Saturday, May 08, 2010

Viene Aquí Usted Muchas Veces?

(Do you come here often?)

I think I’ve mentioned that my parents have been engaged in learning Spanish for some time. My father started long ago and has pretty much mastered it—he can watch TV in Spanish with near-total comprehension.

To be precise, he says sometimes he understands everything so completely, he forgets it’s in Spanish, while other times he has no idea what they’re talking about. He says humor is particularly tricky, with its idiomatic expressions and wordplay—sometimes he understands all of a joke but the punch line, or he doesn’t understand anything BUT the punch line.

My mother (if she’ll forgive my saying so) isn’t as far along in her studies, but she enjoys conversing in Spanish, anyway. I took Spanish for several years in junior high and high school, and lately have armed myself with a massive Spanish-English dictionary, the same one my my mother has; well, one of the same ones she has. I think that she and my father, between them, probably have several such reference works. We are thorough in my family.

As it happens, my halting, laborious production of spoken Spanish perfectly matches her halting, laborious comprehension of same, and vice versa, so it is quite satisfactory to both of us. My mother lately said approvingly that my Spanish is “muy lento,” ergo “yo entiendo!”

She recently said this: “Me gusta el baño de pájaros con agua profunda.” She likes the bird bath with deep water! Which I understood as soon as she reminded me that “pájaro” is “bird.” It’s possible there’s some other expression for “bird bath,” or maybe not, but I understood perfectly what she was saying. Thrilling! We did not plumb, on this occasion, her feelings about their other bird bath.

I get to practice now and then in my own neighborhood, most often in the laundromatpeople probably think I'm desperate for romance, since my Spanish at this moment is along the lines of "What’s your name? Where do you live? Are you married? Do you have children?"

One of my potential boyfriends explained to me last night how religious practices differ from country to country (I think).

NOTE: This post has been edited per two emails I got from my father after he read it. Let the record reflect that I'm not that far along in my Spanish studies, either. Among other things, he notes that "a menudo" more nearly means "often" than does "muchas veces," but that a gringa like myself can probably get away with "muchas veces."
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