Todo Bien – Language Lessons

There had to be a mention of this, si? Well, if I am butchering the language, I hope I am doing so in a way that is as perfect as they butcher their steaks, although I wouldn’t know. I have not caused any hysterics of laughter or looks of horror as I stumble through my attempts at Spanish…not that I know of anyway. Whereas some people speak louder and more slowly when they are trying to be understood in another language, I tend to mumble my way through hoping the odd letter I’m getting wrong isn’t that big of a deal. I believe this has instead resulted in people thinking my slurring is a result of the discovery that wine is the only cheap thing here (side note: I’ve discovered the wine is the only cheap thing here!). 

I have befriended some locals (my waiter, a friend at a hostel) who have graciously spent hours with me trying to communicate. One of them asked me if I was going to terminate my coffee and told me he wants to present me to his cousin. He also mentioned he would spend me at the bus station. (I was relieved when he just met me there, I have not been sold.) I can only imagine what I am saying along those lines though! I do know that I tried to describe ‘gluten free’ using the word ‘libre’, which would translate more as “Free the gluten! Let it be a slave no more!”

Unfortunately for me, I have mistaken immersion for infusion…kinda like believing you can put a book under your pillow and somehow it will transfer to your brain overnight. That works, right?! Instead I have found that a marathon would feel easy in comparison to the exhaustion that is learning a new language…focusing on every word, searching and grasping for words that I think I know to try to say the simplest of things…it is tiring even writing about it.

One issue I do have is with the letter P. Past tense, pronouns, and prepositions. Past tense seems to be the biggest problem. I am constantly saying things in the present and then pointing to my left, which anyone who has ever read a timeline knows that the left is earlier in time to the right. I thought this would be very logical, universal sign language. This is not the case. The looks I get are pure confusion. The other thing I try is pointing behind me, again trying to indicate that since it’s behind me now, it’s obviously in the past. Instead, I think people assume I have an imaginary friend and probably just feel sorry for me! It will have to do until I learn, and people will have to just believe me when I say, “I live in Argentina for 3 weeks and I live in Argentina without end. I live in Chicago. I live in Denver. I sell my house. I do not work. I am a writer. I travel to South Africa for the World Cup.”  Well they’ll have to believe me or think that I am capable of time travel or cloning to live so productively all at once. I suppose I should at least learn how to say, “I do not know how to speak in past tense.” en español.

7 thoughts on “Todo Bien – Language Lessons

  1. Che! Loved reading your blog so far, E-MAC. Sounds like you aren’t having any fun at all, you poor woeful soul, you. Que lo pases la “raja” (dicho chileno)…!

  2. Erin I absolutely LOVE your blog…everything about it….how honest you are about your feelings and how descriptive about Argentina….I love how you “talk” in your blog…strange how that sounds but I feel like you are sitting here with me telling me stories….love that! We are SOOO overdue for a night like that!!! miss you and love you hun!

  3. So funny!! Pointing to the left – shyeah, everybody knows what that means!

    Terminate the coffee! Free the gluten!

    Keep up the blog, we love it!

  4. so fun to live vicariously through your Argentine adventures! it sounds strange and exciting and amazing and delicious. Keep posting!!!

  5. I love it! Forget about past tense- that will come. But I think you should learn to say in Spanish “I’m the boss!” and any time you are saying something confusing, just interrupt yourself and claim loudly “I’m the boss!” and then see what looks you get and if they look confused just pat them on the back and smile. Then no one will ever forget you, and you will become notorious in Argentia as “The Boss” 🙂

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