Europe on 5 verbs a day

My Spanish is terrible. Horrendous. No wait. If there were a word meaning “worse than horrendous,” that would be the word to describe my Spanish.

What can I say, I took French in school instead. And yet, I somehow seem to have the best grasp of Spanish of my entire family, and so I am expected to do all the ordering, all the direction-asking, all the hi’s and bye’s and thank-you’s.

With  a limited range of verbs at my disposal, and a shaky command of prepositions, over the past 10 days in Spain I have gone forth with my familial duties and uttered the following actual phrases.

I speak Spanish a small.

Please, where is one bathroom for the girl?

I go this here? Or this other here? What direction?

Is possible pasta with butter only for the girl?

Is possible sauce of tomato? No salsa. Ketchup sauce of tomato.

Please, I will eat bread with toasted please. 

My man is a coffee with milk, please. Thank you sir.

Thank you for the everything. You good lady.

Password for wifi? Numbers? Numbers secret? For wifi? Speak to me.

No one kilo fish. No more kilo. Small kilo. 5 and one hundred. 5 hundred.

Sac please. You have sac? For sandwich for the house. With me. No here. For the house.

American no good with car. I automatic. Spain people, good with car.

The baby boy here, beautiful girl. So beautiful!

I have one big wine for only me, please now.

Fortunately, as bad as I am, I will never be worse than my mother who walked around  Bilbao asking, “Habla Espanol?” then wondering why everyone looked at her funny.


43 thoughts on “Europe on 5 verbs a day”

  1. Okay, “Password for wifi? Numbers? Numbers secret? For wifi? Speak to me.” makes me laugh because it sounds like Beavis/Cornholio. Come on, think it in that voice and you know you’ll laugh. LOL

    1. Ha, Bill! Our hotel in Salamanca was off a street that looked an awful lot like Corhnolio Street, so that’s what we called it.

  2. Who needs Google Translate? I believe you’ve created a new way for me to order wine from now on. One big wine for only me, please now. Gets right to the point and tells people I mean business. I like much, good lady.

  3. It’s good of your mother to make sure that people actually speak their native language. I laughed out loud at that one. Thanks!

  4. I am slowly learning Spanish in my restaurant of employ (what can I say- I took German). Suffice it to say that for months, I thought “llaves” was a dirty word. “Llaves” means keys…

  5. I think all you really need to know is: “Perdóname. Soy una actriz de Hollywood de vacaciones en secreto y desfortunadamente parece que he perdido mi asistente hispanohablante.”

    1. I’m tempted to read that as “You’re a Hollywood actress on vacation, secreting your misfortune…”
      but I might try it anyway. (heh)

  6. In Rio a long, long time ago, I persisted in ordering everything in my faux french (or at least with a bad french accent). Husband reminded me, almost daily, that the nice people gazing at me blankly spoke portuguese. I just didn’t want them to think I was american, is all.
    But as for your spanish? really all that matters is that last phrase: big wine please. muy muy grande. And then everything will be okay….

  7. My spanish is really good but my French isn’t. One time in Brussels I was ordering mussels for our group of three and I thought, this is easy I can do it in French. We just wanted one portion to share but I forgot to say the magic word “partager” and I ordered 3 portions instead. I had to call more friends to help us finish the mountain of mussels…

    1. I remember in the Zurich airport on a layover after a high school exchange trip to Paris, ordering something that looked like waffles. Turned out to be organ meats. Kinda different.

  8. LOL at work -actual tears running down my face. Too funny, must delurk.

  9. Don’t sweat it, I once mixed up the french sous-traitant and souteneur. A sous-traitant is a subcontractor and a souteneur is a pimp…

    1. Fabulous!

      We spend an evening with a French couple last week and my mother tried to tell them that her husband was “naturaliste.” I corrected “professor d’ecologie” after they burst out laughing.

      She told them he was a nudist.

