Conversations at Casa López – Part 7

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Here we go – my family’s most recent “bilingual moments” and funny conversations. (Be sure to share your recent funny conversations in comments!)

17 year old son: I got to speak Spanish twice today. All the Latino customers keep choosing my line when they see me.

Tracy: Really?

17 year old son: Yeah but I don’t just start speaking Spanish to them cause I can’t assume, you know? So I start in English, then they like test me out with one or two words in Spanish to see if I know it, then we start talking in Spanish.

13 year old son: We got to choose names in Spanish class.

Tracy: But your name is already Spanish.

13 year old son: It wasn’t on the chart to pick from. I chose Rafael, like from Jane the Virgin.

Carlos: What’s the difference between a meteor and a meteorite?

17 year old son: Meteorites are like the “-ito” in Spanish. They’re little pieces of the meteor.

17 year old son: I’m not sure if jeans would be proper attire. What do you think?

Carlos: A tire?

17 year old son: Yeah.

Carlos: Like una llanta?

17 year old son: What does una llanta mean?

Carlos: A tire.

17 year old son: Ok, um, yeah, do you think jeans are proper attire?

Carlos: I don’t understand what you’re talking about.

Tracy: Attire, babe. Attire means clothing, ropa. Not tire like llanta.

Carlos: Clothing?

Tracy: Yes.

Carlos: Why didn’t he say clothing?

Carlos: The lady didn’t type in my email right. She said ‘v as in vase?’ and I said yes.

Tracy: Why did you say yes? There’s no ‘b’ in your email.

Carlos: V! V as in vase!

Tracy: B as in bass?

Carlos: What are you saying? Big b, or little v?

Tracy: We don’t need that in English but when you say them they sound the same.

Carlos: Are you making a vaca negra?

Tracy: If that means ‘Coke Float’, then yes.

Conversations at Casa Quezada – a guest post!

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I absolutely adore Tracy’s posts that share the hilarious, family moments that make up her bilingual household. I can relate so much, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to add a few of our own family’s multicultural conversations.

I’m an American girl, born and raised in the South. I am “bilingual-friendly,” meaning I know just enough Spanish to be dangerous. My Guatemalan husband Billy and I are raising our two bilingual-ish kiddos in Atlanta, Georgia. Here are few of our favorite Spanglish-y moments!

Me: (looking around the parking garage) Okay, we’re parked in Aisle 8.
Billy: THAT? (pointing at the sign) That. That is how you spell aisle?! Eye-eez-lay???

Billy: (hanging pictures) Does it look straight?
Me: Hmm… I’m not sure. Are we sure we want them there? Maybe a little higher?
Billy: (handing me a hammer and some nails) Go kill yourself!
Me: Um… What?
Billy: It’s an expression. You know…
[long pause]
Me: Oooh, knock yourself out!

Me: (reading a picture book in Spanish)
4 YO Daughter: Mom, please stop. I know that you don’t speak Spanish.

When dad has two languages, and mom has only one, you get this:
4 YO Daughter: My daddy is my Papi. And my mama is a big girl!

At a fruit stand in Los Angeles

Me: Hola. Por favor quisiera piña, sandía, mango, y coca.
Vendor: (eyes widening) Coca? Quiere coca?
Billy: No, no, no. Ella quiere coco.

Basically, I ordered a bunch of fruit and then “coke,” which, similar to English, is also slang for cocaine. I just wanted some coconut!

Me: Where are the chips I asked you to buy?
Billy: (hands me a bag)
Me: (putting away the Ranch dip) Awh, man. I asked you for chips, not tortilla chips!
Billy: Wait. What? You wanted potato chips? But you asked me for chips, not potato chips!

Stranger at the airport: Are you going to Guatemala?
4 YO Daughter: No, no. I’m going to Wat-te-ma-la. Wat-te-ma-la is Spanish. Gwah-tuh-mall-uh is English.

Thankfully, this kind man turned to my husband to ask if we were raising her to be bilingual and then offered some sweet encouragement.

Sitting in the OB/GYN office with our first pregnancy.

Me: “I’ve been having Charlie Horses at night.”
Billy: What are those?
Me: Leg cramps.
Billy: Why don’t you call them leg cramps?
Me and the midwife: I don’t know!
The midwife: Have you been having any Braxton Hicks?
Me: I don’t think so.
Billy: What is that?
Me: False contractions.
Billy: Why does everything in English need a first and last name?

My daughter’s toddler friend trying to work out our bicultural household:
Well, her mommy’s name is Sarah. And her daddy’s name is Papi.

We were visiting a Spanish church for the very first time. I was about seven months pregnant.

