I live with a Mexican family, that other than the usual pleasantries (Good morning, good night, etc.) do not speak English, and though my vocabulary is growing my ability to truly communicate is vastly limited. I try though.
I am told that I am learning quickly, although I do not feel so confident in my abilities. My head literally hurts some days as I try to understand. And, there are times my brain absolutely refuses to speak Spanish no matter how hard I might try.
To over come my inadequacies, I have downloaded two language apps that unlike Google translation, work offline. One is an English-Spanish dictionary, just like the book form only handily kept on your Smartphone where it is easy to reference and less likely to be left behind somewhere. The other is a translation program, Jibbigo, that translates phrases or sentences in a number of languages, so if you and the person you are trying to communicate with can both read and type, you can actually have a simple two-way conversation. The phone will even do the talking for you, in case your pronunciation is horrible.
As we were sitting around the dinner table recently, Irma’s granddaughters were curious about my translation app so we played around – translating and pronouncing different words. It all started because I wanted to say something was funny, so I looked it up – co’mico (pronounced CO mee co). When I was trying to help them pronounce funny, which proved to be difficult for them (Spanish does not have a short u sound). I said it was similar to the name of Irma’s daughter, and the girls’ mother, Fanny (pronounced Fahn ee). We made ” funny” the word of the day and went on comparing other words in Spanish and English.
Later when I asked Carlita (Fanny’s youngest daughter) what the word of the day was. She thought for a moment and said, “Mama?” So much for word association! Yet, we all got a big kick out of her answer.
The following morning Irma questioned me about “good morning,” “good afternoon,” “good night,” and tested out all the other English words she thought she knew. (Quite a few actually!) Despite her initial objection that she was too old to learn English, she just might learn after all.
In fact, we (the whole family) will all learn together. Much more fun than studying a book for hours on end; more practical too because you learn the words you will actually use.
Our word for today is amiga/amigo – friend.