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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