martes, 6 de octubre de 2009

So Misunderstood.

It is possible to come to Peru without knowing Spanish and learn the language. That just means that your mistakes are going to be that much worse. Saying the wrong word in a classroom typically goes by unnoticed because you are surrounded by people who, like you, don’t know any words outside their textbooks. Making a mistake around the table with native speakers nothing goes unnoticed. The results can be tragically embarrassing.

I have been officially speaking Spanish for one month now and it seems to me that I have made more tragically embarrassing mistakes than your average gringa. The worst part is that you think you successfully communicated what you meant to say. But then you start to get strange looks or laughs and then you look around until you are the last to know what terribly inappropriate phrase you have just mumbled out. Thus here is my top 4 countdown of the worst misunderstandings…

4. Sitting around the lunch table one afternoon I begin to gloat about my Wisconsin pride once again. This time I tried to prove to everyone at the table that Wisconsin is far superior to Illinois… in Spanish. I am not even sure what exactly I said but everyone started to laugh, I unsure if this was good or bad. It was bad. It translates to “my love is very juicy”.

3. There was a very important nurse over for a visit to discuss how we could start to partner with her clinic. I sat down and she asked me how my Spanish was coming along. I tried to explain that I try not to think in English phrases but it didn’t exactly come out that way. I said to her “I don’t believe in English.” Might I note, we are an organization that teaches English. Lara and her both look at me like I was crazy in the head. Lara says, “Did you mean to just tell her that you don’t believe in English?” Oh my. Lara smoothed that one over for me but I have since been hesitant to sit down with other guests. Maybe I’ll try it again in a few weeks.

2. Yrma is our “Peruvian Mom” of sorts. She is Luz’s mom and is around all the time. She was getting ready to go on a week long trip and was sitting in our living room getting her hair done. There were at least eight people sitting in the room. I was reading a book and the Spanish phrase for have a nice trip was in there. I say to Yrma, “bien vieja” she started to laugh and so I said it again and again. Everyone was laughing at this point. I look around and knew I had done it again. Translated I said, “You are very old.” Watch out for that one kids… it’s just a close call. Good trip, buen viaje.

Drum roll please….

1. Setting… lots of new people I have not met in the house for a party. They ask me to take a picture. That day I had learned two new words, chócala (high five) and chompa (sweater). I thought it would be a huge success if I would say “uno, dos, tres… Chócala!” when I take the picture. This is more how it went, “Uno, dos, tres… CHUPALA!!” Lots of laughs immediately indicated to me that it was far more successful that I thought it would be, I mean really successful. I was the last to know that I had actually said, “One, two, three… SUCK IT!”

Kristin Bolan, Misunderstood Light and Leadership Initiative Volunteer

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