Posted by: Cat of Sunshine and Siestas | March 10, 2009

Me quejo hoy de….

Today I complain about all the people who poke fun at my accent.

I ran into Christene coming home from a lesson today. We walked a good recorrida from Reina Mercedes to Puente de Los Remedios until I decided I wanted to have a beer. We went to a place called Primera de la Puente that has really good tapas. Christene has the most unaccented Spanish I’ve ever heard – she flat out refused to not pronounce the last syllable and doesn’t omit her s sounds like all Andalusians. I, on the other hand, keep picking up the accent because of my exposure to it. She ordered her glass of wine and I ordered my beer.

“Una cervecita, por favor” was mocked “uhhh-nuhhh ssssiiiirrrrvAAAhhhjjuuuhhh” and not, “oo-nuh ser-vay-ca”. REALLY? I’m going to give you business and you’re going to mock me?!

I get people who tell me my accent is funny although they understand me and what I want to express, and that I do it without mistakes. (Cat, hablas muy bien y te entiendo perfectamente, pero tu accento me hace mucha gracia is as coming as people saying hola to me when I walk in a store). Imagine you learned a language for several years from another non-native speaker and then went to the origin of that language and learned it well only to have it ravaged by living two years in the place where they butcher the language, swallow the last syllable and practically talk with their mouth shut. Your accent would be messed up, wouldn’t it?!

I always tell my students that the most important part of learning another language is trying to be understood. I have to explain things in a million words when I lack just one or make gestures or draw to be understood sometimes. But communication and ultimately getting my point across has always ALWAYS been the aim of any kind of conversation here.

As for the waiter at La Primera, I kept my mouth shut. Being tactful won out over “Do you speak another language, or are you just ignorant? Because I’m learning a third one while you can barely be understood in your own?”

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