Speaking (broken) Spanish to Spaniards

Feb 21st, 2006, 07:26 PM
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Speaking (broken) Spanish to Spaniards

I'm visiting Spain next month. I have been learning Spanish - and am at the intermediate level. How easy is it to speak to people, if you don't master the language perfectly well? Are they patient? Do they mind?
I'm seeking comments from you who have had experience in this respect. Thanks!!
louanne is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 07:41 PM
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Hi Louanne,
I think that you'll be surprised at how well you do. I always try to learn abit of the language before I leave for Europe.

Went to Spain a couple of years ago after some steady practice with Living Languages software and cds in the car. I learned enough to help us get where we needed to go. I even won an arguement with a crooked taxi cab driver, much to my surprise, and then there was the really important stuff... to order a bottle of wine and find the bathrooms.

You'll have a great time!
iwannago2 is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 09:01 PM
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For the most part, I made myself understood in Spain. For me the problem came when people answered me, and I couldn't understand them if their response was at all complicated.

I wish now that I hadn't asked them to speak more slowly or to repeat what they'd said. I think people are patient and probably like it when you attempt to speak their language, even though you haven't mastered it.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 09:03 PM
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Oops! I meant to say that I wish I HAD asked them to speak more slowly...
Pegontheroad is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 09:24 PM
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Hablo muy pequito espanol, pero trento y los personas son muy amable.

I LOVE Spain and have been taking Spanish lessons for over 3 years now and am TERRIBLE at languages, but when I go to Spain, the people are so gracious about my awful Spanish. Actually, it's been a real ice-breaker as so often I start laughing, and then they laugh with (at?) me and it really makes for some nice, warm feelings. I really think most of the people appreciate the fact that you try...many tourists don't even make an attempt.

Just relax and enjoy yourself and have a great trip (and let us know all about it!)
artlover is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 11:33 PM
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try to start most request with " perdone, señor/señora..( excuse me sir/ma)" with a smile and most people will be very happy you are trying to speak their language.

keep it simple.

learn how to pronounce the few vowel sounds there are..this is perhaps the most important advice. Spanish is quite simple to pronounce once you get the CORRECT vowel sounds down.

imagine trying to understand a foreigner in english who wanted to say "car" and he kept saying "keer" perfectly... or "shoe" and said "shay" .

vowel sounds
a. e. i . o . u

aa (far), ay (day), ee (feed), o (home), oo (food)

not exact, but bascially these sounds for the pure vowels.

lincasanova is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2006, 01:22 PM
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Thank you all... this is very helpful!
louanne is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2006, 01:42 PM
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Say this slowly (spelled phenetically)

"Fabor dey hablar despacio. Acabo de aprender espanyol."

Please speak slowly. I am just learning Spanish.

This should get a grin and alot of patience.
LynnieD is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2006, 02:23 PM
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There are 40 million Spaniards.

My Spanish is awful by their standards - which probably puts me in the most fluent 1% of foreign tourists.

Hotel and most car hire staff in the major resorts and airports really have better things to do with their time than help me learn their language. And the impatience sometimes shows.

Outside these places, even my dreadful pastiche of Spanish is infinitely better than many ordinary Spaniards' grasp of English or any other foreign language.

In between: some Spaniards quite like letting me stutter through their language, even though it might be easier for all of us if they didn't. Some think it'd be a kindness to help me out of their misery. Overall, though, in ordinary bars in towns like Jerez, even multilingual staff seem marginally to prefer dealing with someone prepared to give Spanish a go (any variety: even in Catalonia they seem mildly chuffed if I come out in Castillian)

When God created Spaniards, She didn't use a cookie-cutter - any more than She did with any other race, except possibly the poor North Koreans. But no-one (except for the odd urban boy) has ever laughed at my Spanish, or treated me with anything other than respect for trying.

And I feel a lot better (and ever so superior) for so doing.
CotswoldScouser is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2006, 02:39 PM
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I'm not sure I would say I was at the intermediate level -- actually, I've been taking Spanish off and on at night for several years now, and I am now at the level the college calls intermediate, which means I've finished about 1-1/2 to 2 years of university level Spanish or the text book that is used for those two years. Anyway, I didn't have much trouble at all in Spain communicating and them understanding me (in Madrid and Andalucia). It was much better than France where they can get real snippy about you speaking their language without an absolutely pure French accent (even though French people often have terrible accents when speaking English). They were not critical at all in Spain and were very patient.

I will admit a funny thing happened when I got stuck in Cordoba one day off in some strange local neighborhood due to a bus breakdown, and I ended up communicating in French with a local, because I knew French better than Spanish, and they knew French, also.
Christina is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2006, 02:57 PM
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I've communicated in Spanish, German, and Latin while in Italy. Whatever works...
Pegontheroad is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2006, 05:24 PM
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Almost everyone in Spain will be charmed that you have bothered to learn any of their language. And - if there's any confusion they will be hapapy to help you.

(I had a cab driver giving me lessons on the numbering of Spanish Kings when I got the wording wrong - ie 13th vs thirteen.) Don;t worry about getting everything exactly right - just being understood.

The key if you're having trouble is just to ask people to speak more slowly. (Operating on 20 year old high school Spanish I just kept saying hablo un poquito solamente and mas despacio por favor - which seemed to work just fine.)
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 24th, 2006, 01:03 PM
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French has about 28 different vowel sounds, making it quite a bit more difficult to be understood if you do not say them correctly than spanish, which has only a third that, at the most.

so realistically, many times, natives can just not figure out what you are trying so hard to say...

putting the accent(stress) on the wrong syllable, or not pronouncing a vowel correctly can easily create more of a comprehension problem than a lot of people realize.
lincasanova is offline  

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