Friday, November 19, 2010

The One Where I Try To Learn Spanish

I know it's Friday, and I know I'm missing (again!) my FFwD, but my excuse this week is that I'm actually making this dish on Sunday (or, tomorrow FOR Sunday) because my mother's side of the family does Thanksgiving the Sunday before actual Thanksgiving, so I'm going to make it and bring it for lunch Sunday.

Also, I just discovered that this blog passed its year-old mark without any kind of anything. So here's a mini party to celebrate keeping this thing going for a year and 10 days with some kind of regularity:

As some of you may or may not know, I've got a background in taking French classes. That's not to say I speak French, but I have a background in taking classes. I took 3 years in high school, and then a total of 4 semesters in college. (Actually, I was signed up for classes 6 semesters in college, but I dropped it twice.)

As much as I love the language, I'm not good at LEARNING languages, as it turns out.

Despite this, when I was at the library the other day, I picked up a CD set, promising to teach me beginning Spanish quickly.

Yes, Spanish. French is awesome, but Spanish is the language that's taking over the country, so Spanish it was.

I popped the first CD into my car player, and listened to a pleasant-sounding man tell me to listen to a conversation between a (North) American man and a Hispanic woman.

So far, so good.

I caught a few of the words, and thus felt pretty proud of myself. Then, the guy started explaining what they were saying, and asking me to repeat things.

The first thing that threw me off was the use of (and if I butcher spellings, please forgive me) Castilano for "Spanish" instead of "Espanol," which everyone knows. I've been getting that confused with "entiende" which is the word for "understand."

So when the guy tells me to say "I do not understand Spanish" (a true statement, by the by), about half the time, I'll say, "No castilende Espanol." I don't even know if "castilende" is a real word, but I keep using it.

The man continues.

"Say, 'Hello, sir. Do you understand English?'"

I respond.

"Bonjour, monsieur. . .crap, no. That's French. Hola. . .Hola, Senor, entien--"

And then about halfway through the fixed sentence, he interrupts me to tell me how I SHOULD have said it. Gracias, Senor.

Then I realize that there seems to be some sexual tension between the Norde Americano man and the Hispanic woman.

"Hola, Senorita," he says. "Como estas usted?"

The narrator explained that this means, "How are you doing?" (Muy bien.) But thanks to the sexual tension I feel between these two people (who don't have names, by the way, so I've taken to calling them Gregor and Maria), I take it more as a Joey Tribbiani, "How YOU doin'?"

Since I'm by myself in the car, taking these lessons, I'm talking out loud. To myself. I always am afraid that people driving by are going to think I'm either A) Crazy or B) Saying nasty things to them. I haven't gotten run off the road yet, so I'm good to go. Conversations usually go something like this:

Narrator: Say "How are you doing, ma'am?"
Me: "Como estas usted, madam? Crap, no. Como estas usted, senora. How YOU doin'?"
Narrator: Tell the young woman good morning, and that you do not understand Spanish.
Me: "Buenas noches. . .no. Diaz. Buenos dias, mademoiselle. Crap. Senorita. No casilende Espanol."
Narrator: "Buenos diaz, senorita. No entiendo Castillano."
Narrator: Tell the young woman you are North American, and that you only speak a little Spanish.
Me: Why don't YOU tell ME why the word for the Queen's Spanish and the word for "understand" are SO DAMN SIMILAR and you taught them in the SAME LESSON?
Narrator: "Soy Norde Americano/Americana. Hablo Castillano un poco."
Me: "Soy Norde Americana. Hablo Espanol un poco."

At this point, I'm not certain why I'm arguing with a recorded narrator. So when he tells me to ask the woman how she is and if she speaks English again, I end it with a. . .

"How YOU doin'?"

Then I turned on the radio.

That's about where my lesson ended last night.

Buenos tardes.


  1. That was hilarious. I took three years of Spanish and I don't recall using the word Castilano either.

  2. Seriously! The narrator indicated that that word means it's the highest form of Spanish, and D confirmed that, but. . .it's ESPANOL!

  3. Happy blog-iversary!

    As for the Espanol (it's totally Espanol; I don't care what the native speakers say), I'll wish you "buena suerte."

  4. LMFAO! That was hilarious! Hahahahahahaha!

  5. I totally object to the way they're teaching! It's THEIR fault, not yours!