Monday, January 25, 2010

La Idioma

The language of Chile. Oh, where to start. Before I came here, everyone warned me that Chileans spoke "bad" Spanish. But of course, I thought, how could they? They're Spanish. I'm the one that is going to speak bad Spanish. It wasn't until I got here and spent the first three months in a constant state of confusion and frustration that I finally understood. They have their own rules, their own words, their own phrases, their own accent, their own conjugations, their own rapid-fire delivery... For example, Como estas? is now "como estai" (es-tie). Hablado is now hablao. Esta para alla is now "etapaya". They have no vosotros form. They pernounce b's and v's the same. They add "poo" or "pway" sounds to the end of words to add emphasis. Half the words I learned in school they don't even know or just don't use. For example, girlfriend isn't novia. It's polola. maiz=choclo. fiesta=carrete. And then they just have their own words. piola (alright, so so), bakan (cool), filete (super cool), flaite (ghetto, tough, unusual, loud), etc. All of their names for clothes are different. They say "mas o menos", "asi que" "es que" "entonces" a lot. AND HOW COULD I FORGET, "cachai" which literally means "do you catch it" or "get it? you know?". That makes itself into a conversation a couple hundred times.

I'm starting to be able to tell the difference from someone thats from Chile and someone that's from another Spanish country. Argentinians have really funny accents because all the double l's the pronounce like j's. Ella=Eyja, and all their Ch's are like S's. Spanish people have really throaty accents and talk with lisps. Mexicans just have a different accent. One day I was in the car with my exchange friend and her host parents and their was a guy on the radio from Spain talking and I understood every single word. And then her host mom told us that it was really hard for her to understand because of his accent.

At first it was incredibly hard for me. I felt like I wasn't learning anything and that I wasn't ever going to. Nobody was helping me and I wasn't understanding anything. December felt like a complete standstill and I thought that with my mom coming, it was only going to get worse. But now, I feel so much better. I can understand almost everything. I can carry a conversation. I can find my way. I think having to be the mom and do all the talking and arrangements for the past month has actually helped me a lot. I'm a little slower, but not at all as much as I thought I would be. I almost started typing this thing in half Spanish, too. So, I have hope. I don't feel so depressed that I'm going to be the one that never learns it and goes back to the US with nothing. I think in a couple more months, I'll be fluent (more or less) and I'm pretty excited about that.

1 comment:

  1. Quiero felicitarte por el graaan trabajo que has dedicado al escribir este blog, es realmente entretenido leerte. Mi ingles no es tan bueno, sobre todo que hace mucho tiempo que no lo practico, pero me imagino que despues de todos los meses que has vivido en Chile, no tendras problemas en entender lo que escribo.
    Soy chilena y vivo en Belgica desde hace un año, me da mucha nostalgia cuando cuentas cosas de mi hermoso pais y tus fotos estan super buenas, bacanes, como decimos nosotros, jajaja
    Me alegra que estes disfrutando tu estadia en Chile, muchas gracias por compartir tu experiencia, de verdad super!