Posted by: Lydia | March 23, 2010

wtf español

22 March 2010

Today was one of those days… no, let’s make it this entire weekend… where I sucked so badly at Spanish I wondered if I had gotten worse at the language since moving to the DR. From struggling with the Cibao accent to totally crashing and burning when attempting to inquire about renting an apartment on the phone (with an actual Dominican realtor… I am so sorry for wasting your time dude), this has truly been a linguistically inglorious few days. As anyone who has aced language classes in high school and college and then tried traveling to a country where the people actually speak said language can attest, things are much more difficult in the real world where people don’t talk like a textbook…. especially over the phone. Also: why do I have the hardest time with Romance languages even though they are allegedly the easiest to learn coming from English?!?? I was terrible at French yet took very well to ridiculous tongues like German and Chinese. Sigh.

To add insult to injury, while trying to squeeze into a carro publico this afternoon (this particular carro was already occupied by two rather hefty Dominicans, and Matt and I were supposed to share the seat with them), the driver kept yelling “¡ADELANTE! ¡ADELANTE MI HIJA!” at me, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember what adelante meant. It means forward. They just wanted me to move my large American self further forward in the seat so my even larger American husband could fit in the car with the door closed. Eventually by some miracle of physics we did all fit in the car, but it worries me that in my quest to master colloquial Dominican Spanish (and oh, is it ever colloquial) I am forgetting basics like simple directionals.

I know I am the worst (or at least near the bottom) in my particular class (of 5), however I think the frustration I feel on a daily basis has more to do with me being totally unaccustomed to being the suckiest most grammatically disabled person in the room than with any inherent inability to learn Spanish. It’s easy to feel confident in the safety of a University Spanish 101 class taught by an English-speaking TA, and something else yet again to try and carry on a decently intelligent, idiomatically correct conversation in your target language.

Certainly, yo puedo sobrevivir, but I’d really like to be able to do it while not making a complete ass of myself.

Anyways, our community based training (CBT) begins this week, during which I will learn to do all of the awesome technical stuff that really excites me in addition to more intensive Spanish work. Hopefully being out in the field and away from the monstrosity that is Santo Domingo will help clear more space in my mind for más español.

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Responses

  1. Wow what a time. Hang in there Honey!

  2. Your Spanish will come along but it sounds frustrating right now. Keep your chin up and keep fighting. 🙂

  3. ….LOL, and while you’re at it, remember that in English, you need a possessive in front of the gerund, as in,
    “has more to do with MY being an insufferable language snob etc.”

  4. Leave it to your mom to correct your English grammar! She always corrected your cousins grammar when she saw the need. Just ask them.

    Accents and speed make Spanish hard –I am sure your reading of signs is better than your speaking — but eventually it will get easier. It just has to. Buena Suerte chiquita mia


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