Monday, November 17, 2008

Mangling Spanglish

by Andrew

One of the goals of our trip to Latin America is to have the children learn Spanish--at least, more Spanish than they were picking up at school watching Scooby Doo Goes to Mexico. Total language immersion, we were told, would have the children speaking conversational Spanish in three months. Unfortunately, we are having difficulty finding a Spanish pool deep enough in which to dunk them.

All the children in Buenos Aires are in school, so Graham and Katharine have yet to meet any kids their own age. I had hoped they would be able to join pick-up soccer games in the many parks near our apartment, but these are the domain of the famed crap hounds of BA. For the most part, local children play in organized school sports or at swanky athletic clubs near Palermo.

While we intensify our search for a tutor, the children's Spanish instruction has largely consisted of three primary sources:

1) Hearing their parents mangle the language in new and excruciating ways. Employees in the local bakeries and cafes visibly shudder when we walk in the door. There is actually talk in the neighborhood of reconstituting the Spanish Inquisition, with a new language-oriented mandate.

2) Watching TV in Spanish, or rather American TV dubbed into Spanish. Almost all the shows come from the U.S., and it's just a matter of time before we see Scooby Doo Goes to Mexico. We've discovered that it's actually much harder to learn a language when the movement of the speakers' lips doesn't match the words you are hearing. Katharine, either for comedic value or because she is seriously confused, will now say something in Spanish and then keep her lips moving silently for several seconds afterwards. This, too, has posed a problem locally (see Spanish Inquisition, above).

3) By reading billboards and subway signs, most of which involve naked women. Graham may not be able to buy a bus ticket in Spanish, but he is fluent when it comes to any discussion about the benefits of a bikini wax.

1 comment:

yo, por favor said...

Ay,Dios mio! Que va traer el futuro ?