April 23, 2014

Southern European Meditations, Part Five: Parlez-Vous?



MY FAVORITE SPANISH WORDS

Gaudi curved windows at Casa Battlò
(where we paid Jubilados rate)
No Molestar – for “Do not Disturb”

Jubilados – (as in the Latin, jubilate, for “Rejoice”) used for Retired People
(and thank you to Spain for providing discounts at tourist attractions for American retired people when France, Italy and Greece require you to be a Euro member)






A “Nero”Street 


ITALIAN TRANSLATIONS

The guide in Campania kept talking about the “nero” streets. It took me a couple of mental tries before I realized he meant the streets were not very wide. Then he started talking about his “ankle,” and I could make no sense of what he was saying, because neither his ankle nor mine fit the topic. Sensing my confusion, he offered more, “the brother of my mother.”
            
            I wonder what my Italian words sound like to Italians?


CUTEST SURPRISE

The ubiquitous Italian “va bene” for “everything’s fine” becomes “va bo’” in Neapolitan.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

I spent two weeks picking up Spanish phrases and trying to remember the one year of Spanish I took a decade ago. I managed to buy a new blouse and get a pedicure with my limited vocabulary and I was feeling pretty good—until I got to Barcelona. I had no idea they didn’t speak Spanish there. Even the signage is in Catalan and treats Spanish as a second language.
Saint George, Patron Saint of Catalans

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