I’m starting a new job fairly soon. I’ll be teaching English. (Wait, again?) This time, though, it won’t be to surly, unwilling Spanish high school students, but to hyperactive elementary school children, mainly from Mexico. As a part of my job, I also work as the school liaison to the Spanish-speaking community.
This Monday, as a part of my job, I worked for new student registration. My principal had asked me to do so, just in case any families came that couldn’t speak English. Only one did, but I soon realized I am very Spanish in my Spanish. (Confused yet?)
You see, in high school, they taught us Mexican / South American Spanish. So, when I went to Spain in the first time (2008), I had a lot to learn. After having spent a long stretch of time there, as well as having a Spanish boyfriend, my Spanish has been transformed. I speak Spain Spanish. While talking to this mother and her little boy, I tried (if somewhat unsuccessfully) to speak Mexicano and not Castellano (Spain Spanish). No go.
Here’s how I know:
- I use vosotros all the time. I like it; it’s useful; why don’t Mexicans use it? It makes no sense.
- Ceceo. It’s not a lisp, and I hate it when people make fun of others for using. That’s how it’s done in Spain. It’s not being pretentious to mimic their accents. It’s how you sound good, near native. I don’t think it’s odd when non-native speakers mimic American accents if they live in the U.S. or English ones if they live there. It’s just what you do.
- Leísmo. This one I know is grammatically incorrect, but when I hear people doing it daily, it’s hard not to mimic. (If you don’t know Spanish at all, you probably won’t get this.) Le veo…wrong, but oh so right (at least in Spain).
- Coger. That word is another example of extreme usefulness. Coger el bus, coger una idea, coger una cosa. In Spanish, they mean get, catch, capture…in Latin American, the F-word. Yeah, so I’m going to try desperately to avoid using that one. Ever.
- La jota. The J in Spain Spanish is very strong. I loved it when my students would pronounce ham like chhhhammmm (like in Chanukah – you have to haaack when you say it!). I tend to overdo it, even in Spain, so imagine what my hacking sounds to Mexicans. Ha.