Wednesday, July 30, 2008

home stretch!

Really, I´m not feeling angry at all right now. I just finished the first part of my final, and we had an essay section. I´d have been more than happy to write about how beautiful Iguazú was or how nice it was to practice my Spanish, and my Portuguese too on account of how many Brazilians I saw, or how I love reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in Spanish (I´ve read the end and the first five or six chapters, I only have the middle left) in Ateneo while sipping tea, or how nice Palermo was, or how entertaining my host family´s dog is, or how riveting last night´s tango show was.

Ah, tangent time. We went to Café Tortoni to watch a tango show. It´s the most clichéd of tourist attractions, but whatever. In high school, I remember my French II teacher, Mme. Lucy LaSalle, telling us that no matter how plain a girl looks, if she dances well she´ll be the most beautiful girl in the room. The same goes for guys. This thought comforted me until I realized I suck at dancing. In any case, the dancers were neither youthful nor sexy. That woman had to be at least my parents´age. Nonetheless, when she was on stage, she looked like a work of art, and her partner too. And they danced well, of course, and when they danced, suddenly they were indeed sexy. Youthful too. At the beginning of the show, the MC wanted a count of all the countries being represented there. There were Brazilians, Peruvians, Colombians, no Chileans for some reason, Brits, Italians, Americans... I needed to represent the motherland, so I shouted out, "¡La India!" which no one hears much in Argentina. Yet somehow the woman still knew the word "namasté." Maybe she was a Sai Baba devotée. She probably wasn´t from the Haré Krishna cult. "Namasté," I replied, and pressed my palms together to be more authentic. It didn´t occur to me to point out that a "Hello" with an Indian accent is how it really goes on in India these days.

I´ve made fun of Brenda many times for her brain farts (first when she was convinced that 2000 meant 10 p.m. and then when she was convinced that from the 11th floor you needed to take an elevator going up to the 7th floor) and that night I got my comeuppance. I was looking through the list of drinks and ordered a glass of cider, and it was listed as "copa de cidra" just like "copa de vino" and I had learned that "copa" is for alcoholic drinks, otherwise it´s "un vaso." It was also priced the same as the glasses of wine. I enjoyed it, impressed that I couldn´t taste the alcohol, and after I finished it, and said to Julia, "Huh, perhaps my tolerance went up, because I don´t feel so much as a buzz."
"Of course you don´t, cider doesn´t have alcohol!"

At one point, the tango dancers pulled audience members on stage to dance, and one of those audience member was Brenda. I´d have taken a picture if the flash on my camera didn´t suck. We both got pictures posing with the male tango dancer.

In any case, the essay section in our final asked us to write about something that we didn´t like during our stay in Argentina. There are all sorts of positive things for me to write about, but very well, now that the professor asks me for something that pisses me off.

I don´t like when I´m speaking Spanish and I make one small error that gives away that Spanish isn´t my mothertongue, and the Argentine who´s talking to me seems to think¨, "Ah stupid foreigner, probably American" and responds to me in English that really isn´t any better than my Spanish. This is while my family is paying through the roof to send me here and learn to speak the language properly. In our classroom, we´re told to avoid les calques (word for word translation) at all costs, and that´s something I know intuitively. Apparently foreigners learning English are exempt from that. While we´re told not to think in English while speaking Spanish, those Argentines I´ve heard trying to speak English are clearly translating in their minds each word in Spanish. I speak Spanish with care, or try to anyway, but it seems that English doesn´t deserve the same kind of care.

And I realize that Americans butcher their own language, but that´s no reason for foreigners to butcher it too. Isn´t speaking English incorrectly just another thing the rest of the world hates about us? Why emulate that?

And when Argentines respond to me in broken English, there are many times that I detect an air of disdain in it, and given their level of English, they have some chutzpah speaking to me that way. I´m trying (and paying) hard to learn your language. If you don´t want to learn mine properly, don´t treat me with contempt when I try to learn yours. Hell, even if you do speak perfect English (I´ve met only two people who fit this criterion, one is Alejandro and the other was our guide in Iguazú), work with me when I practice Spanish, respond to me in Spanish, don´t hesitate to correct me if I make a mistake, that really doesn´t offend me, certainly not more than responding to me in English.

In any case, even though that particular thing bothers me, I hardly ever actually encounter it, and the month is wrapping up really nicely. Also, I´m to eat steak tonight for my old professor.

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