Without getting too Me Talk Pretty One Day: I am learning Spanish.
I’m learning Spanish because this is Miami, and unlike San Francisco — where Latinos and Hipsters politely ignore each other and thus, only the working class speaks Spanish — everyone speaks the language, from the rich folks to the homeless bums on the street to the people high on bath salts who eat their faces. Spanglish is big here too, and as the total non-Latin Californian guy, it’s great to be in a group conversation where it starts off in English, and then someone says something in Spanish and everyone switches languages without skipping a beat. It’s kind of like being made to watch Univision while a five year old is pressing the “English captions” button on the remote on and off.
And my Spanish? Totally not awesome. I took two years of High School Spanish; a lot of “Juan es alto” and “Lupia es baja” before I got all high and mighty and “oh I should know my culture and shit” and took three years of Chinese in college. I know, waste of time, right? What has spoken Chinese ever given me, apart from basic communication skills with my own mother?
Anyway. As a result, I have a bunch of iPhone app flashcards and an early beta account to duolingo.com, one of those Web 2.0 websites that help you learn basic grammar and vocabulary while you inadvertently translate spamblogs in other languages on their behalf. I use it because it has gaming concepts - thanks, Jane McGonigal! - and because the guy who started duolingo.com is also the guy who came up with reCaptcha. Listen, if crowd-sourcing is the price I have to pay to learn how to conjugate verbs, at least I’m not paying $295 for a goddamn Rosetta Stone DVD.
The road to learning a language is… challenging.
Theater Handyman to BF, in Spanish: Has your friend learned any Spanish yet?
BF, to me in English: Rodolfo is asking you if you’ve learned any Spanish since moving here yet.
Ernie: I got this.
Ernie, in loud, broken Spanish: SO LITTLE. VERY VERY SO LITTLE. JA JA JA.
Handyman: *shakes head, walks away*
BF: Did… did you just bow to him as you said that?
Ernie, in broken Spanish: WE ARE TURTLES.
BF: You’re an idiot.
Ernie: NOSOTROS SOMOS TORTUGAS, GODDAMMIT.