Accidentally telling my taxi driver I was horny, languages are hard.

I love living abroad, I love embracing a new culture, meeting new people and just getting to experience a new perspective. The problem with living abroad though is that there will always be a language barrier. Especially because I don’t seem able to commit myself to just one country or even just one language.

From failing to successfully describe the contents of my pencil case in secondary school French, to getting served pigs insides in China because I bluffed out my lack of understanding, my language skills have always been pretty poor. I make a million excuses, I’m too busy with work, it’s too hard, I don’t get to practise enough but it does all pretty much boil down to laziness. I work a lot when I am abroad and with lesson planning, teaching as well as keeping up some semblance of a social life as well as an on-going committed relationship to my Netflix account I never seem to have the time or motivation. When I am in the middle of some big new adventure with uncountable new experiences to explore all around me, sitting at my desk practising how to say that my horse doesn’t eat rice is less than tempting.

Languages are hard

Languages are hard

So, my Spanish is pretty shocking, therefore it became necessary for me to sort of bluff my way into seeming like a Spanish speaker. Lets be honest, it fails fairly frequently but if like me, time, laziness and motivation are lacking in your life here are my 3 ingenious tips on how to make people believe you speak Spanish.

Si & tambien are your new best friends.

Si

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Less is more. It means that you’re agreeing with pretty much anything that’s being suggested, you may be saying that yes you love the Spanish language, yes you do like fried pig skin or yes you would love to come to the strangers house and meet their grandson who is looking for a new wife who is good at carrying things. You could be agreeing to all manner of bullshit- but at least you sort of look like you know what you’re doing, deal with the rest tomorrow.

Exceptions to the rule If your hear muerte, feo or gordo then ignore the rule, do not agree emphatically. Dead, ugly and fat are statements meant to be agreed with in no language.

Tambien

Me too. Me too. Me too!!

Hmm, what do I want to eat? Probably what my Spanish speaking friend just said before me, yeah tambien.

Where am I wanting to go on the the train? Hells, I think I’ll get a ticket to the exact same place the travelling dreadlocked dude in front of me just got. . .  tambien.

Where am I from? Well I’m pretty sure that guy just said Liverpool but I’m pretty sure I heard Inglaterra in there so why not? Close enough! Bloody tambien!!

If in doubt throw an O or IA on the end.

60% of the time, it works all the time.

delicious delicioso

correct correcto

alcoholic alcoholico

ambulance ambulancia

Exceptions to the rule

Excited & embarrassed. Unless you want to announce to a party that you are pregnant (sadly learnt through experience) or tell your taxi driver that you are horny to be in Colombia (yep, I did that one too)

Smile darling

This tactic can also be used for a range of impossible to understand subjects. I tend to crack it out with my significantly more intelligent science & engineering friends. Smile, nod, laugh a little if everyone else is and sing along to the last song you heard on the radio in your head.

(Only advisable in large groups, honestly if you try this one on one you are just going to come out of it looking like a mad person)

So that’s my terrible advice for trying to fake an understanding of Spanish. Honestly if you have the time, motivation and drive sadly lacking in myself, take a class, pick up Rosetta Stone or watch some Spanish soap operas.

You’re much less likely to make a tit out of yourself that way.

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