Spanish etiquette and important phrases

Old Mar 12th, 2006, 01:19 PM
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Spanish etiquette and important phrases

I am going to Spain for spring break, and I was just wondering if any past visitors (or Spaniards themselves) could offer any advice regarding cultural customs/etiquette in Spain that may be different from those in America. Also, I do not speak Spanish (I do speak French, though I don't know if that will be useful at all), and am thus trying to give myself a crash course in basic Spanish before I go. Which basic phrases did you find the most helpful? Which are absolutely essential?
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Old Mar 12th, 2006, 01:37 PM
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I speak fluent French and adequate Italian, which enabled me to make myself understood in Spain (only one maitre d' in a tux corrected my Italian to Spanish).

The basic politenesses:
Por favor - please
Gracias - thank you
Buenos dias - good morning
Buenas tardes - good evening
Buenas noches - good night

I picked up basic vocabulary as I went along; at the moment, I couldn't tell you what the Spanish is for "How much does it cost?" but at the time, I knew it.

Culturally, I would only say that, during my first visit in 1990, machismo was alive and well in Spain. I, unwittingly, put a (male) Spanish functionary in a difficult spot, and he saw to it that things were made quite unpleasant for me, but the unpleasantness did not seriously inconvenience me. In 2000, I had no such encounter, perhaps because I had learned my lesson.

In general, I find the Spanish people haughtier and less friendly than the Italians - but I've spent a great deal more time in Italy than in Spain, and I speak the language adequately.
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Old Mar 12th, 2006, 04:00 PM
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I'm a Spaniard I really don't know customs/etiquette in the States but I think whatever thing that is polite there is also polite here , don't get mad about that.
Visiting churches try to keep your shoulders covered (it's the same in Italy and probably in every catholic church )
Don't worry too much about language..we move our arms and hands a lot when talking so mimic is really helpful ) Anyway, if you want to know something specific , I'm round here
I'm going to make a point on what Eloise said. I agree that people who works in the tourist industry tends to be less friendly than italian ones. But I wouldn't generalize. You can find as much friendly or unfriendly people here than anywhere else
An important thing to know..we usually have our meals later than you , so probably you won't find places opened before 1 PM to have lunch or 8 PM to get dinner.

That said..just relax and have fun




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Old Mar 12th, 2006, 04:31 PM
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I'm no Spanish expert but here are some phrases I've found useful:
Donde esta el bano (the n in bano is like the 'gn' in lasagna) - where is the bathroom?
Instead of "quiero" (I want), you could use "quisiera" ( I wish or would like), as in "quisiera pedir una botella de vino tinto" -- I wish to order a bottle of red wine.
Podria ayudarme, por favor? Could you/would you please help me?
Estoy perdida. -- I'm lost.
I have found the Spanish to be very polite, very helpful, and not at all unfriendly.
Buen viaje.
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Old Mar 12th, 2006, 04:43 PM
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I agree with gailw--last May we were in Italy and Spain and I found the people in both places to be very friendly, especially when I tried to speak in their language (which I tried). As we all know, there're all kinds of people everywhere, but I really have had some great experiences in Spain and love it and hope you will too.
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Old Mar 12th, 2006, 04:48 PM
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When you meet someone, you can say: Con mucho gusto (equivalent to, It's a pleasure to meet you)

Cuanto cuesta = how much is it

donde esta = where is...

vaya con dios = go with god
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Old Mar 12th, 2006, 04:48 PM
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oh, check the back of a Spain travel book for handy dandy phrases
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Old Mar 12th, 2006, 06:30 PM
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Always greet people on entering a shop, restaurant or hotel - don;t just start in on your question or statement.

Use at least the politenesses in Spanish as above - and be big on using SR and SRA - esp if the person is over 30.

Be aware that many things close after lunch due to the heat (many places still do not have AC) and reopen in the early evening. Dinner is eaten late (you'll have trouble finding a place open before 9pm and clubbing begins at 11/12 to 5am or so).

The most important phrase we found:

mas despacio por favor

even though we both had high school Spanish - that increased our comprehension by about 50%.

I wouldn't say people in Spain are unfriendly - they were always perfectly civil to us - but more restrained and not as effusive - or eager to talk about their relatives in the US - as people in Italy.
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Old Mar 12th, 2006, 06:51 PM
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Take all of this with humour (Spanish one ) :

First of all, I'm 38 and I HATE to be called SRA or whatever other thing in any language which mean the same It makes me feel old , hehehe.
(not bad to say it , though, but it's pretty formal)

Second, I've never said in my whole life "vaya con dios" ..sure, it's spanish..it's written in our rennaissance literature...

Third, it's not strange we don't talk about our relatives in the US..most of us have none.

Fourth, I agree absolutely, "mas despacio , por favor" it's the most useful phrase all around the world when you're trying to speak a foreign language. Why people always seem to be in a hurry and talk so quickly when they see you trying to mutter something understandable ??? I had a bad time with this question in London..oh, my..the speed almost killed me !!!

