Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Greg Speaks Spanish

Posted by Neal on March 21, 2008

Here’s a funny story about my friend Greg making good use of the Spanish he remembered from high school.

9 Responses to “Greg Speaks Spanish”

  1. Viola said

    Hee Hee. Okay, in a strange sort of way, this inspired me to put on some kid’s introduction to Spanish DVDs this weekend. Seems to me that we’re all connected in all sorts of ways, even if it appears a little rummy. (laughing stupidly)

    Glad your friend got through that barrier. Now I know how my husband feels when he can’t get through to those he works with unless he uses expletives….repeatedly….until the communication barrier is dissolved. As vulgar as it may appear, it works, because for some it is the only language that is understood.

  2. The Ridger said

    Funny. Reminded me of trying to use French in Berlin (in the army). Amazing how few words will surface from a language one doesn’t really use.

  3. Viola said

    Years ago a Columbian friend of mine asked me to take his friend who was visiting from his country under my wing a little because I knew “un poquito Espanol.” (Don’t know my macros yet, so please insert any Spanish punctuation if needed!)
    Anyway, I introduced her to my brother, who happens to be very handsome, “Es mi hermoso (beautiful-male)” by accident, instead of “Es mi hermano (brother.)” She giggled and giggled until I asked her what the name for brother was, knowing I messed up somewhere with translation. She said, “Hermano, pero es verdad, es verdad. Muy hermoso (Brother, but it’s true, it’s true. Very handsome.) I was pretty much off the hook with that one and was extra careful to carry my Spanish/English dictionary when I was with her from then on…..just in case.

  4. Neal said

    If you’re thinking there’s a good story behind The Ridger’s comment, there is. Read it here.

  5. The Ridger said

    Thanks, Neal. I was coming over here link to it.

  6. Viola said

    Neal & Ridger:
    Thanks so much for the stories. I find it refreshing to know that more people feel it cuts both ways when it comes to language barriers. I recently “got away” by myself for dinner at a local Chinese place. I ordered a zinfandel blush with my dinner. The waitress had broken English, but she was determined to pronounce zinfandel properly. I explained the emphasis and barely emphasized vowels, consonants, and syllables (like I’m the expert, ha!) She went to another table and apparently they ordered a zinfandel as well, because she continued to repeat it properly. I was tickled because she had it down by the time it was delivered to my table. I asked her how long she had been in the states. It was only 1 1/2 years. I gave her a compliment about how great she was doing and how much I appreciated her persistency. She also received a generous tip. Many people do not have the patience to deal with different accents and language difficulties. If I were in her shoes and was treated poorly, what would I think about the land of the free, home of the brave, and pursuit of happiness? BTW Ridger, thanks for your service. And Neal, thanks for your support.

  7. Ingeborg S. Nordén said

    Another “foreign language ends up useful in an odd situation” experience: Several years ago, I was cruising around downtown Madison and noticed two women sitting on a ledge outside a local restaurant window–despite the manager’s displaying a prominent sign “DO NOT SIT ON LEDGE.” I wheeled over to explain that they were breaking the rules, but they apologized for not understanding English very well. Since I couldn’t quite place their accent, I asked the women where they were from. They claimed to come from Denmark, so I immediately pointed to the sign and explained: Der står, at man ikke skal sidde her. (“It says you’re not supposed to sit here”.) The women jumped up as if someone had put tacks on the ledge–partly, I suspect, because they never expected to hear fluent Danish from an American!

  8. Viola said

    Good for you, Ingeborg! Gotta love the shock effect.🙂

  9. Ingeborg’s story reminds me of a fellow gamer who always had a good tale to spin. He “looked American,” (large blond guy) but grew up most of his childhood in Korea because his dad was stationed there. So when he came to the states as a teen, he was fluent in both English and Korean, but it rarely came in handy because he didn’t meet many Koreans in Kentucky.

    But in college, he was in the cafeteria line, when two “attractive Korean girls” (as he tells it) were at the salad bar, so he saddled on up and said, “Hello.” One girl turned to the other and said something like, “Ugh. I hate college guys. They are so immature,” in Korean. “Check out this fat guy, hah.”

    “I am sorry you consider this to be ‘fat,'” he said in nearly flawless Korean back to them. “But I consider you to be rather stuck up and petty. How about that?”

    Both girls froze.

    “You deaf, too? How sad… ” he said, and left.

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