A series of anecdotes with or without any connection to the running of a restaurant.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Open sesame...

Language, Timothy!

Yesterday I met David from Barcelona, my Spanish "tutor"...
That was the fourth time we met. Both his English and my Spanish are definitely improving.
We have a good laugh trying to think of the right words.

Last week, as I entered Casa, Adam pointed to an elderly foreign couple having a drink after their meal.
I said: "Hello."
The gentleman answered: "Xhello"
I asked if he was Greek and he was quite pleased that I recognised his accent.
I fired a Greek salvo...
"I can't remember much...I worked on a Greek ship during my student days..."
I got stuck quite often but he answered in a mix of Greek, English and Spanish...
He was a retired sea-captain who had spent a part of his life trawling South America and that is where he learnt his Spanish...
His wife spoke only Greek but she enjoyed our exchange.
They left Athens two months ago and have travelled through Europe on their way to Scotland then Ireland and Spain...
I really enjoyed meeting them briefly and they were pleased to hear a few Greek words in this part of the world.

I have always been fortunate to be able to pick up languages very easily and I feel that they do open doors to a world that would otherwise remain undiscovered.

My meeting with David was fun. We had a pizza for lunch, chatted with the Italian waiter in a mix of Italian, Catalan and English. All the while we were both learning new words, verbs and phrases.

When I said: "El camarero esta buen!" (The waiter is good) David warned me that, in colloquial Spanish that meant that I fancied him!!

Argh... I must watch my p's and q's...

Have you ever had funny experiences with a foreign language???



Blogger Viking054 said...

I wish I picked up other languages that easily. Everything I try to say is a funny experience!

Now I'm off to practice my Portuguese :)

6/7/06 1:18 AM  
Blogger Geena said...

Funny experiences? Always, every day. My French is a laugh a minute.

6/7/06 6:30 AM  
Blogger Shyha said...

Embarassing is ok? ;)
My first and only (I hope it'll change soon) visit to UK had a bit embarassing start for me. I was staying at one of hostels in London (close to Earl's Court). There was a TV room. I get there first evening and there was a bunch of people, mostly Aussies and New Zealanders, some Europeans and those two Americans. You know - they were like 'hosts' asking everyone about everything, talking about Europe etc etc. Cool thing. I'm rather shy and I was rather unsure with my english (it was very bad), left alone in the crowd of almost all native speakers. I haven't said a word before (except tickets thing) and there was my turn.
[Americans] - where you from
[Me] - Poland
[A] - Holland?
[M] - Poland
[A] - Holland?
[A] - Ahhh, Poland
and that's it. I was blocked, I didn't said anything else. I don't remember much more than I was sitting there as long as I could but I felt very embarassed... I have unblocked soon later and I had a great time. Now, I ain't scared anymore speaking English, even though I'm still not good at it :)

6/7/06 9:36 AM  
Blogger Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Przeciwnie, mowisz bardzo dobrze po angielsku, Shyha!

When I first started learning Polish in Warsaw, I picked up the accent very well but had more trouble with vocabulary. People would stop me in the street for directions, and I would reply (in perfectly accented Polish): "I'm sorry, I don't speak Polish". Whereupon they would stare for a bit, then repeat the question - LOUDER. The next phrase I learned in Polish was: "I'm not deaf, I'm ENGLISH!"

What is your langue maternelle, Cream - French, Arabic or Tamazight?

6/7/06 10:18 AM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

When I meet a foreigner, even if I say ONE word only in their language, they get sooo excited, happy. Umm, no, I can't think of any embarrassing experiences.

6/7/06 12:15 PM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

Shyha is doing pretty good with English, don't you find?

6/7/06 12:16 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I always say I'm gonna learn this language or that language but I only remember the smallest bit of Espanol. My mother went to college when I was about 14 and to help her learn her Spanish she would listen to a latin radio station. I can remember her scrubbing the floor while listening to them speaking and singing in spanish.

6/7/06 12:36 PM  
Blogger Le Chat said...

Oh I used to make so many mistakes in English but I can’t remember them now. I do remember pronouncing “sheet” rather more like “shit” which used to lead to a few laughs eg “Could I have another shit, please?”

I don’t speak much Spanish at all but like you I am good at picking languages up and ages ago did accompany pupils on a trip to Spain. I remember being very pleased with how fluent I was becoming although I kept apologising for the embarrassing nature of my efforts. People fussed around me and brought me chairs and I was so impressed with how kind everyone was. It was only later that I realised that they all thought I was pregnant. The Spanish word for pregnant being embarazada which I had heard and taken to mean embarrassed. Ooops!

6/7/06 12:44 PM  
Blogger Shyha said...

hehehe ;) Bardzo ladnie mowisz po Polsku! :)

Thanks - I do my best :)

6/7/06 12:59 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Viking, yes you have to start on your Brazilian Portuguese to be nice to the future in-laws! I'm sure they'll find everything you say very very funny!!!

Geena, what kind of accent have you got in French?
I've been told that my Italian is Sardinian! I love sardines!

Shyha, your English is very good!
My Polish is very dull!

