Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spanish Lessons

Language is rough sometimes. After Jerica left I caught myself thinking sometimes "gee, I'll have to have someone explain what that person was saying this afternoon" and then I would remember that I'm the closest thing we have to a translator. My two hundred level Spanish from Sophmore year is the best bridge we have between Johanna and I and...all of Bolivia. Including our Hogar. Sometimes I feel pretty proud of myself for how much I can stumble through with my limited vocabulary and poor grammar. Sometimes, however, it's a bit isolating and leaves me exhausted at the end of the day. Regardless, we're all learning a lot from each other.
Not only am I learning Spanish, I'm learning Cochabamban Spanish. Here are a few highlights:
First, in South America they don't use the vosotros form. However, in Cochabamba, they do use the word "vos". Usually you would use it when speaking informally to a group of people, but they'll use it when talking to only one person. They also use the vosotros form of commands when talking to only one person.
Next, They tend to use the past perfect tense (with haber), rather than the regular preterite almost anytime they're talking about the past. For example, instead of saying comio (she ate) they would say ha comido (she has eaten).
Also, as I've mentioned before, they add ito/ita on to everything, even adjectives (which usually means it's small, but here doesn't really mean anything). quesito (little cheese), zappatitos (little shoes), verdito (a little green), solita (a little alone). Everything. Out of this comes the expression mamita (little mama) and papita (little papa). Which can pretty much mean anyone. Usually it's used to refer to children but some of the people in the city have refered to me and some of the sisters as mamita too.
They also refer to people by putting an article in front of their name. Niki becomes La Niki (the Niki), Andre becomes El Andre (the Andre), etc.R is pronounced like rr, rr is pronounced like j.
Finally, a few words are just different altogether. We don't wear chaquetas (jackets), we wear chompas. It's not guapa (pretty), it's linda. We use "harto" instead of "muchO" (many much). Feo (ugly) describes almost anything unpleasant. Those shoes are feo, this smells feo, my homework is feo, etc. Flip Flops are Chinelas because they're vaguely Chinese looking.
A few more highlights from the teenage vocabulary:
Cochina: this words is used here for pig, but more commonly is used as a slang. As in "you didn't pick up your trash? Cochina!" or "Cochina! Close the door I'm trying to change!" Or "you like a boy!? Cochina!"
Por fis: slang for "por favor" or please. As in "I need ten more minutes on the computer to watch videos of Michael Jackson. Por fiiiiiiis"
Ya pues: the literal translation doesn't make any sense, but the expression is used for something like "come on" or "enough already." As in "Ya pues! I already finished my homework!" or "Give me back my copy of Harry Potter, ya pues!"
So there you go, feel informed.

1 comment:

  1. That's why I would just use you as a translator, you already have this all figured out.

    Working on a care package for you. With mail the way it is it might take a month before you actually see it, but I should get it mailed in the next day or two anyway.