Gut Rumbles

November 17, 2004

speaking spanish

I took two years of high school Spanish, where I learned very little, then 20 hours of Spanish in college, where I learned a lot. But I let every bit of that knowledge rot on the vine until my first trip to Costa Rica. I was surprised at how fast some of my old lessons came back to me.

Vocabulary in a foreign language goes to shit in a hurry if you don't use it. Mine ossified. But I still remembered the basics, and once I started hanging around people who spoke nothing but Spanish, I got better fast. Gerio, my driver, was VERY impressed by the great strides I made from the time he dropped me off in San Jose and the time he picked me up to return to the airport two weeks later, since I spoke nothing but Spanish with him that time. When he first met me, I remembered about five words in Spanish. The second time, I was putting together sentences.

"Roberto! Es muy impresiontante. Hablas espanol ahora! Bueno!"

I'm not fluent in the language, because I still have to think in English and translate what I want to say, and if somebody gets too rapid-fire in Spanish with me, I can't understand a word they're saying, but I am one hell of a lot better than I once was. I would like to go spend about six months there, take a couple of Spanish courses (They teach conversational Spanish EVERYWHERE down there) and immerse myself in the language.

I believe that I could become fluent. Spanish is a very melodic language and I enjoy trying to speak it. Right now, I speak it like a retard, in the present tense all the time and with a limited vocabulary, but I get better every time I go to Costa Rica. Practice makes perfect.

I would like to speak a second language. Just because.


I myself, spent two vacations in Costa Rica. Once for surfing (great waves by the way), and second time for the view. Coming from Colombia I cannot exactly wonder far from the city due to being kidnapped. But a country like Costa Rica where they cater to the tourist is fantastic. The people are great and the women are hot. A few exceptions of course is the warm beer! Have a great time wish it was me going.

Posted by: Halo 2 on November 17, 2004 03:27 PM

Spanish is cool. Back in the mid 80's, I worked for a while in Dallas. We had about 150 workers of whom maybe 5 spoke english. Talk about a crash course!

They had a derogatory term for white men - bolio (Bow lee oh) that was their equivilent of calling a black man a...well you know...

When they would get to talking too fast for me to keep up, I would say, "Lo siento. Yo soy uno bolio y no intiendo espanol."

They'd say, "where did you hear that word, bolio?" And I'd answer, "in the break room when you thought my back was turned."

They always thought that was funny...

Posted by: circa bellum on November 17, 2004 03:40 PM

I love to eavesdrop on conversations in Spanish. It's amazing what people will say about you when they think you don't understand them. If it's obviously about me, I will say something appropriate and make my exit so they feel like shit.

Funny how people assume no one else understands their private code.

I envy you Rob, I could use some Costa Rica myself.

Posted by: caltechgirl on November 17, 2004 05:14 PM

Everyone who fancies himself educated should know a second language. You'd be amazed how many of the oh so smart intelligentsia have no clue about this. So much for diversity....

Mine is Russian, btw.

Posted by: Brett on November 17, 2004 05:43 PM

I'll disagree with Brett about the second language. I think that it's neat to have if you want to know more about your native language, but there're plenty of morons in the world who are bilingual, e.g. Belgians.

Posted by: Rube on November 17, 2004 08:48 PM


From my sister and her husband who are both certified Spanish/English translators:

Learn the vocab. first. The conjugation and tenses will come after time.

Kinda the opposite of what they taught us in school. But then again, a lot of what we done learnt in screwl was BS.

Posted by: rightisright on November 17, 2004 09:10 PM

Mi tio es enfermo, pero la carretera es verde.

Posted by: Steve on November 17, 2004 11:18 PM

Steve--- your uncle is sick, but your wagon is green?

That's sound like a really lame pickup line.

Posted by: Acidman on November 17, 2004 11:44 PM

Immersion class is the way to go with languages. A couple of years ago, i was taking a Spanish conversation class with a lady friend in Anchorage. I had studied Spanish off and on, and I was way ahead of her [I think we had 2-hr classes, 2 nights a week]. She went to Oaxaca for 4 weeks, taking 4 hours of small group classes per day, living with local family, etc. When she got back, she was WAY ahead of me, really darn near fluent.

Posted by: John Cunningham on November 18, 2004 12:23 AM

When I was in Europe one time, some pompous Italian dude thought he was complimenting me by telling me I was not a loser like most Americans because I could speak three languages fluently, one of them difficult (Slavic). I told him if we had a small country like the Euros and if we couldn't get everyone to learn our language then more of us would speak other languages. It IS good to speak other languages, but monolingualism is no disgrace for an American (as long as the one is English).

Posted by: Vitriolics on November 18, 2004 02:53 AM

my Spanish has gone completely to the shitter as well. I use it once in awhile with Mexican customers at work, but not as much as I'd like. I need to buy myself a computer program to brush up again. I'd like to be fluent b/c it's much easier to get a job in Houston when you're bilingual in English and Spanish.

Posted by: girl on November 18, 2004 09:20 AM

I guess redneck doesn't count as a second language.

Posted by: James Old Guy on November 18, 2004 12:22 PM

Hmmm, learned German in HS, pounded Arabic in my last coupla years in the service and now I'm thinking about spanish...and I tain't hardly never larnt me no english, go figger...

Posted by: JSAllison on November 18, 2004 02:33 PM

Move to California.
You will hear enough Spanish to get sick of it.
I laugh when I hear people talk about how 'neat' Spanish is. They don't live with 24/7 like I do here in B-town. The employment ads in the newspaper are even being printed in Spanish Only. I'd like Spanish a whole lot more if I had a cjoice about hearing it everyday and everywhere.

Posted by: Alan Alexis on November 19, 2004 06:48 AM
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