Sunday, October 17, 2004


English... Mas o Menos...

It's quite fascinating how many people you can encounter on your travels who firmly believe that they can speak English, yet cannot, by any stretch of the imagination. I find that they generally fall into one, or more, of three basic categories. Allow me to extrapolate...
*develops unjustified confidence in their English ability when inebriated
Pablo, a friend of a friend, was very pleased to meet me on Friday night. "I speak English." he declared grandly. "Mas o menos" he added, with a devil-may-care shrug. Conversation ensued. "I...go... no, I.... work." he confided. "Where?" I queried. (Pablo makes expansive gesticulations). I make some random guesses "Your home? A disco? A shop?". "Si, si," he agrees affably. (Mimes taking a photo). "Photo? Camera?"... "Si, si, camera. Shop. Yo... I work. Camera.". Menos, mate, mucho mucho menos.
*uses 'Spanglish' or 'Japlish', etc. liberally... that is, anglicises words in their native language with just a dash of very basic English grammar
Pepe, Tito's bible-bashing cousin, is a prime example of this type. Should he wish to use a Spanish word in conversation, but does not know the English translation, he will simply pronounce the Spanish word with an approximate English accent. Sometimes these words are mutually intelligible. For example, 'abandonar' is abandon. 'Eutanasia' means euthanasia. 'Zombi' is zombie, etc. However, many Spanish words may appear to have parallel English counterparts, but these are very misleading. They are called 'false friends', and Pepe is apparently not aware of them. For example, 'constipado' is to have a cold. 'Embarazada' means pregnant. 'Suburbio' is slum. The only reason I can understand his English in any way is because I now have a fairly strong knowledge of Spanish. Pepe, however, on our last meeting, asked me if I can understand Spanish at all. This places him firmly with this category, and also the next...
*believe, since they are communicating with a foreigner, they must be using English
I once had a Japanese boyfriend (yes, just the once). He could not speak, understand, read, or write a word of English. It was a jolly good chance for me to practice my Japanese, an opportunity I snatched in no uncertain fashion. I sent him lengthy text messages. We went out for dinner, we cooked dinner at my apartment. We went shopping. We went to the park. (All this in 100% Japanese, remember). After a couple weeks I introduced him to my friend, Amy, who speaks excellent Japanese. "Oh, I wish I could speak English" he confided. "Why?" she said, "you don't need it at work, and you live in Japan..." "Well," he sighed, "it's because Vanessa doesn't speak Japanese...".

Hey there, thanks for your comment on my blog. About Salsa well, I personally don't like it, so I do know some clubs here in Lima to which you can go to. It really depends on what sort of music and atmosphere you're looking for. One of the clubs I like going to is called Bauhaus, they usually play lots of New Wave, dark-wave, synth pop... Then of course you've also got some of the gay scene clubs like DownTown Vale Todo which is the one club that has the best music in all Lima in my opinion. As I said, it really depends on your tastes. But still it is a fact that you're not going to find many non-salsa places... people just LOVE it here in Peru.

Glad to know you're coming to Lima. It is VERY different from Chiclayo. I hope you like it, plus people are a lot more used to foreigners here too. So it has plenty of nice places to go out too and to even sit down and have a conversation over coffee. Personally I like it, although we all think it's just a bit too noisy and polluted sometimes (and expect what we call "donkey's belly sky", a reference to the think layer of grey clouds covering Lima's sky, you'll notice when you get here.

Now, about English, INGLISH or ENGURISH. Yeah, I do remember how japanese spoke it and I could never understand their katakana english, hahahaha. However that was never really a problem for me while in Japan because I could just tell them to speak japanese to me (I understood it a lot more than their broken and transfigurated engrish). I always think that japanese people were a lot more modest with their statements about their knowledge of english, whereas many people here in Peru even get to the point of bragging about how much english they know (and how the used it to score with "gringas").

Soooo, you were one of the foreign women who had a japanese boyfriend? I might have seen you in Tokyo!! What I mean is that there are lots of foreign guys getting japense girlfriends (talk about fetishes, personally I was never too interested) but there were not nearly as many female expats with japanese men. I don't know why, really (hmmm I do have a theory, but that I won't discuss in public :) ).. I think I have only seen two or three of such couples aroun the Tokyo area in the two years I spent there.

i know EXACTLY what you mean.

not to say that i am well-travelled by any means, but because i'm in a highschool french class where kids do it all the time.

except the drunk one.. that one's pretty rare.
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