When learning the language ain’t enough

My ability to speak Spanish is a never-ending work in progress. There are days when I just want to put my fist through the wall because I can’t express a damned thing and then there are others where I believe it is time to write my memoirs, in Spanish, although I think those days have a high degree of alcohol allied with them. Tied in to all of this is that #1 Fan‘s family is Catalan and while (most of them) can speak Spanish perfectly fine, they have to change up to it, just to talk to me. At times I question why I’m bothering to even learn Spanish and not just stick to Catalan, but then I remember that upwards of half a billion people speak it and it’s one of the six official UN languages, so it has its use. Naturally, as one is wont to do in Spain, I digress.

As anyone who has learned a foreign language through immersion knows, the practical mechanics of the language are one thing. I could learn all 16 Spanish verb conjugations and still sound like an idiot at times, albeit a grammatically correct one. This point came up glaringly well the other day when I was joking around with my mother in-law (who was probably saying how I had gained weight since the last visit) and said, “yeah yeah, message received” which in Spanish is something along the lines of, “he recibido el mensaje”, except of course that it isn’t.

Her initial reaction was to ask me, “what message?” This was followed by confused and escalating dialog as which point backup was called in the form of #1 Fan to perform idiomatic triage. She basically leveled the same question at me about “what message? from where? what are you talking about?”

In turn this required further explanation to say that it’s a nice way to say, “Yeah, okay, I got it, shut up.” When explained to my mother in-law, she just looked at me and asked, “Why not just tell someone to shut up? What’s the point of licking [they don’t say ‘kissing’ in Spain] their ass about it?”

And there you have it and a great deal of my frustration in trying to figure out equivalents of Spanish (as well as Catalan) sayings in English. Definitely not an endeavor to be taken lightly when one is still working on keeping track of which of the three primary past tenses to use.

When learning the language ain't enough