Finally, I hope you are, at least, smiling a bit We , Spaniards, laugh a lot..it's a philosophy of life..it's better than cry !!

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Old Mar 12th, 2006, 10:53 PM
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I was joking about Vaya Con Dios...umm. unless you visit a monastery perhaps?
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Old Mar 13th, 2006, 12:32 AM
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Hola

When I was in Spain in desperation I bought the Collins Spanish Phrase Book and Dictionary. It's pocketsize and cost me €5. You can probably get it on on Amazon.com before you go. It's fantastic. I was now able to read the menu! Some phrases I used often:

Hola: Hello
Adios: Goodbye
Buenos dias: Good morning
Buenos noches: Good night
Gracias: Thanks
Por favor: Please
Muchas gracias: Thanks very much
La cuenta, por favor: please may I have the bill
No entiendo: I don't understand
Quanto es: How much is it
Milk: leche, Beer:cerveza, Wine: red - vino tinto, white - vino blanco

Some no nos I was told was whistling at performers (taken as jeering not as appreciation) and the thumbs up which may mean OK or great to us but seen as a rude sign there.

Adios


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Old Mar 13th, 2006, 02:49 AM
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I think a "Hola, Buen Dia" to star always is a good way to star your day.

Then a good SMILE never hurts.

Then a little COMMON SENSE does not hurt either.
------------------------------------------

Recently I was touched by the class of the Spaniards,
they do have class, and are a proud people.
I hope they remain this way.

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Old Mar 13th, 2006, 03:02 AM
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Spaniards are friendly, helpful, extremely proud people; you will find out soon enough that, much like most people, they will treat you the way you treat them. I had a guard at the Alcazar in Toledo give me a personal tour of the Sword Room when I approached him and kindly asked him a question. That was not an isolated incident; I can give you plenty examples like that. So, I agree with Kenderina wholeheartedly: apply the Golden Rule everywhere/anytime you can and you will rake in the benefits.

You probably already know about the siesta and dining hours.
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Old Mar 13th, 2006, 03:32 AM
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My experience is that the most verbal interaction I have with the locals is when asking for something.

It also seems that an acceptable greeting, no matter the time of day, is to simply say "Bueno" or "Buenos".

After that:
Me gustarria {goo-sta-REE-a}(I would like)
Nos gustarria (we would like)
insert noun here, as in:
...una coppa/botella de (a cup/bottle of)
...vino/sugo/agua (wine, juice, water)
...una mappa (a map)
...la cuenta (the check)

I'm looking for:
Busco (BOO-sko)... Hotel Hilton.

Tarjetas (tar-HET-as) OK, Señor/a?
I've used that extensively for the question "Do you accept credit cards?".

Good luck.

www.nycClubTaurino.com
ciaony is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2006, 03:57 AM
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Well ...I would say that Bueno, or Buenos....does not seem enough. Try, Hola, Buenos DIas, o Buenos Dias alone.
In Argentina there is a tendency to say Buenas....like Buenas tardes, without the tardes....but I do not think this is common in Spain.
Only Bueno I am sure is not correct or acceptable, only if they see you as someone trying hard and not doing so good.
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Old Mar 13th, 2006, 04:09 AM
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I've used all that sentences in the past, but the only answer I can get from Spaniards is "no comprendo"
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Old Mar 13th, 2006, 04:20 AM
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Hi! I was just in Madrid and Andalucia last week. I have no Spanish and my husband's high school Spanish proved to be almost nonexistent, but we managed okay -- thanks to understanding locals. The phrases everyone has mentioned should do the trick for you.

Other things I noted --

Unlike many Americans, Spanish people seem to smile more judiciously. Maybe that's why we sometimes think they're unfriendly; they don't gush and smile for no reason. For example, no waiter is going to come up to you and chirp, "Hi! I'm Cindy and I'll be your server today! How y'all doin'?"

Also, we were surprised by the lisped pronunciation -- buenath diath, Barthelona, Alcathar, etc. And we found most people did greet us with "Bueno" rather than a longer phrase.

Bathrooms most commonly were called the "Aseos."

And of course, my personal favorite custom is tossing napkins, toothpicks, and other debris on the floor when you're in a tapas bar.
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Old Mar 13th, 2006, 09:04 AM
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Ohhh, lobo...that's the way we have to tell you "pleaseeeeeeee, speak portuguese " )))
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Old Mar 13th, 2006, 09:09 AM
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Yes, Tamara !!! "Con Dios, hermana !!" (with God, sister! ), it's polite with the nuns that sell wonderful sweets in Christmas time, hahaha.
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Old Mar 13th, 2006, 09:10 AM
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Personally, I find it pretentious when someone who hardly speaks Spanish does the lisping Castilian "grathias"; I stick to "gracias" with a "cee" sound.
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