Lost in Translation

Jan 13, 2008

Well, my Spanish has been coming along. It's proven to be pretty useful while getting our life set up here. Here's a short list of negotiations I've done in the last few days:

1. We went to the safe store and bought a safe and I negotiated that, although I was a little caught up when she asked us if we wanted a factura or a simple receipt. I had no idea what a factura is. Apparently it's like an invoice or some sort of specified receipt that you use to write the item off on your taxes if you are filing with the Mexican government. In the US you just use your simple receipt to write it off.

2. We needed to get shower heads so I asked the guy at Wal-Mart "Do you have, I'm not sure of the correct word in Spanish, but the 'head' for the shower?" He laughed but pointed us towards the regaderas. I have no idea if what I asked for had a double meaning, but at least we left with a shower head!

4. Hans wanted to start an account with this family that runs a scuba tank filling operation outside of Playa on the way down towards the cenotes. He uses a rebreather, so he needs pure oxygen in one tank and regular air in the other. Between not being that familiar with the vocabulary around tank fills and her telling me all the metric measurements I got a little lost. Then I turn to Hans and start telling him what she said, at which point she says in perfect English, "No, that's not it, I said...."


Fned said...

Hey girl,

Sounds to me like Hans and yourself are pretty much on the right track! It's amazing how much you're getting done in a only a few weeks!

I remember my first weeks in France... total catastrofy! I once held up a check out line for over 10 minutes because I could not understand what the cashier was telling me (in my favor, she wasn't making any effort either)... finally someone in the line spoke a little English and explained to me what was wrong: it turned out that I had to weigh and price my produce mysefl (in Mexico they do that for you at the check out line)... After that it took me a LONG time before I adventured to go shopping again by myself!


P.S. And no, "cabeza de regadera" does not have any trashy double meaning.... it's just funny, that's all. LOL

Mamacita Chilena said...

hahaha, this is funny because I am thinking this post will be just the first of many "lost in translation" posts now that you are living in Mexico.

I once wanted to tell someone I was saving money in a jar (pote) but I accidentally told them I was saving up all my money in my butt (poto).

WOOPS! Hope that makes you feel a little better :)

mexpat said...

Thanks Fned! I'm feeling pretty good about it all so far. I met a guy last night whose wife is going to start tutoring in Spanish and she's Mexican, so I'm going to try to schedule a few nights a week to meet with her to just talk.

Mamacita- OMG! I seriously did laugh out loud at that one! I know I'm going to make those sorts of mistakes! Learning a language has been a bumpy road, it took me a while before I just gave up my pride and spoke to people for better or worse!