Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Frickin' Mumble- Language Lessons

The language in our house is constantly evolving, a four year old learning new words and phrases everyday and the Canuck trying to improve her Spanish (and occasionally correcting Hubby's English). Max has been having a bit of a language explosion lately, but not always in a positive way. On the plus side, instead of whining and crying and throwing a useless tantrum, he's learned to say "Mommy, I'm frustrated, it's hard being a kid because (insert problem of the moment here)". I'm thrilled that he's learning to communicate his feelings, "Use your words Max!", the mood in the house is much nicer without the foot stomping and whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiines that can come out of a preschooler. On the other hand, he's far more of a mimic than I like, reflecting some of my own bad behaviour and using some of the more adult words that really shouldn't be coming out of his little mouth. It's hard not to laugh, I still get the giggles when I think of his outburst on the beach Sunday "Mommmmmmmy, where's my FRICKIN' goggles????" I guess it's better than using the real curse word, but I still don't think my parents are going to like it much. I have to stop myself from snickering when he expresses his frustration with another of my phrases "Fine! Just forget it! Never mind lady!" (he doesn't call me "mom" when he's mad, I am "lady", apparently losing my position in the family order).

On my end of the language learning curve, I'm fighting my way through the verb "gustar" and feeling like a four year old. It's one of those weird verbs that doesn't fit a regular pattern and at first it wasn't making much sense to me. "Te entiendo" means "I understand you". "Te quiero" means "I love you". But, "te gusto" means "you like me". Heh? "Gustar" literally means "it pleases me", so what I would consider the object of the sentence is actually the subject of the verb and this gets me twisted in knots. "Me gusta pizza", "pizza pleases me". I would think it should be "le gusto pizza" or "I like pizza", but oh no, they've got to mess with me! I still haven't found an easy to understand explanation of the difference between "por" and "para" either, both mean "for" and I just randomly choose one as I really cannot determine when to use which. Usually I'll just mumble it so it sounds like it could be either (mumbling the parts that I am not sure of is a tactic I use too frequently when speaking, too bad I can't mumble when typing). I find I am working more on my Spanish everyday, especially while using Twitter. I follow both English and Spanish tweeters and I tweet in both languages. I am sure that at times my Mexicano tweeple get a good laugh at my mistakes, but hey, I'm trying! I learn a lot by following Spanish tweeters and reading their blogs, it's a great way to flex those language muscles! Twitter is actually quite useful for language learning, I love it when I receive a correction from a follower, it's always done in a friendly way and I learn a lot.

In attempting to learn Spanish (or any language really), the internet is a vast classroom, some teachers better than others just like when we were in high school. The boring dry teachers and the witty and cool ones, finding the right mix of structure and fun can be difficult. Last week I stumbled on a set of very funny Spanish learning videos, I am not exactly learning from them (some of them are quite basic), but I am having a good laugh! I have to share this one with you, but fair warning, it's a bit PG-13 and not for the kiddie set!

So, what's your language learning goal for the day? How's that second language coming along? Que tengan un buen dia! (Have a great day!)


Unknown said...

Hi there, been enjoying your blog for some time now, so I thought i'll drop a line about your spanish question.

The examples you gave about "gusto" seem to indicate you're having a bit of trouble with the accents, "te gusto" does mean "you like me" but "te gustó" means "you liked that". The sound is slightly different, of course, but even if you can't get it right the meaning is understood when put into context.

"Por" and "para" actually have very distinct meanings, "por" means "by", "para" means "for". "Por" might also mean "from" depending on context, but in general it indicates the source of something, while "para" indicates the desination.

Have a nice day!

Sara said...

You are speaking my language! The verb gustar is strange. One more that one occasion I have shucked it in favor of caerse bien/mal because if I'm trying to say that I don't think someone likes me, gustar just throws me for a loop.

I find now, that my Spanish flows a lot more naturally than it ever has, except if I get nervous when I'm meeting a new person. There is nothing like a new voice and a first impression nerves to make me forget how to conjugate my verbs.

Frankly Ronda said...

Hey at least you can understand your kid - my boys can now converse with me having no clue what they are saying!

I admire your focus! Spanish Twitter is impressive.

Gaelyn said...

Me gusto el gracioso video.

My second language is awful. Studied Castilian Spanish three quarters in college. But when I spent six months in Mexico it got better.

Max is very observant of your "bad" habbits. Best to be careful yourself.

I like seeng your Spanish twitter and usually try to figure it out.

Leslie Harris (de Limon) said...

How great that your son is learning both languages. Now you have 2 great teachers in your home! My kids aren't as fluent in English as they should be, but they sure do know a few choice curse words. (They only hear these when I accidentally kick the couch or during any other household accident!)

Amanda said...

Have you been on Study Spanish? It's has an exercise on verbs that are like gustar. (here) There is also por vs. para here.

I love the video. Hilarious. :) I would attempt writing some Spanish now, but since I just wrote half an email in German, my Spanish dial is turned off. Es ist nur Deutsch! My language learning goal is to buy a German-German dictionary so that I can look up unfamiliar words and get the German definition - no translations. I just need to find such a dictionary, which is harder than one might imagine.

PS. I have the rest of my language goals here. :)

Kelly said...

My language learning goal is to LEARN SPANISH! I took Latin all through middle and high school, so I still mix up my endings. I took 3 semisters of Spanish in college and only walked away with some vocabulary words, and even then I could listen/read and comprehend but I couldn't speak it. I'm at a loss as to what my next language move should be - you'd think that living in Texas I'd be awash with Spanish classes!

