Conversations at Casa López – Part 7

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.


    • Right? It’s a skill I think all bilingual people develop. You kind of have to feel out the situation to figure out which language you’re able to use – especially if you want to speak your stronger language, but you have to be mindful of which language the person you’re speaking to would be most comfortable speaking, too. One also has to be careful not to offend, as he said, by assuming someone speaks or doesn’t speak a particular language. I would love to see a person’s brain activity when faced with this situation. It must be doing all kinds of analyzations to figure out what to do/say next and in which language.

  1. I love that your son doesn’t begin with Spanish at his place of work because he doesn’t want to make assumptions about people. That’s a very mature decision. And I imagine it must be kind of nice to be chosen by Spanish-speakers due to his natural belonging to that community. I would love that! (The downfall of being Latinaish as opposed to Latina…)

    Also, the “attire” conversation is great! I can perfectly imagine that playing out!

    Great post!

    • I agree about my son – that’s a pretty wise decision. And totally feel you on the Latina-ish thing. I imagine it’s even more frustrating for Latinos who aren’t obviously Latino. Sometimes I worry about that for my younger son who is fair-skinned. He doesn’t deal with the racism his older brother has encountered, but the flip side of that is that he isn’t as easily embraced into the Latino community since it isn’t immediately obvious from appearances that he belongs.

  2. These are among my favourite regular articles in your blog. I was laughing so hard that the Spanish name wasn’t on the list…! :lol:

    Love the attire too. Now I’m picturing your son wearing a tire… hey, you never know, young people these days…

  3. Oh, I love coke floats!!

    The other day, my two-year old said, “hola gaga”…which to untrained ears might sound like Hola Dada, right? Her dad’s been working a lot and doesn’t get to see her too much, lately. He beamed at her and said, “Hola preciosa!” and continued with what he was doing. I had to laugh to myself. He didn’t see that the cat had just walked under the table. She was saying, “Hola gato.” Add two-year-old speech into the mix, and it can be so confusing!

    My kids also chose different names in Spanish class. My son’s name is Joaquin, so his best friend chose that as his name, and my son chose his little brother’s name, Diego. Very silly!

    Always love these posts, Tracy!!

    • LOL, two year old speak is hard enough to understand, but bilingual two year old speak is a whole different challenge!

      Interesting that your kids also chose different names for Spanish class. I guess now that I think about it, it’s not any fun to use your regular name.

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