Spanish lesson #3103

7 November 2006
3:57 PM

As long as there are people in this world like Señora Julia, I may never master Spanish. Julia is our next-door neighbor and I can’t understand her. The day I do on the first try, I will declare victory and call myself 100% fluent. It’s hard to explain the problem because I know the words she says, but somehow not what she means.

For example, shortly after I arrived in Chile, Julia came to our house. She asked me, “blah blah blah grass blah blah chickens?” Given the benefit of English maybe you can figure that out, but I was stumped. I called Maureen, my senior housemate, to help Julia. After Julia left, I asked Maureen what she wanted. “Oh, she just wanted to take some of our grass to feed her chickens.” Close, but not quite.

The other day, with an extra ten months’ experience under my belt, I got temporarily stumped again. Same setup: Julia comes to our house, but this time she asks, “blah blah can you help me blah blah a cage?” A what? “A cage,” she repeats. I’m confused because I don’t think that we have a cage. Eventually my gears kick into action and I follow her to the street where I see a giant—sure enough—cage sitting on the curb. As requested, I help her carry it to her house. The cage is a new home for her chickens. Of course.

Maybe it’s because she mumbles. Maybe it’s because of her damn chickens. Probably, though, it’s because I need more practice. Keep the questions coming, Julia. I’m going to get it one day.