Conversations at Casa López – Part 9

casalopez-2

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

Telivision/Boxing Match: …the new champion, de Sinaloa México, Gilberto “El Zurdo” Rámirez!

Tracy: Wow, he’s deaf?

[Confusing the word “sordo” which means deaf, and “zurdo” which means southpaw/left-handed]

Tracy: You see? That bird has the same beak as that one. They’re both Cardinals but that one is a female, the red ones are males.

Carlos: Beak?

Tracy: Beak, pico.

Carlos: But that’s how you pronounce it? Like Vick-Vaporu?

Television/Chavo: Es que la Chilindrina me preguntó ¿con que “v”?
Television/Doña Florinda: Pos, con los ojos.
Television/Chavo: Sí, pero, ¿de vaca o de burro?

Tracy and Carlos: [laughing]

14 year old son: What’s funny?

Tracy: Chavo wanted to know whether you write “bicicleta” with a “v” or a “b” because they sound the same in Spanish and they call them “big b” and “little v”, or you can say “b de burro, o v de vaca” – so he asked Doña Florinda “Con que v?” which sounds like “What do you use to see?” and when Doña Florinda said “ojos”, Chavo said “cow eyes or donkey eyes?”

14 year old son: [blank stare]

Tracy: It kind of gets lost in translation.

Tracy: El Salvador is north of the equator, right?

Carlos: Right.

Tracy: Wait, so which country does the equator pass through?

Carlos: [amused expression] Ecuador.

Tracy: Oh my God…I feel stupid now.

17 year old son: What’re you watching?

Carlos: It’s about Billy the Kid.

17 year old son: [sits down to watch]

Carlos: Didn’t you study him in school?

17 year old son: I was more into Jesse James.

Carlos: Is he a gang bang, too?

Tracy: We’re almost out of bird feed again.

Carlos: Again?!

Tracy: It’s those big, black birds – the Grackles. I think they’re eating it all. I read that they’ve been known to devastate crops, they come down as a huge flock and eat everything.

Carlos: Ohhhh, those are the ones that do that?

Tracy: Do they do that in El Salvador, too?

Carlos: I don’t know.

Tracy: How do you know about them then?

Carlos: There was an episode of Pink Panther…

(Here’s the episode of Pink Panther if anyone wants to watch. I had to look it up after that conversation, and then watching it made it even funnier.)

Ask Latinaish: How Can I Learn Spanish?

Image source: Kasaa

Image source: Kasaa

Over the years I’ve received hundreds of emails from people who have stumbled upon Latinaish.com and, recognizing a kindred spirit, reached out to me. Sometimes they want a recipe for sopa de mondongo, or to know the meaning of a word in Salvadoran slang, and sometimes they just want to say thank you for something they found useful on my blog. Sometimes the words I receive make my day, and sometimes they keep me up at night. Sometimes the person needs mother-in-law advice, or bicultural relationship advice, sometimes the person emailing tells me they know no one else who understands their situation and they hope I can help. I’m always humbled that complete strangers trust me with their very deepest hurts. I always respond from my corazón and give the very best guidance that I can. Sometimes the person will correspond with me for awhile and I see the situation resolved, but most of the time I never find out what ended up happening.

As much as I love receiving these emails, I realize that for each one I receive there are many more people out there who may have the same question, or a similar situation, and could be helped by my reply, so I’m going to start publishing some of my responses as “Ask Latinaish” posts. I will of course always keep the identity of the person asking the question and the details of their situation completely anonymous.

The first question I’ll be answering here is:

How can I learn Spanish?

Answer:

I most often get this question from gringas like myself who have married into the culture and want to raise bilingual children. Either she has had limited experience in the language, a few classes in high school, or has just learned a thing here and there after meeting her native Spanish speaker partner.

The human tendency is to want immediate gratification – We’re surrounded by it: Lose 10 pounds in 1 week! Organize your junk drawer in 5 minutes!

Language learning isn’t one of those things you can magically speak fluently in a short amount of time – Even babies start out with the basics and build their way up. That being said, there are ways to become proficient in a language more quickly, and the very best way is through immersion.

For the benefit of yourself and your child, encourage/beg/make deals with your native speaker partner to speak to you in their native language. It is one of the most valuable gifts they have to give. Encourage your partner to speak Spanish to your child and tell him all the benefits it will bring to your son or daughter. A few of the benefits:

• Your child will be more in touch with his heritage, and better able to visit your partner’s native country to explore his roots.