Anyway, it's nice to hear what other people use for practice - who would of thought of Twitter!

Have a great day!

Cdn Cat said...

I find it hard to practice my somewhat limited Spanglish here in southern Ontario. With having basic cable the only Spanish I might hear is the odd word on Dora the Explorer cartoon. So sad...
I lost my courage to speak it, unless in Mexico. While on my travels in Mexico I tend to force myself to listen & speak the language, but it has been 18 years since living there muy dificil.
I like trying to figure out your tweets in Spanish and I would never know if words were used out of context or not. Now if I can just convince the IT guys here at work to unblock my Twitter.

WriteToSaveMyLife said...

it's so cute he calls you lady when he's mad!! Max sounds like nothing can stop him, he's strong willed. That's so good.

CancunCanuck said...

Alberto- Thanks, I appreciate it. While I admit I can't hear the difference between the accents, it was really the third person plural that was giving me trouble. I wanted to say "they liked it" so said "ellos le gustan", which makes sense to me. Alas, it's "les gusto", which confuses me as it sounds like a singular subject and plural object, ie, one person liked plural things. And for "por" and "para", it's things like "I am going for my son", "Voy por mi hijo" o "voy para mi hijo", I never know which it is. I've got "Este regalo es para ti", but after that I mumble mumble. :)

Sara- I think we are experiencing similar things, yet I am so envious of your formal classes! I have never had a teacher, just learned on the fly and from free websites. Man I can't wait to start some real classes with a teacher who can bang those verbs into my head! Nerves can really mess with language, I find after a couple of beers I am far more fluent. I mean, relaxed. ;-)

American Mommy- OH man, I don't know how I would handle not being able to understand my child, he would make it a secret language and use it against me I am sure, lol! Your kids are far too nice for that of course. Spanish twitter is FUN, I have made several new friends this way. And since twitter is 140 characters or less, it's sometimes easier than trying to write a whole email. :)

Gaelyn- I am trying to be careful of bad habits, thus "frickin'" and not something worse, lol. I think immersion is key to learning a language, I am sure you probably got more out of your time here than in school. (I think you can translate tweets, there is a tool out there somewhere so you can check to see if you were correct in your "figgerin' out"). :)

Leslie- Kids hear curse words in places we don't even realize, we can do our best to monitor their television etc, but it's everywhere and there's not much we can do about it. Though of course, in Mexico it's mostly Spanish, so any English curse words are automatically blamed on me. :)

Amanda- Yes, love that site but find myself zoning out after a while and certain things just don't stick, KWIM? I think it's great that you are working towards three languages, good luck on all those goals!

Kelly- With Latin, you should be able to learn a whole whack'o languages! I think "school learnin'" a language is hard if you don't have immersion too. Good luck with your Spanish efforts!

CdnCat- There are parts of Toronto (and down near Windsor) where there is a large Spanish speaking community, but finding your way into it is probably easier said than done. Do DVD's in Canada have a Spanish option? Perhaps you could play the movie in English with Spanish subtitles and see if that jogs your memory. :) Or, if you are daring, watch the movie in Spanish with English subtitles, harder, but more effective!

Yo Quiero Cancun- He is a very strong willed and independent little boy, we're in for a wild ride with him! And I couldn't be happier. :)

Cdn Cat said...

Canuck I actually do watch my DVD's in Spanish if I'm home alone. Finding Nemo is my favorite, especially if I'm busy doing stuff around the house & within earshot of the TV.
I guess I just need to buckle down and watch more movies with subtitles! Thanks for getting me to think about doing this more often!
Oh and a friend of mine is giving me her Roetta Stone Disks to put on the computer... I let you know how that goes in a few weeks.

Carlos Ponce-Meléndez said...

Para que cojuges el verbo gustar tienes que estar agusto en agosto pero si no te disgusta olvidalo.

ElleCancun said...

Hehe - your a mumbler too!!

I once got "busted" trying to mumble the lyrics to Celia Cruz... Who was listening to me anyways? I felt like an ass! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Lady - I hear that even here in the USA at some of the Mexican food carts I buy lunch from. "Lady you want salsa?"
The video was hysterical.

1st Mate said...

I actually had a young Mexican who wanted to wash my husband's truck and wouldn't take no for an answer address me repeatedly as "woman." I still don't know whether to feel insulted or not.

I also was told that rather than "odio" for "hate," a lot of people use "me choca." As in "Me choca la musica rap." Considering "chocar" normally means "to crash," I thought that was pretty strange.

Kathy said...

Oh, that video makes me homesick. :) I learned spanish "on the streets" of Argentina - I've never had a formal class - just learned by living there. I've been teaching the boys with Sr. Jason's YouTube videos, doing OPOL and Galore Park's So You Really Want to Learn Spanish book, but SYRWTLS is very geared to the classroom and Spain. I'm looking at Destinos (stream shows off internet) and Sol y Viento now.

The way I learned GUSTAR is that I translate it in English as "is pleasing to". Not "like". One experience telling someone ME GUSTAS will clear that verb up really well. :)

Oh, I just watched the video you linked. :) Looks like it is right up the alley for my newly turned 15yo!

D is for Dengue, Depression and Dread

I'm currently sitting in my Cancun apartment, staving off the Covid 19 panic and using all my Jungle Kelly powers to maintain my cal...