complication of simple things

Doing small things in a foreign country takes a bit longer than what you’re used to. Even when you can speak the language, there are words that are (1) made up or (2) complicated / scientific. You may laugh at the first one, but it’s true! Made up words are usually derived from their locations. Remember that I’m working in Andalucia and the language here is quite different than the proper Spanish of Madrid.

Examples of colloquial southern Spanish:
At school, my students are 100% Andalucian. The words are cut short, the s’s are th’s and the vowels are curious. If you speak Spanish, you’ll appreciate these examples and if you don’t – hopefully you can understand how much of a difference these sounds make to the ear.
– Why didn’t you do your homework?
– Teacher it’s because …
– Por que no hiciste tus deberes?
a. What it should look like: Maestra es que ..
b. What it actually sounds like: Mae’tra e’que ..
>> Teacher is “Maestra”, but here it goes without the S. “Es que” in Andalucia is “e’que”. Ess Kay vs. EhKay.

– You have three pages of exercises.
– ****, teacher, why so much?
– Tenais tres paginas de ejercicios.
a. What it should look like: Joder maestra, por que demasiado?
b. What it actually sounds like: Joé mae’tra po’que demasiao! – no D’s, no R’s no S’s. The first word sounds like an exhalation (the J is an H), and the last word loses it’s ending (-ado becomes -ow).
* side note. Some major curse words get thrown around here like candy at a parade. This is another point of culture shock, both now and in my 2004 experience. When you discover your senora throws around the C word in the same sentence as bread and milk, it’s surprising. So too is the fact that the students curse frequently in class, about everything. That word mentioned above starts with an “F” in English …

Examples of complicated / scientific words:
When you’re at the grocery store, you actually need to read the descriptions and ingredients. Example – when searching for milk, you need to recall that it is super pasturized here and can actually sit out on the shelves un-refrigerated. Going back to 2004, this was my first major culture shock: my senora making cafe con leche for me with warm milk. It’s hard not to panic when you’ve been drinking cold milk all of your life. In the supermarket you see many different brands and words like “seminatada” or “entero“. I picked up a box of “entero” and Andrea made a face: “whole milk?”. Entero for me looks like entire (wtf? the whole cow?) and I had no idea what seminatada meant. Turns out it’s “skim”, effectively.

So onward we go into a world of fictional palabras and good pastries. (Thanks, Cafe de Indias!)


7 thoughts on “complication of simple things

  1. Kelly! I love reading your articles! I’m going to share them with my students, who have all, by the way, handed in their release forms for the video. Isn’t language fascinating the way it can change so much from place to place? Please keep sharing your experiences; it’s awesome!


  2. Kelly! The milk thing threw me off too!! I refrigerate my milk anyway because room temperature milk just does not seem right hahaha :). Your students seem very funny–and I, too, have noticed the casual use of “joder” more than once by the professors haha.


  3. LOVE reading your posts, Kelly! (Students throwing around the “joder,” huh??? Intersesting!) But you’re right…I remember it being so common to hear those words all over the place as if it’s nothing!


    • Thanks Dish 🙂 They are hysterical .. and it’s always half the word, barely pronounced. Like “ho” on an exhale. As if your students were in class saying “Fuh” and not the rest of it. Cracks me up every time.


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