• He will be able to communicate with his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Family is so important and if he can’t speak Spanish, chances are as he gets older, he will drift away from relatives he can’t easily keep in touch with.

• Being bilingual, particularly English/Spanish bilingual, means that his job opportunities increase as an adult, plus he is likely to make more money than monolingual employees!

• Research has shown that children who are raised bilingual perform better academically in seemingly unrelated subjects like math, and music, plus they’re better at multi-tasking.

• Research has shown that bilinguals have a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s later in life.

Tell your partner all of this, do a quick Google search and find the articles to back it up if he doesn’t believe you. Some people just need to know concrete ways their child will benefit before they jump on the bandwagon.

As for learning Spanish yourself, aside from downloading Duolingo to your phone and playing it each day, (which I recommend!) – immerse yourself in the language as much as possible: the music you listen to, the TV you watch, the books you read, the friends you make… Surround yourself with native speakers as much as possible and SPEAK. Even if you feel awkward, make a million mistakes or people laugh at you. Speaking Spanish, more than anything else, will help your brain “click.” The more you speak, the more comfortable you become and the more vocabulary you learn, even if you have to stop mid-sentence and ask what something is called, or carry a little English/Spanish dictionary with you.

I hope this helps! Suerte! (Good luck!)

Conversations at Casa López – Part 8

casalopez-2

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

Tracy: Police officers in England don’t use firearms and you never hear about mass murders there, do you?

Carlos: What about Jack the Stripper?

Tracy: [picks up a ghost-shaped Halloween cookie] Booooooooo!

Carlos: [picks up a pumpkin-shaped cookie] Booooooo!

Tracy: Um, no.

Tracy: He wants K.D.’s for his birthday.

Carlos: What?

Tracy: K.D.’s, it’s a type of fancy Nike shoe named after the basketball player Kevin Durant.

Carlos: Kevin Duran? Is he Latino?

Carlos: I have sarpullido.

Tracy: What’s that?

Carlos: That’s how you call rash in El Salvador – sarpullido.

Tracy: Oh, that’s so cute. Sapollido because when a person is rashy they get bumpy like a sapo!

“You’re lucky I’m phone-lingual.”

– My 17 year old son [who owns an iPhone] after I asked him to figure out something on my Android

Spanish “Netspeak”

woman texting by Jose Antonio Sánchez

Image source: Jose Antonio Sánchez

Learning a second language in the days before the internet was probably more straightforward. You learned how to speak, understand, read, and write it. Aside from the standard vocabulary, you may also have learned some slang. However in the age of chat, text, and social media you must also learn the “netspeak” or “chat language” of your second language.

After I recently looked up a word in Spanish netspeak which I couldn’t figure out, I decided to pass on some of the basics I’ve learned as a resource to those who might need it. Although I don’t recommend using it excessively yourself as it can form bad habits and encourage incorrect spelling (for example, substituting “k” for “q” in words like “quiero”), it’s good to know it if you need to decipher text messages, tweets, etc.

x = por
pq, xq = porque, por que
q, ke, k = que
kien = quien
cmo = cómo
xf = por favor
kiero = quiero
tqm = te quiero mucho
d = de
s = es
l = el
stas = estás, estas
bn = bien
toy = estoy
grax, gx = gracias
tmbn, tb = también
no c = no sé
qtl, ktl = que tal
qtpsa, ktpsa = que te pasa
= = igual
+ = mas, más
– = menos
aki = aquí
ak = acá
tranki = tranquilo
muak = besos

Want to learn more?

Lenguaje Chat on Wikipedia
20 Words and Phrases to Get Started Texting in Spanish – on Matador Network

Día de Los Muertos – book giveaway!

Dia de los Muertos book

It’s Día de Los Muertos, the sun’s coming round,
as niños prepare in each pueblo and town.
For today we will honor our dearly departed
with celebraciones – it’s time to get started!

So begins the fun, rhyming picture book, DIA DE LOS MUERTOS by Roseanne Greenfield Thong illustrated by Carles Ballesteros. I loved everything about this book, from the way it’s written in Spanglish which helps teach vocabulary related to the holiday, (a glossary is included) – to the colorful illustrations.

