Monday, October 5, 2009

Who doesn't like a little blink blink?

When my husband and I first met, I spoke Spanish pretty well and he spoke very little English. He was actually a student of mine at an English Institute in Santiage. Though, as soon as we were seriously dating, I could no longer really instruct him--as it often goes with couples. Our first 4-5 years together were "conducted" nearly all in Spanish.

(btw I never let him live down the fact that though he rarely corrected my Spanish, because he said it was perfect, he corrected my grammar once during a small tiff we had--which made me even more annoyed: He says "oh and after 'intentar' you don't use 'a'--it is hilarious now, but in the moment... not so much)

So when he came to the U.S. our modus operandi as far as communication started changing. As he learned more English, we spoke a more balanced amount of the two. Until we could finally argue, each in his/her native tongue--which must sound funny. But seriously, few things are more frustrating than getting angry in a language that isn't yours.

We spent many evenings during his first few months having conversations about vowel sounds and discriminating between words, like this:

He: Say "bicho" in English

Me: bug

He: Now say "bolsa"

Me: bag

He: They sound the same

Me: No they don't--look, bug/bag

He: ok, you said bolsa then bicho

Me: no I said bicho then bolsa

He: Ok, say them again... say one of them

Me: bug

He: you said "bolsa"

Me: no that was "bicho"

....... and on and on. It was endless.

Now, his English is nearly perfect. And he has a cute little accent to boot. But he still makes amusing little mistakes. One day I asked him what he thought of a new pick-up truck that was passing. He said he didn't like it because there was too much "blink blink" I said, you mean "bling, bling." Too funny. That is one of those things you hear but not necessarily see often, and the endings do sound really similar to a Spanish speaker.

He also says some expressions a little off. Like "Jeez, Louise" where Louise ryhmes with Jeez (loo-eez). Well for the longest time, he'd say "Jesus Louis" where Louis is pronounced (loo-iss) Doesn't ryhme at all.

(Which reminds me that when I was little I couldn't say "jee" because it was too close to Jesus--which was considered sacriligious to say like that. I couldn't say "gosh" either.)

He has also picked up on expressions here in Texas, that even I don't say. Once we had guests and I was in the bedroom with the baby. Hubs comes in and says "I think they're fixin to leave." The only logical response is: "did you just say fixin to". That just seems so Southern.

I love the language learning process, so it has been cool to see him go from beginning to fluent, picking up all the slang on the way.


Crazy Mo said...

"Fixin' to leave." *snort* That's hilarious!

Sara said...

Hahah! I love that story. It reminds me of me and my boyfriend. Although he speaks some English for the first six months we were together he hardly ever spoke it because he said "You need to practice". Then, just recently he decided we needed to start speaking more English because my Spanish was "good enough". We had a very similar beach/b*tch discussion and then beer/bear/beard later.

mosey along said...

A cute little accent can help us overlook a whole litany of annoyances, can't it? At least until they use it against us.

Abby said...

Hahahaha Jeez Louis is priceless.

The guy I'm dating barely speaks English but when he does he says funny things like "hey fellows" because he heard it on an NFL playstation game. Then he got offended when I told him no one says "fellows". Hahaha.

Annje said...

Sara-- ah, yes...I had the beach/b*tch discussion with lots of students. Beer/bear/beard is a good one.

Abby--I still can't convince my husband that "pal" isn't used very much--plus he kind of pronounces it like "paul" so he'll say "he's a paul" and it takes a minute to register--funny.

Eileen said...

Jesus Louis indeed! that's hilarious. It's great that everyone gets to argue in their own language. No matter how fluent my Spanish is, there are still certain discussions I would prefer to have in English, and I would always want my mate to be able to speak to me in his native language. Sounds like you've got the best of both worlds.

And the kidlets? what do they speak?

Amanda said...

That's so cute. I love it! Last night oscar said, "Can you pass me the sprinkle water?"

I was like what?!?!

You mean: Sparkling water

:) I know I do the same thing in spanish.

Lucie said...

Thanks for sending me this post Annje! I love it! It's a perfect reflection of every gringas language issues with their foreign partner. It reminds me so much of my relationship with my fiance! Especially the part about arguing in a language.

For the first part of our relationship we spoke English. Finally, when it was time for me to go to Chile, my fiance flipped the switch and told me it was time to learn Spanish. I already knew Portuguese so it wasn't that hard to learn but still, being lazy, I preferred English. So one day he decided that in order for me to learn, he would as of now be purely speaking Spanish to me. First it infuriated me, especially when I was trying to argue and just wanted to switch to English for a second to get my feelings out, and he would still insist on speaking Spanish!

Now, since we are both fluent in each others native languages, we enjoy speaking an interesting blend of Spanglish and laugh at each others little language problems. I love the way he pronounces certain words and don't even want to correct him on it because it's just too cute!

redqueencjb said...

I have had the exact same conversation about English words sounding identical.

The language adjustments are some of my favorite things about dating a Chilean who is ESL... the accent, the little mistakes, the mispronunciations. I don't correct him intentionally sometimes because it's so funny.

I can't imagine trying to have a serious conversation in Spanish. I need my words to come as fast as my thoughts. I'm slow right now in Spanish, so that would drive me crazy!