Forum Rocket Spanish Spanish - Culture and Travel Speaking Spanish "on the road"....

Speaking Spanish "on the road"....

tocayo

tocayo

Just got back from a trip to Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama. I had a great time and I used my Spanish as much as possible. I would say that I had varying degrees of success communicating with the locals in Spanish. There were times when I never needed to resort to English at all (hotels, taxis, eating and shopping) but for the most part, it was a struggle. I was always able to communicate at some remedial level to get what I needed but I was not able to just sit down and have a nice easy conversation with someone entirely in Spanish. The locals were very friendly and when they saw this obviously American tourist approach them and trying to speak Spanish they warmed up to me quickly. After a couple of minutes of listening to me struggle, they could tell it was going to be like talking to a child but they still seemed to appreciate my efforts. One time while shopping at a roadside stand, I decided to give my brain a rest and just stick to English. They were a nice older couple and I heard the woman tell her husband (in Spanish thinking I would not understand her) that I would pay $35 for an item that was marked $40. So I played along with them in English for a couple minutes and then switched to Spanish, "pero es muy caro". Her eyes got really big when she heard me. I ended up paying $10 for the item but then went back and gave her an extra $5 for being a good sport about it. I often generated a lot of smiles and laughs by accidentally using incorrect words and phrases. I decided I would just laugh along with them enven when I didn't understand why they found it so funny. For example, one time I was sitting at a palapa on the beach having beers with the locals and I used the word flaco instead of flaca when referring to this thin girl on the beach. The locals all laughed at that. There must have been something more to it than just using the wrong gender but I didn't get it.... (have any of you experienced this?) I had trouble understanding some people more so than others. I expected that because of their differing accents but what surprised me was that some of them could understand my Spanish better than others. I know my accent is not great but I think it is at least consistent and I speak so slowly that I sort of expected them to have no trouble. Most of the time when I repeated what I had just said a second time, they would then understand me and repeat it back to me. I'm sort of wondering if that was because of me or if that is no different then when I ask an English speaking person to repeat themselves? Any thoughts on that?
taalibeen

taalibeen

About the being asked to repeat things, I understand and empathise completely. I hang around with a lot of people, mostly Puerto Ricans, but some Cubans, Colombians, Peruvians, and El Salvadorians - and what really frustrates me is when I say something that I feel is perfectly clear, and am asked to repeat it. Then I start second guessing myself, and before I repeat it I find myself analyzing my sentence and etc. What I've figured out is that it isn't that what I'm saying is wrong or incorrect, but that I have an accent (obviously), and sometimes they're expecting to hear English and are thrown off when I speak Spanish. Don't let it get to you, just repeat yourself the way you said it. If you need to be corrected, it'll happen. I think its much better for the flow of conversation to just say it again as opposed to pausing to try and figure out what you may have said wrong before moving along.
tocayo

tocayo

Thanks very much for sharing your insights !!! I have English speaking friends that say "huh?" or "what?" all the time and not just to me but to everyone. I have a 13 yr old son who does that to me after almost every question. Rather than repeat myself, I say nothing. I just let the silence hang there and "presto" they answer my questions without me having to repeat. Sound familiar??? So, I have been paying attention to my Spanish speaking friends and have found the certain ones do the same thing to each other... "como?" :)
C_Norita