I think you guys will love this book too, so I’m excited to be able to offer one for giveaway. See details to enter below!

—GIVEAWAY CLOSED—

Giveaway Details

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a copy of the book DIA DE LOS MUERTOS by Roseanne Greenfield Thong illustrated by Carles Ballesteros.

How to enter: Just leave a comment below telling me what you’re favorite part of Día de los Muertos is! (Please read official rules below before entering.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the person responsible for prize fulfillment for that purpose. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid email address in the email address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 24 hours to respond. If winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between October 28, 2015 through November 2nd, 2015. Entries received after November 2nd, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte / Good luck!

Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 Photo Challenge: Day #8

I’ll be participating in the “15 Days of Hispanic Heritage” photo challenge over on Instagram hosted by ¿Qué Means What? and The Nueva Latina. If you want to participate, just use the hashtag #HHM15Foto and take a photo for the given theme on each day! Here’s my photo and caption from Instagram for Day #8: Pasión / Passion

hhm-day-8-latinaish

This unassuming, beat up, little #Spanish dictionary has been with me a long time. I haven’t used it in years thanks to the internet, but it came in handy as I explored my new language beyond the classroom, translated lyrics to songs by La Mafia, wrote love letters en #español, and attempted to understand my new husband. My first day in Spanish class, something was ignited in me, a passion for the language that I couldn’t explain. Unlike so many passing interests in my life, my love for Spanish and language in general, have only grown, and led to travel, friends, work opportunities, new ways of thinking, marriage, and so much more. Is it any wonder I’ve also become a passionate advocate of #bilingual education, and have attempted to raise my children bilingual? I believe it is one of the very greatest gifts we can give them.

#HispanicHeritageMonth

Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco (Giveaway!)

Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco

Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco by debut novelist Judith Robbins Rose will be released September 8, 2015, but I had the opportunity to read an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) for review. It’s not often that I read Middle Grade fiction, but despite the 10 year old target audience, I couldn’t put the book down.

The story is in the voice of Jacinta Juarez, a young Mexican-American girl who reminded me a little of an older Junie B. Jones due to her spirited personality which results in quite a few humorous moments, despite some of the very serious themes this book takes on.

Being bilingual and bicultural has a million advantages, but it has its challenges too – Jacinta must learn to straddle both worlds as she deals with the stress caused by her family’s socio-economic situation and the legal status of her parents, while figuring out if it’s possible to balance obligation to one’s familia with the very American ideal of pursuing one’s own happiness.

When local news reporter, Kathryn Dawson Dahl, (a white woman who Jacinta simply refers to as “Miss”), sponsors Jacinta at the Youth Center, she is introduced to a new world of exciting opportunities and hurtful, confusing experiences. While this could be exactly where this book goes off the rails and becomes problematic as a “white savior” narrative, I think the author succeeded at very honestly portraying how white women often see themselves as “rescuers” in this type of situation and the mess that results.

Details:

Title: Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco
Author: Judith Robbins Rose
ISBN: 9780763672355
Ages: 10+ (Middle Grade Fiction)

A quote from School Library Journal review: “…It’s as pleasurable to watch these characters take one another by surprise as it is horribly anxiety-producing to see them hurt, stumble, insult, and misunderstand nearly every situation requiring contextual awareness. [The author] doesn’t sugarcoat the hypocrisies and tough realities of the relationship, and of the very real reasons that they mistrust one another. Nearly everyone in the book makes some pretty serious and unforgivable mistakes, but as flawed humans they are allowed to wear their flaws, to make mature decisions and stupid childish ones. Rather than writing an ‘issue book,’ [the author] presents characters in crisis, whose stories are personal, rather than broadly representative, and the book is better for it. Ultimately, this is a story about code switching, and about the different skill sets and assumptions required for complex cross-cultural and cross-class situations…” – Katya Schapiro, Brooklyn Public Library

Want to win a copy of the book? See below!

—Giveaway Closed!—

Giveaway Details

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a copy of the book LOOK BOTH WAYS IN THE BARRIO BLANCO by Judith Robbins Rose.

How to enter: Just leave a comment below! (Please read official rules below before entering.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the person responsible for prize fulfillment for that purpose. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid email address in the email address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 24 hours to respond. If winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between August 27, 2015 through September 2nd, 2015. Entries received after September 2nd, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte / Good luck!