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Falling down man-hole covers – learning the language

In our previous post about learning Spanish we said our progression was snail-like. Move on a couple of weeks and the snail has encountered crushed egg-shells and desert sand.

It’s all too easy to abandon verb drills as we walk up the lane into town. Instead, we discuss what to buy for supper or comment on the man-hole covers regularly left open for people to fall down (Health & Safety seems non-existent in Spain).

It doesn’t help that we currently lack internet access for most of the day. In London we watched videos to help with the language.

S is considering taking classes with a local teacher. M is too, although he has an attention span of a Panda bear in mating season and hates ‘classroom’ teaching (9% in a school Latin exam, you see the task ahead…).

So maybe it’s private lessons – but they come at a price and it would mean sacrificing certain things, like supper.

There have been some successes. A while back we managed to say: Este móvil no es mio, es el móvil de Paul. Vendrá recogerlo – This mobile isn’t mine, it’s Paul’s mobile. He’ll come and collect it. (If this is wrong, let us know!)

The person we said it to – Luisa, manageress at El Molino, who always speaks to us in English despite our best efforts – clapped and let the whole place know about our linguistic breakthrough.

The important point is that we HAD to say it; we were entrusted to arrange its collection.

There have been failures. Outside a café a person asked if they could take a spare chair. Under pressure, the response was: ‘Si, es un libro‘ (Yes, it’s a book) and not ‘Si, está libre‘ (It’s free). But having someone think you’ve taken LSD is a small price to pay for these slip-ups. At least we were trying to communicate, which is what all the language CDs tell you to do.

Canal Sur Radio has helped our 80s pop music vocabulary. Does anyone know what: “I just died in your arms tonight’ by Cutting Crew is in Spanish?. Not: ‘I died’, or ‘I was dying’, or ‘I have died’ – but: ‘I just died’.

Of course, the best way to learn quickly is to have someone around you all the time who speaks Spanish – like a live-in student. But this isn’t going to happen so we just need to knuckle down.

To take a leaf out of the fab Notes on a Spanish Valley blog, here are today’s must-know words:

Otter – nutria
Ballast – lastre
Sales executive – ejecutivia de ventas (f)
Waist-deep – hasta la cintura
Lawnmower – cortacésped
Moist – húmedo
Kleptomaniac – cleptómano
Halibut – halibut

Ooh, look what we’ve found:  ‘(I just) died in your arms tonight’ with Spanish subtitles

Related posts:

Language MOT

Los días son claros – learning Spanish

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All about Granada, Órgiva, La Alpujarras, Las Alpujarras, Andalucia, Spain – tapas, history, local guides and more.


5 thoughts on “Falling down man-hole covers – learning the language

  1. Just got referred to your blog by a retweet!

    Congrats on studying Spanish and trying actively to improve. Talking is the best way (for me, at least)!

    The only thing “wrong” with your sentence is it should be: “Vendrá A recogerlo.” In Spanish, you say “Voy A correr,” “Irá a cantar,” etc. It’s always ir + a + verb. 🙂

    Posted by Kaley | August 21, 2013, 5:04 pm
    • Hi Kaly – thanks for putting us right (had a feeling there’d be a mistake somewhere!). Now following your blog – and interesting and unknown part of Spain – for us at least.

      Posted by con jamón spain | August 22, 2013, 10:26 am
  2. Talking of Cutting the 80s the band M was in found themselves rehearsing next door to this lot in a London studio. They played this song and we went home. Our band didn’t last much longer.

    Posted by con jamón spain | August 21, 2013, 10:22 am
  3. Sure it wasn’t a lizard taking a dip? Good word: tritón

    Posted by con jamón spain | August 21, 2013, 10:14 am
  4. Nutria…. that’s going to come in really handy some day… how about tritón (newt)? Someone had them in their pool, that’s how it came up for me 😉

    Posted by ladyofthecakes | August 20, 2013, 7:41 pm
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