Stranger: Bienvenidos! (Rubbing my belly with both hands.) Hola bebito!
Billy: (looking at my panicked face and laughing) We’re not in an English church anymore! (leaning in towards me in mocking compassion) Do you want to go hide in the corner?
Me: (eyes wide, nodding) Yes!

sarah-quezada Sarah Quezada lives in Atlanta, Georgia in a talkative, Spanglish household with her Guatemalan husband and two amusing kiddos. She writes about culture, family, and immigration on her blog, A Life with Subtitles. Sarah is a big fan of travel, basketball, and peppermint patties. You can connect with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Conversations at Casa López – Part 6

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Here we go – my family’s most recent “bilingual moments” and funny conversations. (Be sure to share your recent funny conversations in comments!)

Tracy: Mejor el perro malo que conoces que el perro que no conoces.

– Tracy mixing up the dicho “Más vale lo malo conocido que lo bueno por conocer.”

Carlos: “Tracy, why are you talking so loud? You’re like a vieja tamalera. ”

– Carlos when I was apparently talking too loud early in the morning

13 year old son: How do you say ‘pig’ in Spanish?

Tracy: Cerdo.

13 year old son: … But I thought it was ‘cuche’?

(“Cuche” is Salvadoran slang for pig.)

Tracy: The boys both need new earbuds again.

Carlos: Again? Both of them?

Tracy: Yeah… Hey, is there a Salvadoran Spanish word for someone who always breaks or loses things?

Carlos: Yeah, irresponsables.

13 year old son: You’re always watching that.

Tracy:: [shrugs] I like it and they always play re-runs.

13 year old son: But you never finish it. Is “La Fea Más Bella” a series or a movie?

Carlos: It’s a soap opera.

13 year old son: What’s that?

Tracy: A telenovela.

13 year old son: Oh. Why didn’t you just say that?

Tracy: ¿Estas tortillas son hechas de harina o de trigo?

Carlos’s friend: Maíz.

[I was trying to ask if they were flour or corn tortillas but for some reason I stupidly asked if they were tortillas made from wheat or flour – which is the same thing. Basically, “Are these flour tortillas or flour tortillas?”]

Carlos: I got everything we need to make the Smurfs.

Tracy: S’mores.

Carlos: Oh, right. Smurfs are pitufos.

Gracias a los policías colombianos

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Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

A veces es difícil tener fe en la humanidad. Hay tantas cosas malas pasando en el mundo y tanta gente eligiendo hacer daño a sus hermanos en vez de ayudarles. Pero lo hermoso es que toma sólo un pequeño acto de amor y bondad por llenar mi corazón.

Hoy el acto que tocó mi corazón hasta el punto de llorar venía de estos valientes hombres – policías colombianos que arriesgaron sus vidas para salvar a un perro siendo arrastrado por las aguas de la inundación.

Son increíbles y sólo quiero agradecerles públicamente. No hay palabras suficientes para expresar lo que siento, pero policías colombianos, si ustedes están leyendo esto, yo les mando un fuerte abrazo de los Estados Unidos y les deseo un millón de bendiciones. Gracias por todo lo que hacen por proteger vidas – grandes y pequeñas.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Sometimes it’s difficult to have faith in humanity. There are so many bad things happening in the world and so many choosing to harm their brothers rather than help them. But the beautiful thing is that it takes only one small act of love and kindness to fill my heart.

Today the thing that touched my heart to the point of tears was these brave men – Colombian policemen who risked their lives to save a dog being swept away in flood waters.

They’re amazing and I just want to thank them publicly. There aren’t words to sufficiently express how I feel, but Colombian policemen, if you guys are reading this, I send you a big hug from the United States and I wish you all a million blessings. Thank you for all you do to protect lives – both big and small.

Pingüino Rodríguez

notes

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Ustedes ya saben cuanto me gusta el tema de malentendidos entre lenguajes, entonces les presento este video bien chistoso sobre hispanohablantes que cantan mal las letras de canciones en inglés. ¡Disfrutenlo!

(Gracias a Nyn Vasquez por mandarme el video!)

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

You guys already know how much I like the topic of misunderstandings between languages, and so I present this really humorous video about Spanish-speakers singing incorrect lyrics to songs in English. Enjoy!

(Hat tip to Nyn Vasquez!)

Conversations at Casa López – Part 6

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Carlos has been on a roll lately with bilingual mix-ups! Here are a few of my favorites. (I’ll definitely have to do a post like this soon with just my own Spanish mistakes to keep things fair!)

Carlos: The coffee doesn’t taste good with just a little sugar.
Tracy: The problem is you don’t want to go cold turkey. You’ll get used to it faster like that.
Carlos: But I don’t want to be a cold turkey.

[Watching “The Hunger Games”]
Carlos: Wait, so where is Cactus right now?
Tracy: Her name is Katniss, not Cactus.

Tracy: You need to just let it go and move on.
Carlos: No way, I’m not going to just throw this under the rock.

[Carlos confusing the idiom “Sweep it under the rug.”]

