Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The circuits are on the fritz (or an update on learning a new language)

Yesterday I started my day with a nine am Spanish lesson. My teacher Rocio and I went on a shopping field trip to several household trinket type tiendas (a tienda is a very small stall-like store).

The trip was entirely done in Spanish.

Then, I went to wash potatoes in El Sendero and listened to a Spanish CD.

At noon, I had a Spanish lesson with Indira.

On my way home, I stopped by another tienda to get a couple of notebooks and pens. My spanish is good enough now that I can shop completely on my own. And besides, I had just had 4 hours of Spanish study, how bad could it be?

Famous last brain waves.

I was able to express what I wanted and paid, but then the vendadora asked me a question:
"Cual es tu numero de celular?"

Ummmm... what?
Seriously, I didn't have a clue.
She repeated herself, started to laugh at me, and finally delved into miming. She was pretty good mime.

Finally, I understood her.

She wanted my telephone number. Stupid of me. Numero de celular sounds very much like it's english counterpart.

All that work for nothing. I have never known my telephone number. I was seriously tempted to give her Tara's number (which is what I do (on accident) in the states).

And if that weren't enough:

Yesterday evening, I was walking to El Sendero and saw a young teenager carrying a floral arrangement. It looked like a school project and was, I kid you not, the prettiest floral arrangement I have ever seen.

It stopped me dead in my tracks and before my mouth could stop my brain, I blurted out what I think was meant to be:
iQue Bonita! (which means How beautiful!) (It's what I had actually thought)

Unfortunately, my brain was also misfiring. What I actually said was:
Buenos Dias! very loudly and emphatically.

Since it was nighttime, there was absolutely no way to get around the embarrassment. I tucked my tail between my legs and walked on to the cafe.

While there, a new spasm of a recent illness attacked me. The illness has no foreseeable cure and so I'm stuck with its awful symptoms.
Since I am the first to discover it, I have chosen the name

Here's how the attack goes.
Someone hands me a glass of water.
I say, "Mucho Gusto"

Someone says they like my hair.
I say, "Mucho Gusto".
And on, and on, and on. It's terribly humiliating and I just can't seem to stop.

For those not in the know, Mucho Gusto is the Spanish form of, "so nice to meet you".

It should not be used in place of: "Muchas Gracias".

I am having to do all my own research in this matter, because everyone else seems to be caught up in things like cancer and skin irritations.

My theory is that learning a language is a bit like weight lifting. You have to lift weights until your muscle tears a little and then you take a day or two off until your muscle heals to be bigger and stronger than before.

So, I am taking the day off from Spanish. My poor brain needs to heal, and I hypothesize that tomorrow and the day after it will have healed to be bigger and stronger than before.

Probably by Sunday I will be fluent.

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