Just how difficult is it to learn Spanish? After several years of struggling with it, sweating over the conjugation of yet another verb and soaking the pages of my textbooks with tears, I am happy to announce that I managed to estimate it properly and arrive at a precise number.
Very. It is very difficult.
During my stay in Madrid, however, I learned a lot – mainly how to make English words sound Spanish and how to communicate with gestures. More importantly, however, I learned some phrases and general curiosities about the Spanish language that no textbook could have ever taught me.
- An Anglophone might find his soul mate. With Spaniards, however, it’s all about oranges. It is true. A Spanish person would refer to the love of his or her life as “mi media naranja” (literally: my half orange). I should admit that this is pretty charming. Just imagine a world in which everyone finds their half insert-your-favorite-fruit-here!
- A simple “Good night” is never enough. Most Spanish people, who are usually extremely affectionate and caring, will also add “que duermas con los angelitos” (literally: may you sleep with the little angels).
- It is perfectly normal to call your friends “tío” and “tía”. Guys and gals, dudes, bros… uncles and aunts.
- Repetition is a sign of real, wholehearted approval. My Spanish teacher told us a story about her foreign huband who learned this the hard way. He asked his mother-in-law if he could change the TV channel, to which the response was the heavy, one-worded “Cambia”. He did. And was extremely sorry for doing so, as an hour later the revengeful lady refused to serve him dinner.
- Spanish people curse. A lot. Postpone as much as possible learning their curses, for when you do, you would hear them everywhere. Seriously, for an undefined period of time these will be the only words you distinguish when listening to random people’s conversations.
Enough with the useful tips for now, as it is time for bed. Hemingway would have considered this a blatant lie, as he once said: “No one goes to bed in Madrid until they have killed the night.” Oh well… Que duermas con los angelitos, Nadya!
Nadezhda from Madrid