Old World Spanish at a Latino Party

Last Saturday, the boys from across the street invited us to a birthday party for a friend of theirs. The party was being held at their place, and the kids have been good company for Neil and Kelly. I went over with them since it was a pool party, and while Kelly loves being in a pool, she’s not strong enough to swim on her own. As it turned out, it was a party for the parents as well as the children. Iris had catered a feast of roasted goat, refried beans and rice, and it was mighty good.

In the meantime, I’d taken my first lesson with Auralog Spanish, and while it didn’t go any further than “This is a boy!” and “Hello! How are you?,” the fact that most of the people at the party were fluently bilingual in Spanish and English gave me a chance to listen and learn. In particular, I was curious about a phrase I’d learned via Auralog: “Que tal?”, kind of an all-purpose “How do you do?” than can be added on to, as in “Que tal el nino?” However, neither Peter nor I had ever heard a Spanish speaker say this supposedly common phrase.

So I just asked one of the parents about it. He looked puzzled for a moment, until I offered that it might be a European Spanish phrase. Then he recognized it. “My grandmother, who was half Spanish, half Cherokee, used to say that,” he told me. “But we just say ‘Como esta?’ or ‘Que pasa?'” Yeah, that I’ve heard. I mentioned the “Que tal?” faux pas later, and it got a good laugh. People know what it means, but it’s very old world, like some stuffy Brit saying “And HOW do you DO, madam?”

An easy to remember response to being introduced to someone that Auralog offered was “encantato,” as in “ah, so enchanted (to meet you.)” The Auralog speaker pronounced it like Antonio Banderas would, with a bit of drama and the hint of lisp. But they sure don’t talk like that in America either. People just looked really confused when I said it.

Well, all I have for my Spanish is Auralog, and Peter’s pointed out that even European Spanish will get me miles ahead of having no Spanish at all. I’ve been lazy about my lessons, but I really do need to learn Spanish.

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