English, anyone?

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

 › entry 2 of 3 › view all entries
My topic for my third blog is the lack of bilingual Argentines. I really thought that most people would be able to speak a little bit of English. However, I have noticed that almost no one speaks any English at all. There are students in my residencia who can speak English, but the vendors and service people usually don't speak any at all. I thought they were taught it at a young age in school and I really thought that for the most part, everyone around the world knew some English. How wrong was I! But that's what this experience is about. You learn to lose the sterotypes because you know they aren't true (or maybe they are in some cases). I can speak basic spanish. The past and future tenses need some reviewing, but I can communicate fairly well with most Argentines. However, I have noticed that many Argentines don't understand what I say to them in Spanish. Even when I think I'm 99% sure that I've said it correctly, they still look at me like they don't understand. Am I really saying something wrong or do they automatically assume I can't speak Spanish properly and dismiss what I say? I've also noticed that it's hard for Argentines to make assumptions or inferences. Vickie ordered a Fanta at a restaurant and pronounced the first 'a' short instead of long, with a Spanish accent. The waiter had no idea what she was talking about. When she pronounced it with a long 'a', he then understood. The same thing happened to me at the Senor Tango show. I asked the waiter for 'leche frio' and he had no idea what I said. He immediately turned to Kirk and Kirk said the exact thing that I said with a little different accent and he understood. I don't understand how they can't figure out what we're saying. I agree we might not pronounce everything right, but I'm sure it must be close! I conclude that it must be something with the Spanish language. The words need to be spoken with the correct accented letter in the correct position in the sentence, or it doesn't make sense to them. Perhaps I need to brush up on my Spanish!
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