Lost in Translation: Dialect/Language Problems I’ve Faced in Spain

This is a shorter post, but I wanted to talk about some of the problems I’ve had speaking the language in Spain. While I’ve been studying Spanish for years, speaking it isn’t easy for me. That and I mostly studied American and Latin American Spanish. It was a lot different to be thrown into a place where most people don’t speak English (and those who do, i.e. professors or students working for the school, aren’t allowed to speak English to you). I started really thinking about this after my translation class today because we talked about difficulties in translating pieces with a certain dialect.

Vale:

Everyone says vale here. This wasn’t really a problem for my understanding, it was something that surprised me. It’s basically like saying okay all the time back in the states. I’m not sure if it’s a Spain thing, a southern Spain thing, or just a Sevilla thing. I probably shouldn’t generalize southern Spain as it’s a big area, so I should say the region of Andalusia. All I know is I said vale in reply to a girl going to my home university who is studying in Barcelona this semester and right after I panicked wondering if she would understand.

Cutting off the ends of words:

This one really threw me off at first. People would say gracias as gracia or adios as adio. However, they would only do it sometimes, not all the time. I was so confused. In reality, it’s just something people do in Andalusia. I’ve been trying to do it more often in public in the hope that people will think I’m a native and not an American who speaks awful Spanish.

Talking quickly:

People in Andalusia talk fast. I’m not saying this only as a second language learner because of course it seems fast to me. Even natives say they talk faster here. However, if you ask people to repeat themselves politely, they will normally do so without getting angry and will normally slow down for you too.

Vosotros:

All the teachers I’ve taken Spanish with have told me that I don’t need to worry about vosotros because it’s only used in Spain. Yet, I’ve wanted to study in Spain for years, so I wanted to learn it. Never did. It’s a thing here, people use it all the time and teachers expect you to know it. While it’s not that hard to understand and I don’t use it very often myself, it appears on tests. That’s the hardest part.

Blending words together:

I don’t have any examples of this because I still don’t always catch it. People often blend two words together into one word. It happens often and it really confuses me when it does.

Speaking Spanish in real life is a lot different than speaking Spanish in a classroom. There isn’t a preset list of questions and replies for when you’re talking to someone. However, no matter how many times I embarrass myself or confuse others, being in this situation is improving my Spanish a lot. Practice makes perfect, and I’m so thankful I’m getting the opportunity to do this.

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