Hats Off To Language

Day 089 – October 19, 2011

My grasp of the Spanish language continues to barely elude my eager grasp.

Oh heck, who am I kidding. Despite being in Peru for almost three months and taking Spanish lessons, I am no closer to grasping a command of the language than I am to grasping the Nobel Prize for Economics (Official Name: The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. I hope you’ve learned something new here).

The setting for today’s story for linguistic laughter is our children’s School where my assignment was to purchase a swimming cap for my two younger children who would soon be participating in the School’s Aquatics class.

All was going according to plan until the moment came when I was in the clothing store at the School facing the clerk and opening my mouth to speak. I had neglected to do my homework (i.e., go on-line and use Google Translate or look at my foolscap dictionary) and realized that I did not know the word for “swimming cap”.

Thankfully, I am graced with the lighting-quick, rapier-sharp mental ability (friends and family…stop laughing!) to think on my feet. Armed with this ability and a rudimentary knowledge of the local language, I was able to confidently place my request for a somberero de nadar.

Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it. Somberero = hat and nadar = “to swim”.

As the snickers and chortles diminished from the pair of clerks, I was handed two swimming caps from the shelves.

Or, as they called them…gorro de nataction.

And I learned something new there.

When I told my family this amusing adventure around the dinner table, my middle child’s imagination ran wild as he pictured a swimmer competing in a stereotypical Mexican somberero. As he is artistically inclined, here is his visual representation of that scene…

Picture by son

Sombrero Swimmer:2011 (pencil on paper)

I’m biased, but the kid has talent.


About sinpolaris

sinpolaris is the psuedonym of a guy who likes to write.

Posted on January 6, 2012, in Difference, Peru and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Don’t give up! It takes a while, but how much are you using Spanish everyday? Honestly, you can take as many classes as you want, but I truly believe the best/fastest way to learn the (a) language is by using it, not just studying it. You will make mistakes, but you will quickly learn the right and wrong and it will stick.

    • Thanks for the encouragement. With an empleada in the house and with my daily outings into the suburbs of Lima, I am using my rusty every Spanish. Previous posting (and some future ones) have showcased the mistakes I have made. Thankfully, to a person, the people of Peru have been kind and forgiving with my mangling of their language.

  1. Pingback: October 1, 2012: El Comercio « Periodically, Peru

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