Hello and good day!
Two women were driving home after an afternoon of shopping together.
One was Polish and the other was Peruvian.
Both were immigrants who didn't yet have a complete grasp of the English language.
The Pole was driving, and the Peruvian was sitting next to her.
"Like I was telling you before, I have some stomach problems," said the Pole.
"Have you gone to the doctor?" asked the Peruvian.
"Not yet. I'm doing my own research."
"What do you think it is?"
"From what I can learn, I think there is a block in my intestiney."
There was silence in the car.
The Peruvian wasn't sure, but something about that word didn't sound right.
She thought and thought and after figuring out the error, she began laughing to herself.
The more she repeated that silly word in her mind, the harder she laughed.
"Why are you laughing?" asked the Pole.
"How long have you been in this country?" asked the Peruvian.
"I've only been here four and even I know it isn't intestiney."
"What do you mean?"
"You said intestiney. It isn't intestiney."
"No. Intestiney is singular. You are supposed to say intestinies, plural."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course, I'm sure. This is common knowledge."
The Peruvian woman laughed the entire ride home, every time she remembered her friend's mistaken word.
Several days later our Peruvian woman went to a friend's house for lunch.
The friend was a Swedish woman who had lived in the United States for 25 years and who spoke perfect English.
"I was with our Polish friend a few days ago," said the Peruvian.
"How is she?" asked the Swede.
"She's fine but she said the funniest thing."
"What was it?"
"She said that her stomach hurt and that she thought the problem was in her intestiney."
They both laughed.
"Can you believe that? I corrected her though," said the Peruvian.
"That's good," said the Swede.
"I told her that intestiney is supposed to be plural. From now on she will say it correctly, intestinies."
"You told her what?"
"Intestinies. I told her to say intestinies from now on."
The Swede set down her cup of coffee and looked at her friend.
The Peruvian woman had a very satisfied and smug look on her face.
She was proud that her English had improved so much over the years.
"It isn't intestinies. It's intestines!"
The Swedish woman was hearty and robust, and she bellowed out a long deep laugh.
On and on the laughter continued.
"Are you sure?" asked the Peruvian.
"Of course, I'm sure. You better call her up and let her know!" said the Swede.
The Peruvian woman was my lovely wife.
During my first week living in Peru, I was extremely bashful about speaking Spanish in public.
The idea that I'd make a fool of myself paralyzed me.
My father had arranged for me to work as an auto mechanic in a local garage.
Nobody there spoke a word of English and I was lost in every conversation for the first month.
One day a senior mechanic decided he wanted me to help him with an offsite project.
He pulled up in his car.
"Sube," he said from the driver's seat.
I understood that sube (pronounced soo-beh) was the command form of subir, to climb.
Was he telling me to climb on top of his car?
It couldn't be.
I later learned that subir can also mean to get in.
He lost his patience with me as I stood there trying to figure how and why he wanted me to climb up on to his car.
"Sube! Sube! Sube! Vamos!"
I finally asked for clarification.
"En cima?" I asked. On top?
"No! A dentro," he said. Inside.
Got it. Lesson learned.
We have a new team member working in our kitchen.
He is from Mexico, but Spanish is his second language.
His first language is Mixteco.
Mixteco is an indigenous language spoken by the Mixtec people.
My friend was born and raised in a Mixtec enclave just outside the city of Oaxaca.
He didn't learn to speak Spanish until he was in his teens when he moved to the city to work as a taxi driver.
English is his third language, which he learned here in the United States in his twenties.
I was in the kitchen yesterday chatting with him, asking him how his first few days have been.
He said that all has gone well.
Then he asked me a question.
"Have we thought of selling our products at farmer's markets?"
We were speaking in Spanish. I'm translating.
"We've thought about it, but we don't have enough staff. Farmer's markets are usually on Saturday mornings and nobody but me and my brother seem to want that shift," I said.
"I might be able to do it sometime," he said.
"Yes, if I can bring my sons with me. They like to sell, and they do a good job. They will work and I will watch them."
Mind you, this was all in Spanish and when he said, "watch them" he said "les watcheo".
He converted the English verb "to watch" into a Spanish verb and then conjugated it into the first person.
This is common for Spanish speaking folks who have lived in the United States for a while.
They add the suffix -ear (pronounced eh-are) to the end of an English verb to create a strange Spanish/English mutant verb.
To watch becomes watchear, which can then be conjugated into watcheo, "I watch".
From my experience it seems to work best with single syllable verbs ending in a consonant.
Grabear for example, to grab.
Two more quickies before I sign off.
My brother-in-law from Peru thought that he had solved Spanish to English translation.
He had worked it out that all he needed to do was drop the "a" or the "o" from the end of a Spanish word to get the corresponding English word.
Sometimes English speakers work this cliche in the opposite direction adding an "o" to the end of an English word to convert from English to Spanish.
As any good brother-in-law would have done, I assured him that this was perfectly valid in most cases.
That was a fib on my part because I figured that hilarity would ensue and indeed it did.
Trusa (pronounced true-sah) is the Spanish word for underwear in Peru.
In Target my brother-in-law approached an employee.
"Where I find the troose?" he asked.
I allowed several repetitions of this question before I intervened.
Finally, I'd like to point out that many of the Spanish speakers who I've become friends with over the years have put an "s" on the end of my name.
"Hola Adams!" they say.
I'm not sure why this is the case, but I get a kick out of it and don't correct them.
Here is the point of these silly stories.
If you are interested in learning a new language, the hardest part is accepting that you will look foolish in public for a long stretch of time.
That is part of the process.
Actually, this is true for most new skills.
It is good to accept this in advance and make peace with it so that you don't become discouraged and quit too soon.
Thank you so much for your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!