October 17, 2006 at 7:40 am #52361
I have lived in Spain for more than 16 years and my Spanish is fairly good.
Normally, I am delighted to help struggling Brits overcome language problems. However, two incidents yesterday made me stop and think.
Firstly, I was in a small supermarket in the village of Casinos near Valencia. Ahead of me in the queue were three English women. When the cashier had totalled their shopping, he bravely gave them the total in faltering English. The girls congratulated him on his English and remarked to each other that he is getting better everyday. Surely, it should have been the cashier congratulating the girls on their improving Spanish?
Later, I was queuing for lunch at a large salad bar in a commercial centre near Valencia airport. The man behind me in the queue suddenly stuck out his finger, pointed at one of the food trays, and said in a loud voice ‘Ere luv wot’s that called in English?
The girl behind the counter looked confused and shrugged.
My normal instinct to help was stifled by the man’s arrogance and rudeness. I turned my back and let him get on with it – and I suspect many English-speaking Spaniards would have done the same. 😕
October 17, 2006 at 12:40 pm #66814
I do not always let people know I speak spanish as you will quickly be asked to undertake all kinds of things. I often have people on the phone saying “can you speak to this person for me” or asked to call for them including, ordering logs for the fire, dealing with Telefonica. It can turn into a nightmare. Once had someone call me and ask to speak to a Policeman who had arrived with a denuncia. Another time I was asked to translate in a dispute between neighbours, result was that they both took my words personally and neither of them was speaking to me.
I wouldn’t care to live in a country if I didn’t at least speak some of the language. I also find it strange that here on the CDS many Spanish people cannot speak English as most of the economy is based around Brit tourism.
October 17, 2006 at 3:02 pm #66824
Perhaps I am excessively nosey but I usually quite enjoy getting involved in other people’s problems. The one thing I really don’t enjoy is being asked to translate at the doctor’s surgury. You always learn things you really would have preferred not to have known.
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