cobilingual


Spanish in a small town
October 7, 2007, 9:55 pm
Filed under: language, spain, travel



I’m living in a small Spanish town somewhere between Seville and the Portuguese border for the next month. As well as editing a bunch of books I’m going to learn Spanish. I’m off to a pretty good start because at the moment (due to the nepotistic rental market) we’re staying in a lovely rural residence owned by a very enthusiastic and interested middle-aged couple who don’t speak much English.

This morning I had a few missions. I wanted to find out whether I could do the laundry myself. The answer was no – but I may be allowed to handwash things, I was a bit confused by her response.

I wanted to get directions to the supermarket. Instead, I’m getting a lift to the supermarket this afternoon, which is nice – though it would be good to wander around the town to get a sense of place.

I wanted to ask if we could keep some salt in our bathroom for Ian to gargle with as he has a sore throat. That’s not the kind of sentence you learn in basic Spanish classes. This is why I’m not sold on formal classes. In this digital age I think it’s much better to get somewhere and learn by immersion, with the help of internet resources. Between Babelfish and this intuitive dictionary, I learnt to say everything I needed. Understanding the responses is a different matter, but hopefully that will come with time.

I found that with tricky expressions like ‘hand wash’, googling is better than using a crude translator, as someone else has probably written it somewhere online. So, in case people are googling things I learnt this morning, here are some phrases:

¿Puede darme direcciones al supermercado? = Can you give me directions to the supermarket?

Ian tiene dolor de garganta. ¿Podemos mantener un poco de sal en el cuarto de baño para él hacer gargaras? = Ian has a sore throat. Can we keep some salt in the bathroom for him to gargle?

Éstas son las palabras que he aprendido hoy. = These are the words I’ve learnt today.

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Your adventure sounds like a lot of fun! Buena Suerte con el idioma – es una buena manera de aprender.

Comment by Lindsay MacNeil

I googled ‘gargle in Spanish’ today! My Spanish is still at the basic level and I was talking with my friend who lives in Peru over MSN, and he said he has a soar throat. He had never hear of gargling with saltwater. He thought he was suoppse to drink the saltwater! Thanks for posting ‘gargle’! Your site helped me to explain what to do.

Comment by Teresa Zimbrick

[…] my taste of the Spanish speaking world based near Seville in 2007, I’ve been itching to get to South America. I made a pact with two girlfriends that […]

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