Jan. 6, 2022:
As we watch expat Message Boards & FB Groups, posts from people seeking a Spanish teacher, keep popping year after year, which leaves me wondering about how much Spanish language do typical Americans & Canadians already know, without realizing it.
People asking for Spanish teachers could consider a few simple “first Spanish lessons” at home, before going to class. … A solid first step is to recognize all the Latin-Spanish based words that you already know from English, as different from all the Teutonic-Germanic based words you know in English.
Once you jump that hurdle, you can recognize that you likely already have a HUGE Spanish vocabulary. When asking questions in Spanish, simply insert the (elegant, multisyllabic) Latin based word that you already know from English … and “Spanglicize” it … saying it in your best ersatz-Spanish accent, along with adding Spanish emphases on the correct syllables…
e.g. Would you say …. underground or subterranean ?
Obviously subterranean – So… Spanglicize subterranean to … subterráneo … Soob-tear-RAH-nee-o
Take … “chocolate” … and Spanglicize to “choe-coe-LAH-tay”
… Note that all Spanish “o” sounds are long-o’s, like in Row Boat. … aka Quintana Row .. no Roo’s.
Take … “brutal” … and Spanglicize to “bru-TAL”
Take … “actor” … and Spanglicize to “ac-TOR”
Take “base” … and Spanglicize to “BAH-se”
Take “regional” … and Spanglicize to “REH-heeo-nal”
Seriously, if you can learn to Spanglicize all the elegant English words that have Latin-Roots … you then know at least 1000 words in Spanish … as COGNATES … as in conocer ..
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Next Lesson: Be really cautious with Spanish words beginning with “A” … and expect to use some mental energy to learn them.
Just like English is a seaweed-tangled-mix of Germanic & Latin languages … Spanish is a mix of Arab & Latin words, and yes … Arab is “Arabe” ~ AHR-ah-beh ~ in Spanish. … Because Spain is a relatively new country (1492), the roots of Spain being Arabic run deep, because much of the Iberian Peninsula was Arab for over 500 years (750 – 1300)… so there are LOTS of Ah-words in Spanish …
Al-cohol … Al-gebra … Aduana (Customs) … Almohada (pillow) … Almuerzo (lunch), … Aceite (oil) and on & on & on …
So, don’t get frustrated when using English-cognates doesn’t work, because all those ‘palabras Arabes’ are just a little sweetness (like azúcar) that force us to grow some new brain cells … in our impending dotage (“ancianidad” – becoming ancient) …
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Next Lesson: After you master the Cognates … then pay a little attention to the FALSE Cognates …
Embarazada sounds like “embarrassed”, yet if you say:
… Yo soy embarazada …
You just announced to everyone: I am PREGNANT!
So, using the approach of trying English cognates in place of Spanish lead to lots of HILARITY !
Check out this biggest-on-the-internet list of False Cognates:
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Final Lesson: Don’t be afraid to babble like a 3 yr old. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes …
Mistakes are just opportunities to laugh at yourself, and to laugh with others !
If you don’t take some risks, you’ll wind up like our 50 or so gringo-friends who have taken over 10 years of Spanish lessons, but still can’t speak Spanish when out in public – as their brains just lock*up in fear.
Read On … MacDuff !
I ordered what I thought was raveolie from reading the menu but it turned out that a kind of liver dish looks a bit of your “Spanglicize”. Nope, nope, nope, not on my life.
LOVE IT !
I try. I make mistakes. My friends laugh with and at me.