I think I'll be talking about Spanish more often here because I'm sort of in that world, since I teach Spanish speaking people and work with them as well. Today I had to interact with a lot of Spanish speakers, and I just could not get over their openness to me speaking (butchering) their language. I studied Spanish but never got the chance to speak it, so my knowledge of it is passive--I can understand it okay. A while ago, I spoke Portuguese enough to be able to survive a couple trips to Brazil, but my Portuguese at this point is quite lame. So I don't have that to fall back on when I speak Spanish.
Well today, people walked up to the table where I was and started speaking in rapid, natural Spanish. They had no idea that I didn't really speak it, they just assumed I did--and not because of how I look--I don't look Latin American. So I pulled out the miniscule Spanish I knew out of the far corners of my mind and tried to speak with them, and they were just so cool about it.
But most of the time I was thinking, "I shouldn't try to go all the way with it--I should just throw out some words and mix it with English, because I'm American, not Latin American." But then I realized that I had adapted such an attitude from my Japanese speaking experience (which I've talked about before) because no matter how comfortable I am with Japanese, they won't assume I'm in their world at all. But the Spanish speakers were very welcoming, which not only made me feel good, but made me try harder to understand what was going on.
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