Lindsay: Language

From when I am waking up in the morning having breakfast with my host mom, through my day at Tres Manuelas and ending with dinner with my host family, I am fully immersed in a Spanish speaking world. As I am learning more and more Spanish in Ecuador, the more I am able to see the little differences in languages. For example, I now understand what it means to have a more direct language. When I ask for something in English I say: “can you”, “would you”, “should I” before the verb I actually need to use. However, these auxiliary verbs are not very useful in Spanish. It is only necessary to use the actual verb. I have a really hard time just skipping the “would” or “could” before asking for something because I do not want to be rude and usually end up saying “can you” anyways. When I do this, people usually do not know what I am trying to say, so I am really trying to leave it out and not feel like I am offending anyone. I am also pretty certain that German is a more direct language as well. When I was with all of my German friends one weekend I was a little surprised as I was carrying something a little heavy for the group and one of the guys just says “give it to me.” I was thinking, ummmm I was not complaining or anything, or even asking anyone to carry this…rude, but he was actually being nice, so do not worry. Unless I am wrong, and German is not like that at all, then I guess I just have mean friends, but I have noticed it in their English more than one time, so we are going with: English is a language that likes to take a little more time to get to the point.

For Spanish in Ecuador it is also common to use diminutives –adding the “ito” or “ita” to the end of word, meaning that is a tinier version of the word. However, when it is used in Ecuador it does not actually mean it is smaller; they just like to use the diminutive form. This is not a universal form for all Spanish. My roommate travelled to Panama, and she was negotiating a deal with the taxi driver and used “dollarito” for the price, and the taxi driver laughed, and said they did not use “dollaritos” there, just dollars. It is also very common to use diminutives for names. At Tres Manuelas this has become very confusing to me when I am introduced to someone by their real name, then they are never referred to their real name again after the introduction. For example on my first day, the social worker I shadowed is named Lorena, but everyone calls her Laurita, and people would ask me about my time with Laurita, and then I was not even sure who I had spent my day with, or I would tell them actually with Lorena the social worker. This probably would not be a big issue for me in English, but in Spanish, every word I understand is an accomplishment.  I probably have a deer in the headlights look often at Tres Manuelas. Thankfully, those I work with respond to me with patience and will carefully explain what they are saying. I had someone tell me before going to Ecuador, that the more Spanish they learned, the more they realized they did not know. This is so true! I can talk about my backpack and the food I like all day, and now I am beginning to learn vocabulary in the realm of social problems and services too, but there are so many words, and expressions that exist! This is unfortunate when I realize there is only so much I will be able to learn during my three and a half months in Ecuador. The hardest part for me to understand in Spanish is when groups are having conversations and everyone speaks quickly to get their point in and sometimes at the same time. However, I used to not be able to understand any type of conversation, and now I can usually understand the general idea, so I am improving! Even if I may not be fluent by the end of my time in Ecuador, I am constantly learning –even when I watch Netflix, because it automatically uses Spanish subtitles whether I want them or not.


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