Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Spanish Gringo

Today I watched a hilarious video called Spanish Gringos (1995) lent to me by my dad. It was a hybrid of Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers for estudiantes de Español (Spanish students). The first scene features this crazy guy in a doctor's ropa and a patient waiting on la mesa (the table) in the doctor's office. He explains that Spanish words sound pretty much how they look, then proceeds to poke at the patient with instruments causing him to say the five basic vowel sounds: a (ah) while he puts a tongue depressor in his mouth; e (eh) when he's checking his ears, i (ee) while he hammers his knee; o (oh) when he thumps his chest; u (eww) while he pinches the guy's neck. Loco medico!

Next this crazy guy ran around his house putting sticky notes on everything: el sofa (sofa), el refrigerador (refrigerator), la estuful (stove), la arbusto (bush), you get the idea. My vocabulary swelled, but it was tricky trying to get it all down as he dashed around la casa. The video was in English, and really for the first time since I've embarked on my Guadalupeproject, some things were actually explained. I'm not knocking learning by inference and intuition, as Rosetta instructs, but an explanation here and there really helps. Like the difference in being told, "because I said so," and "because you'll break you're neck if you do that." Now I entiende!

Take the word está versus es. They both mean the word is. I've used them both, but it was because Rosetta said so. I really didn't know what I was talking about. Surprise. The Spanish Gringo explained that esta' is used when talking about a location or a condition. When we are in that location or condition, you use the word estamos, and when I am, you use the word estoy.
Es means is when describing characteristics and descriptions. Son when two or more people are and somos for when we are doing something, soy for when I am. Really, it was a lot funnier on the video.

My youngest daughter just interjected how learning the difference between the two words is BIG WOOP. Furthermore, I should be taking language classes at our local community center rather than spending my time with Rosetta. Actually, she wishes I would spend this time cooking more in mi cocina. Kids are so selfish. Always thinking about food.

The Spanish Gringo, decked out in a chef's outfit, covered all kinds of comida, cutting up tomatoes and apples and bananas and lettuce and meat and making a big, gross pizza with it. I am going to have to replay this jewel of a tape, and I would highly recommend it to beginning Spanish students, if they can find it and still have a VCR.

Rosetta and I spent time together going over the finer nuances of pronouncing the same words with and without accents. She's tuning my ear, so I might possibly pick up the differences. If not, mispronunciation is always good for a laugh. I remember our tour guide in Italy talking about the beautiful "beetches" in Italy. We had fun with that one. Rosetta actually sent me a new headset, free of all charges, because it broke. It's a dream piece, and she and I are communicating well again. Best friends forever.

I met with Our Lady of Guadalupe dance troupe again tonight, and we practiced some of the steps we'll be doing in front of a packed church in December. One of these numbers involves quickly kneeling down with one, then another leg repeatedly. Not all the way, mind you, but enough to produce a searing sensation down the front of your thigh. Had I mentioned that I'm 50? That squatting/kneeling is something I reserve for only special occasions? I am resigned to beef up my cross-training exercises so I have the stamina and ability to complete this mission. Hola YMCA! Body Combat and Zumba, here I come! My brain and body are being challenged to keep growing, keep moving. And why not? Carpé diem!

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