I’ve been trying to learn my way around Spanish a bit better since I met N what seems like eons ago (really, it’s only been about 6 years!). As a half Spanish, half Iranian British guy (yes, he’s a mutt), he’s pretty proud of both of his heritages. He doesn’t speak Persian beyond a few words and phrases but he definitely makes up for that with his Spanish–he’s a fluent speaker of the language and I’ve gotta say it’s pretty darn impressive.
So I felt like I should try to learn a bit more Spanish not only to impress my husband but also because there are quite a few members of his family who don’t speak English well or at all and I wanted to be able to communicate with them at the very least on a basic level.
Hence N giving me lessons. I can say loads of things about bunnies (conejitas) and apples (manzanas) and other random stuff. I can tell the time for the most part, I can count, and I know basic phrases that always come in handy like ¿dónde están mis pantalones? (Where are my pants?) and me gusta la cerveza (I like beer). I’m sure you’ll agree that when communicating with a Spanish person, those phrases are a must know!
Anyhow, N’s Auntie (who sadly passed away) was one of those family members who didn’t speak English. But I loved that woman and (I hope) she loved me back. She was probably one of the most eccentric, hilarious old ladies I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting but communication was limited to a few phrases and a bit of universal sign language.
Auntie was also a worrier–constantly calling whenever anything happened anywhere in the world. She would call N and tell him not to sleep with his mobile on the bedside table because it would give him cancer. She’d call whenever she couldn’t get ahold of N’s mum or sister, afraid something had happened. I felt really horrible when, not able to reach N, she’d then phone me and I wouldn’t be able to express that everything was OK and that N would call her back.
One day, N and I were house sitting for his mum and it had been one of those days where Auntie called constantly. N begged off to go get a shower but before he did I asked him to write down how to say the following in Spanish: N is in the shower, he will call you right back.
N wrote down (phonetically, mind you): N está en la ducha jugando con él y yo soy la reina de las bolas de carne.
He went up to have his shower and I examined the phrase. I wasn’t entirely stupid, I knew a few words here and there. For instance? I knew reina meant queen. Suspicious. Even more worrying, I knew carne was meat. Something was seriously wrong with that phrase.
The actual translation? N is in the shower playing with himself and I am the queen of the meatballs.
I’ve been using Rosetta Stone/teaching myself ever since. Never entrust a bilingual husband with teaching you his language… it’s just too much power for him to handle responsibly.