Day 020 – August 11, 2011
Submitted for your approval, a trio of stories about my experiences conversing with the locals in their native language.
Since this is the fourth day in a row that I have bought this particular periodico, the vendor tells me that I do not have to say the whole name of “La Republica”. He helpfully suggests that I can simply say that I want el mismo (“the same”).
This is wonderful advice, except for the facts that a) next week I’ll start buying another newspaper to see what that media has to offer me about this country and b) I really like (and need) to practice my pronunciation
And He Shall Be Called “Kevin”
In one of those odd quirks of Nature, at every job I have held, someone at sometime, has mistakenly called me “Kevin”. I call this odd because “Kevin” is not my name.
At one place of employment when I lived in America’s Finest City, a particular co-worker called me “Kevin” time and time again. For the first dozen times, I would correct her, only to have her address me by the incorrect appellation the next time we met. I bowed to the inevitable and, to her and only her, I was known as “Kevin”.
Since living in California, I worked for four companies on the East Coast and there was always a moment when someone would mistakenly address me as “Kevin”.
Today, we had workers at the house fixing a minor-bordering-on-major maintenance issue and the foreman of the workers arrived to deliver lunch. I introduced myself and walked him around the house trying to tell him what a great job his men were doing.
As he left, I thanked him by name and as he turned to me to say “Chau”, I could see in his face that look that flashes across my face when I forget someone’s name. Instead of simply not saying my name and moving on with the farewell, he took a stab and said…
“Hasta luego, Señor Kevin.”
Maybe I just emit a Kevin-Aura.
Where I Show Off My Mad Charades Skillz
Before lunch, when the workers were here, one of them asked me if there were places to eat in the neighborhood. I wanted to say, “Yes, there are many near here”.
In my halting Spanish, I started with “Si, hay muchos restaurantes…”, but then I couldn’t come up with the word for “near”. I know the Spanish word for “far” (lejos), but not its antonym.
(Linguistic Aside: Does anyone else find it odd that while there is an antonym for “antonym” – which would be “synonym” – there is no synonym for “synonym”?)
Sometimes when I don’t know a word, I will break out the pantomime. Here, I started off the game with the question of “Cual es la palabra para…?” (“What is the word for…?”) I then backed away from the worker and said “Lejos” to tell him that I was far, and then I moved up quite close to him and asked “Cual es la palabra para no lejos?” (“What is the word for ‘not far’?”).
He eyed me for a moment possibly trying to determine if I was moderately or severely deranged and then he said “Cerca”.
Thus, I learned a new Spanish word today.
“Cerca” either means “near” or it means “extreme violator of personal space”.
I’m pretty sure it’s the first option because the worker did not breaks out in fits of laughter after I told him “Hay muchos restaurantes cerca de aqui”.