C_Norita

[quo]*Quote from * taalibeen About the being asked to repeat things, I understand and empathise completely. I hang around with a lot of people, mostly Puerto Ricans, but some Cubans, Colombians, Peruvians, and El Salvadorians - and what really frustrates me is when I say something that I feel is perfectly clear, and am asked to repeat it. Then I start second guessing myself, and before I repeat it I find myself analyzing my sentence and etc. What I've figured out is that it isn't that what I'm saying is wrong or incorrect, but that I have an accent (obviously), and sometimes they're expecting to hear English and are thrown off when I speak Spanish. Don't let it get to you, just repeat yourself the way you said it. If you need to be corrected, it'll happen. I think its much better for the flow of conversation to just say it again as opposed to pausing to try and figure out what you may have said wrong before moving along.[/quo] I understand and agree with everything taalibeen expressed. I second-guess myself most of the time when asked to repeat what I said. I, like taalibeen, analyze, too. When I feel completely certain that every word is correct, I begin to think otherwise, because I was asked, ¿Cómo?, ¿Eh?, etc. I'm told I talk low. The other day, I told someone that when they ask me, ¿Cómo?, I become nervous that what I said may not have been worded correctly, therefore, I hesitate to repeat myself. That person told me they only said that because I spoke too low. Other times, I _know_ what I said was not entirely correct, because of worrying too much. I do the "pause and figure out" thing, halfway through a sentence. That's when I make a mistake.
C_Norita

C_Norita

[quo]*Quote from * tocayo Thanks very much for sharing your insights !!! I have English speaking friends that say "huh?" or "what?" all the time and not just to me but to everyone. I have a 13 yr old son who does that to me after almost every question. Rather than repeat myself, I say nothing. I just let the silence hang there and "presto" they answer my questions without me having to repeat. Sound familiar??? So, I have been paying attention to my Spanish speaking friends and have found the certain ones do the same thing to each other... "como?" :)[/quo] Yes, tocayo. :) That sounds familiar. Very familiar. Sometimes, I do the same thing. Instead of repeating myself, I say nothing at all. Then, about a second or two later, I receive a response. What you expressed, could be the same circumstance when it comes to, ¿Cómo?, too. I never thought about that. I'm glad you mentioned that! :D
Phillip-Carracher

Phillip-Carracher

What I find most frustrating is when I'm speaking Spanish around my Cuban friends, I always get a response of, "HUH". They know exactly what I'm saying, they just don't speak Spanish with me. I still don't get it and they won't tell me why. I used to second quess myself. Now I know it's them and not me. Friends from other countries are more than happy to speak Spanish and understand everything I'm saying. Curious.
Dave-Taylor

Dave-Taylor

[quo]*Quote from * tocayo I often generated a lot of smiles and laughs by accidentally using incorrect words and phrases. [/quo] I go to Guatemala every year to do construction missions. I often catch snickers from the locals when several of our male team members would mention that they have an 'espouso' instead of 'espousa'. This year, we had a rookie named Bob, who had never been before, and he was trying to impress one of the men from the Church who was bi-lingual, but Bob's Spanish was pretty limited. Someone asked Bob in Spanish "¿Cuanto tiempo tu estudiado Español?" ("How long he had studied Spanish"), and after I told Bob what they asked him, Bob tried to answer in Spanish...at this point a fairly good size crowd of locals had gathered to see what we had been doing there. Bob said, "tengo dos anos" instead of "tengo dos años". (notice the 'n' pronunciation difference) The crowd of locals erupted in laughter, especially the kids. Bob said to me, "Why was it so funny for me to say I studied Spanish "two years"...was my Spanish that bad?" I told Bob that wasn't what he said, that when he wanted to say "years" he forgot to twist the 'n' in anos, and instead just pronounced it 'straight'. I told him they laughed because he just told them that he had not one anus, but two! We called him "double-butt Bob' for the rest of the trip.
Emli

Emli

[quo]*Quote from * tocayo Thanks very much for sharing your insights !!! I have English speaking friends that say "huh?" or "what?" all the time and not just to me but to everyone. I have a 13 yr old son who does that to me after almost every question. Rather than repeat myself, I say nothing. I just let the silence hang there and "presto" they answer my questions without me having to repeat. Sound familiar??? So, I have been paying attention to my Spanish speaking friends and have found the certain ones do the same thing to each other... "como?" :)[/quo] Yeah, sounds very familiar. I'm a teenager and all my siblings and I do that to my Mom all the time. What's funny is that she'll start to repeat herself and we'll answer in the middle of her sentence. :)

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