[Switching around the radio stations in the car. “Sweet Home Alabama” comes on the radio.]

Tracy: I’ll leave it for you, I know you like this song.
Carlos: Yeah, but I like better the one with Chris Rock.
Tracy: I think you mean Kid Rock.

El Escarabajo Dorado (a guest post)

Image source: José Luis Celada Euba

Image source: José Luis Celada Euba

Today’s guest post about a humorous turned enlightening moment had while living in Peru, comes to us from Fabianne, a high school Spanish teacher, world traveler, and the blogger behind “Blogging Is Narcissistic But…

Last year I shared an apartment in the noisy city of Trujillo, Peru with two Spanish roommates. One night, I found myself in the kitchen when a big, scary something started frantically buzzing around the room, smacking its chunky body against the walls, seemingly desperate to escape. Meanwhile, the window was, as always, wide open to cleanse the space of my roommates’ tobacco habit. I let out a little yelp and waved my hands in the air, which only seemed to offer the opposite of my intended message as it zoomed toward me in a state of panic.

I heard one of my roommates say, “She’s shouting in English again,” and the two of them came rushing to my rescue.

Cucaracha?” (Yes, that is actually how you say cockroach) asked one.

“No! I don’t know what this is!” I gasped as it propelled its seemingly light-brown body toward us. All three of us screamed simultaneously and ran for the kitchen door. Mar shut it behind us and we laughed at ourselves.

“What is that?” she shouted. “It’s enormous!”

At the time, I didn’t know the word for moth in Spanish. (Now I do. Polilla. I’ll never forget it. High stakes situations make for great learning experiences.) So I opted for the word for butterfly because once I read that most insects that appear to be butterflies are actually moths. I figured it was my best bet.

Una mariposa?” They asked, skeptical.

Algo como una mariposa pero con un cuerpo gordo,” (“Something like a butterfly but with a fat body,”) I explained. They both stared at me.

“Well we can’t just stand out here,” my other roommate Vanessa said, entering the kitchen and heroically grabbing the broom. She struck at the fat-bodied butterfly, which was still making circles around the kitchen, using two hands to wield her domestic weapon. Mar and I screamed and laughed from a safe distance, when suddenly, after one swift sweep of the broom, we watched it come spiraling down. She got it. It wasn’t dead, but injured beyond flight, rattling on the kitchen floor. Vanessa leaned over her kill to get a closer look, and let out a little gasp.

“It’s not a butterfly!” she shouted, almost angry. Yes, that much I knew, I just lacked the necessary vocabulary. “It’s an escarabajo!” A beetle, she said.

Escarabajo!” I shouted, not particularly out of concern but mostly because I love that word. So onomatopoeic. When I hear it, I picture a little black beetle scraping and digging through the dirt, making a whispery noise that sounds like, “escarabajo.” I actually only know the word because a little black one crawled into my backpack one time, and a Spaniard pointed and shouted, “Escarabajo!” I remember she told me not to kill it because “los escarabajos no son malos.” They’re not bad. Fair enough.

It turns out the escarabajo in our kitchen was a bit different than the one in my backpack. “It’s a golden beetle,” Vanessa explained. Escarabajo dorado.

I had never heard of a golden beetle and didn’t care too much until she said, “It’s a symbol of immortality.”

For some reason those words resonated with me. To be fair, this is a girl who lit the end of a small branch and waved it around our apartment to expel bad energy, and who charges her crystals by moonlight (though I know of no better way), and while I love her and admire her earthy spirit, I usually remain unaffected by her beliefs. This is not because I claim to possess superior spiritual ideology, just that I’m kind of lazy when it comes to these things. Afterlife? Can’t be bothered…But this time I felt bad. Was I an accomplice to the murder of a bug that only wanted to offer us immortality?

“It’s suffering,” Vanessa said looking at me seriously, “and you have to kill it. I did my part.”

“I don’t like to kill things!” I protested. She shot me a look of death. I get it. OK.

Both of my roommates returned to their respective rooms. The golden beetle squirmed on the floor, its gem-like shell glistening under the fluorescent kitchen lights. Not knowing what to do, I swept it into a dustpan and tipped it out our seven-story kitchen window, hoping maybe it would catch flight.

“It committed suicide,” I announced loud enough for Vanessa to hear, though she didn’t respond.

Later that night, I Google searched “golden beetle.” I found various articles about the insect, my favorite from a gardener saying she is both frustrated and delighted when she finds these beautiful pests among her plants. Another funny bug-nerd article said something like, “Everyone keeps talking about golden beetles.” Oh yeah. People just won’t shut up about them! Nowhere did I find anything about immortality, though the words that affected me most came from an article about insect collections. It recommends that you not add the golden beetle to your collection as it loses its golden color once it dries out, saying, “these bugs are most beautiful kept alive.” Ouch.