True to character, the old man chose to study the easiest language he could find.
Spanish is a kissing cousin to English. Both have roots in Latin. Words called ‘cognates’ have the same meaning in both languages. He was confident his lips, tongue and throat would be able to do the job. He wouldn’t have to pucker like those poor French people do.
Although the school he chose in Barcelona offered classes for beginners, he signed up for a crash course at a local community college, studying alongside people who were teaching in Hispanic neighborhoods.
They started with hellos, numbers up to one hundred, the hours of the day. They explored words for family, weather, food and vacations. Just learning to repeat a phone number was harder than he expected.
Their Spanish 101 book was full of ‘OJO!’ boxes that warned them to ignore what was taught on the page before. It wasn’t the book’s fault. This isn’t mathematics.
| LOST IN TRANSLATION | Spanish speakers avoid placing blame on individuals. ‘The bumper of your car backed into the bumper of my car.’ they might say. They have a special ‘no-fault’ pronoun just for this purpose.