I am a strong believer in the notion that if you emigrate to another country you should learn the native tongue.
Living in south Florida it was not uncommon to be approached by someone who would say, “¿Habla usted español? This is what I would tell them:
“Si, pero no aqui. Es los estados unidos.. Hablamos ingles aqui.” (Yes, but not here. It’s the United States. We speak English here.)
The looks on their faces always made me regret not constantly carrying a camera everywhere I go,
I would sometimes continue with, “Cuando estoy en España, Mexico, Guatemala, yo hablo español, pero nunca aqui en mi país.” (When I’m in Spain, Mexico, Guatemala I speak Spanish, but never here in my country.)
Now, if you think that’s rude, you’re right, it is, but screw you. If those people can’t at LEAST learn the phrase, “Excuse me, do you speak Spanish?” in English they get what they deserve. That’s how I feel about it. And when I go to an ATM machine and it asks if I want to conduct my business in English or Spanish I want to put a brick through that little screen. I was never asked that question in France, Spain or any other country where the language isn’t English and it infuriates me that the U.S. bends over backwards to accommodate people who don’t learn English. As a country of immigrants the one cohesive bond of the polyglot is the English language.
When reading the Yahoo Groups about Panama, and I’m sure it’s the same for other countries as well, someone will, from time to time, post something like: “Is there a bar, etc. in (fill in the country) where I can meet other people who speak English?” My response, for which I take a lot of flack, is “if you want to sit around drinking beer with a bunch of people who speak English stay in the States.
WARNING: If four letter words offend you PLEASE don’t play this video.
My Spanish is FAR from being fluent. It’s beginning to approach being proficient, though and it will get better as the days and weeks go by.
One response to “Spanish For Your Nanny”
You’re absolutely right about several things here, including the fact that if we want to spend all our time with folks who speak English, we should stay home.
Now granted – when I was in Liberia the language was Kpelle, and it had only been written down since around 1935. Nevertheless, it wasn’t long before I could at least greet people in their own language, and it made a huge difference.
That “kp” sound in the word Kpelle is pretty common in the language, by the way. You haven’t lived until you’ve spent some time trying to isolate that sound by saying “pin kp ig” repeatedly!
Scientists say that keeping the mind active does a great deal to battle Alzheimer’s and learning a new language is certainly a mental challenge.