Daphnée, ma chère, you are Cosmopolitan indeedy!! What were doing in Varsovie?
Ma langue maternelle, Algerian Arabic and French...Proper Arabic came after the Independence! I only know a couple of words of Tamazight!
Avava Inouva!

Gigi, it's because they don't know that it is your first language! The first time I went to France this shipchandler brought his family to meet me and kept saying:"Doesn't he speak perfect French?" I was a bit puzzled...after all I did all my studies in French from nursery to Uni...?

Mary, your mother had the right idea! Latin music to work to! I understand Spanish news programs quite well cos they speak the King's Spanish??

Kitty, I have made many funny mistakes in English over the years...but Sheet? Never! Good one!
If I tell David "Estoy embarazado" he's gonna have a shock!!!

Shyha, you know you're going to have to translate that, you know!

6/7/06 3:05 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

I can mimic accents really well, particuarly French (since I speak it to a limited extent), but that 'Xh' sound in Greek is a bitch to master! I remember how my colleagues would coach me on it when I was teaching in Greece. It sounded right to me but not to them! Ever! As for language stories, I used to frequent this particular butcher when I was there. I wasn't living in a touristy town, so the only foreigners the locals ever saw were the occasional German passing through town. I look German, so the butcher was convinced that I *was* German and saw it as an opportunity to practice his limited German-speaking skills (and I know none) on me. Every week for a year. We must have been a comical pair: me speaking pidgin Greek, wrestling with the Xh and him speaking bad German. We got some unusual cuts of meat that year as as I recall...

6/7/06 3:35 PM  
Blogger Kingston Girl said...

I'm very jealous of people who can pick up languages - I would love to be able to do it but I just end up smiling lots and trying hard and not getting anywhere!

6/7/06 3:36 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

*And* my mother speaks Spanish but never taught us a word. I think it's so she could have private conversations with my grandmother without us knowing what they were saying. We spent severasl months in Mexico when my brother was a little boy and I was a baby. He refused to speak the Spanish that everyone spoke to him. When we returned to Canada, he only spoke Spanish! It didn't last, though, as my mother never spoke it with him. He knows as much as I do now (Una cerveza por favor).

6/7/06 3:41 PM  
Blogger Dizzy said...

I speak part European. That is a bit of badly spoken French and Spanish with the odd Portuguese word throw in, all in the same sentence. For the life of me I can't get it right. It takes me a week or so to sort my head out and then I am on my way home again. What would you call that then Spanch or Frenish.

You don't know me but I know you and most of your friends. I have been reading most of your blogs for ages now but been too shy to come out. I am a friend of Letty – I feel that gives me some blog cred.

6/7/06 6:17 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Andrea, I am ok with the Xh in Greek because there is the same sound in Arabic and it enables me to say Loch the Scottish way.
Lovely anecdotes! I tried to teach my son French when he was little but he wouldn't have it and now at 25, he blames me for not having persevered!!! Quel dommage!!!

KG, your smile tells a thousand words... I hope you picked up our Geordie accent, though!

Dizzy, thanks for visiting!
Spanch or Frenish, I like either!
But how come you mix the two languages up? Are you English or Spanish or Whatish???
Any friend of Lettie's is a friend of mine, Dizzy, you are welcome!!!

6/7/06 6:38 PM  
Blogger Dizzy said...

English and just useless at both French and Spanish. Thanks for the welcome.

6/7/06 7:52 PM  
Blogger Ale said...

well personally i'm a big mess- i dont think i speak any one language 100% plus all my friends and coworkers speak all kinds of different languages-- lots of stories - i can tell ya-- everyday something goes down--

7/7/06 2:53 AM  
Blogger juliana said...

Oh my gosh...I've gotten "to sleep" and "to have sex" mixed up in French. That was probably the worst mistake I made. I'm currently learning Bambara because I'll be leaving for Mali for the Peace Corps. I wonder what crazy mistakes I'll make with that language...

It's been a while Cream. Sorry I haven't posted in so long :)

7/7/06 4:16 AM  
Blogger cream said...

Dizzy, pleasure! Yes but I am sure you'll speak French and Spanish more than someone who doesn't speak them at all!!

Ale, I am certain you speak Italian and maybe German(Is Nico teaching you some or is it just ice cream non-stop when you meet?)

Juliana, welcome back! I thought you'd already gone to Mali!
A friend of mine went into a takeaway and asked for a "kitchen and chips" instead of chicken!
It will be hot, in Mali!

7/7/06 9:27 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

I know how to say a few curse words but that's about it. I'd like to learn Spanish.

7/7/06 1:49 PM  
Blogger Calamity Tat said...

Like Geena I say the wrong things daily I am sure... I want to hear geenas accent also... Maybe we should do voice monday?

7/7/06 6:22 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Christine, the first words everyone learns in a foreign language are swear words!

It always breaks the ice, really! Especially the mistakes...
Voice? Tat...What's that?

7/7/06 8:18 PM  
Blogger annie said...

Have confused "tengo mucho hambre" with "tengo mucho hombre" before now...

10/7/06 9:06 PM  

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