  10. You are a hoot and you made me chuckle today.. Considering that it is Monday, it was a very necessary thing, so….thanks!

    PS I heart your Spanish.

  11. This is what would have happened if David Sedaris ended up in Spain instead of France. Me speak pretty one day, indeed.

  12. Hilarious.

    Last time we were in Spain, I had to make a “baa baa” sound in a tapas place because we didn’t know how to say “hold the lamb.”

  13. Ah, this is so, so great.
    My sister, husband and I went to Italy and let my sister, fluent in French, handle all the talking. Once we tried to tell the nice lady at the pastry shop that we had eaten 3 pastries, for which we would like to pay. She was so nice and only gave a tiny little giggle and charged us the right price, but that giggle bugged my sister, the language expert.

    I still laugh when I think about getting back to the hotel and consulting her Italian dictionary. “OH NO!” she said, hysterical laughing, “I just told that woman that we already ate three pastry shops.” The funniest part to me was the “already,” like, “WE ALREADY ATE 3 PASTRY SHOPS, MISS, AND YOURS IS NEXT.”

  14. Ha! Love this! I made the same mistake about “speaking Spanish a small” but I misspoke for MONTHS before my fluent husband corrected me.
    Como se dice “asshole”??

  15. HAHA! Priceless! Reminds me of a Thai woman in Thailand, standing outside her shop yelling, “Foot massage HELLO! Foot massage HELLO!”

  16. Snort worthy, only because I couldn’t lol at work. Thank you for saving me during a loooooong meeting!

  17. I’d laugh even harder if I weren’t there to bear witness. Now, if Thalia will only stop greeting me with, “Do you speak Spanish?”

  18. I am a classically trained singer – so I sang in several languages, learning the correct pronunciation and diction.

    I didn’t know a damn thing I was saying, though. But, I went to France, and because I took French in high school and studied French music in college, suddenly I was the ‘the go-to’ person for asking questions in French. I practiced how to say, “Is this ticket good for the Musee D’Orsay?” I walked up to a woman who was working at the Louvre, and asked my question. Apparently my accent was good enough that she answered me in long, French sentences. She lost me at about word #2.

    Vin, si’l vous plait. Rapidement.

    I can also order beer in Spanish. I’m talented like that.

    1. I had a woman in a market talk to me in Spanish and when I told her I didn’t understand Spanish, I spoke English..she got so excited, grabbed my shoulders, then continued to speak to me in Spanish for another minute!

  19. My man is a coffee with milk, is my favorite. You know way more Spanish than I do though. I’m pretty sure I could ask for the four yellow bathroom. Sesame Street rocks. 😉

  20. so funny. you good lady.
    I was in mexico with my mom once and kept asking where the bathroom was for her. And they kept walking me to a 45 gallon garbage can. Turns out bano and basura are not the same thing.

  21. On my first day in Mexico, my hosts asked me if I wanted to come with them to a boda. I thought they meant bodega. So instead of going off to the store in jeans and a t-shirt, I arrived at a lovely formal wedding in jeans and a t-shirt. Representing for the United States! Woo hoo!

  22. Me encanta esto. What a great story…although, i’m really just jealous you’re in Spain. Amazing. Love all the writing–it’s great. I’m just discovering the millions of mommy blogs and realizing that there are good and not as good writers. You are good.

  23. You did bueno. Bien. Con mucho gusto. Er.
    After six years of Spanish, I still can’t conjugate a verb properly.

  24. Lol, those sound like the kind of questions I would be asking except it would be my husband eating the buttered pasta and the ketchup sauce and not the kids.

    I took French for a zillion years, but I would be awful if I tried to get anything done in France.

  25. My mother never fails to amuse me as well. The important thing is both of you had a great time. I would definitely be amused as well if was one of the natives there listening to you. But I would admire your effort and eagerness to communicate.

  26. Reading those one after the other was so fun! And your last one the most important. 😉

    Your Mom cracks me up!!

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