I've never been to Spain, but I've studied Spanish, and occasionally translate it. To those people who are thinking, "How can someone translate something they barely speak?" I offer this: study Japanese, Thai, Korean, or any Asian language that greatly differs in grammar, culture, vocabulary, and psychology, and then translate it. Then pick up that Spanish or Portuguese or French article or website you've been struggling to understand, and you'll see a world of relative ease open up to you. Bottom line: it's a refreshing break.
So, because I've had more interaction with written Spanish, my development in that language has been lopsided. But I've been forced to speak it because people from Spain (and a few other countries, perhaps) who I've had to deal with at Art Chicago have either walked up to me and started gunning Spanish at me at rapid speed, or they've simply asked me if I speak it, and when I've said "poquito," they've thrown entire questions at me, as if I'm fluent. Luckily, I've understood what they've said to me, but my responses have been quite lame. But the native-Spanish speakers don't care. They just smile and keep talking as if there's nothing wrong. It's awesome.
Which makes me think: how come the Spanish speakers I've encountered are totally cool about my lack of ability and still speak to me as if we're all in the same linguistic boat, but Japanese people aren't like that, even though that's my best non-English language?
Whatever. I would just like to thank Spain and some other Spanish-speaking countries I can't think of right now for giving their people a good attitude about non-natives speaking their language. I'm looking forward to giving more directions tomorrow en Espanol.
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