The Year of The Spanish Fever
Let’s say you’ve scored a modicum of vocabulary and some fundamental points of grammar. Congratulations.
Now for your trial by fire.
Conversation requires you to intercept sounds in mid-flight. And they spin and tumble as they come at you. Spanish vowels are strung together in ways we English speakers have a hard time recognizing. You don’t hear words at first, you hear hums and murmurs.
Everyone of the old American’s classmates agreed that imposing their beginner’s Spanish on the good people of Barcelona was criminal. All of them had made nuisances of themselves a time or two. Shop keepers who knew they were studying Spanish would let them practice but when stores became busy they fell back on English or they simply pointed.
Their teachers coached them to trust the subconscious. If they would stop chasing phrases, they were promised, the words will present themselves. It’s a beautiful theory.
Several times their mock classroom debates — about marijuana, Ebola, clean energy, etc. — turned into actual exchanges. They would stop and realize something had happened
| LOST IN TRANSLATION | To say something “from the lips outwards“ means to misspeak.