I've contributed to perhaps the best humor compilation I've ever read. Available now on Amazon!

My second chapbook, "The Second Book of Pearl: The Cats" is now available as either a paper chapbook or as a downloadable item. See below for the Pay Pal link or click on its cover just to the right of the newest blog post to download to your Kindle, iPad, or Nook. Just $3.99 for inspired tales of gin, gambling addiction and inter-feline betrayal.

My first chapbook, I Was Raised to be A Lert is in its third printing and is available both via the PayPal link below and on smashwords! Order one? Download one? It's all for you, baby!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I’ve Found Myself Experimenting with Spanish Radio


My father listens to Spanish-speaking radio in the car.

He doesn’t speak Spanish.

He’s been doing this for quite a while now, listening to things he doesn’t understand.  Beginning with his oldest daughter’s early-childhood enjoyment of The Osmonds to his own current addiction to talk radio, he cocks his head and listens, his lips sometimes moving almost imperceptibly.

This may seem confusing, but in my opinion, it is our ability to listen without comprehending that keeps every day fresh.  

Ah!  A new heavily percussion-ed advertisement for a car costing more than I make in a year!  Oooh!  An explanation of my property taxes!

My own understanding of Spanish is as thorough as my father’s and comes from Speedy Gonzalez cartoons (Andale! Andale! Arriba! Arriba!) and the telephone (para Espanol, marco dos).

And, of course, having worked in a kitchen, I now know the word for "fork".  (That's tenedor, for those of you keeping score at home.)

Thus concludes the extent of my Spanish.  This does not, however, mean I won’t listen when it’s spoken.

I’ve been giving it some thought, this fascination with music and languages; and having done so, I can safely conclude that we can blame the accordion. 

As my father before me, I have the dubious distinction of having played, in my formative years, in bands with accordions.  You can imagine, I’m sure, how popular this has made me.  In need of an emergency polka?  Look no further.  Hoping to fit in a quick foxtrot before lunch?  I’m your gal.  Got a hankerin’ for a “rock” medley consisting of “Johnny B Good”, “Maybellene”, “Kaw-Liga” and ending with a ripping version of “Woodchopper’s Ball”?

I can set you up.

It’s not enough, though, is it?  Eastern European hoppin’ is just a gateway music.  I don’t understand a word of Polish, and unless you need a fork in a hurry whilst also needing to “press 2”, by gum, I don’t understand Spanish either, mis amigos.

But that won’t stop me.

Andale. 

40 comments:

Amy said...

I took Spanish years ago in school, but the helpful stuff I have learned from my jobs. "Quieres una bolsa?" Would you like a bag? (from my c-store days) And "Los lentes estan listos" Your glasses are ready (optical). There are a few colorful words I've learned along the way, but today's too nice a day to ruin with those!

Pearl said...

Amy, I have no real talent in Spanish, but I do have a line in German that never fails to amaze. "Ich Habe Keinen Hut!" I shout, once I'm about four beers in. "I don't have a hat!"

Astounding how often that phrase is appropriate.

Vicus Scurra said...

Mi aerodeslizador está lleno de anguilas

Shelly said...

Spanish is sometimes the number one language down here, and since it is the first language of my mom and her parents, as well as my in-laws, it is a language comforting to my soul.

I have a nephew who is a great musical talent, and his personal tastes are very indie/ punk/ metal. However, he plays guitarron in a really good mariachi band, and he transforms into the coolest sombrero-hatted, concho-lined pants wearing teenager imaginable when he's shouting the grito with them.

Pearl said...

VS, is that something about a flying lizard?!

Shell, he and I have something in common then. For while I could not speak Polish/Ukrainian/Czech or what ever the local ethnic group, I was always upheld as an example of the women found in that part of the world. :-) He sounds adorable. And now I have to go look up "grito". :-)

Mitchell is Moving said...

I used to really enjoy listening to Spanish radio, also when I understand very little. Now that I can follow a lot of it, I don't enjoy it as much. I think my brain simply liked the break. I'd start listening to a polka station, but well...

mary i said...

Two words: Rosetta Stone. Ya'lls blog and comments would be so colorful and educating..

fmcgmccllc said...

I have studied French and Spanish and know less than 10 words or so in each. I can ask for beer and the ladies room in Spanish. I lived in China for almost 3 years and can speak about 10 words. Pitiful, but my ears just won't hear the words. I think it is because I am tone deaf.

fishducky said...

I can speak Spanish perfectly. My only problem with that is that I don't understand Spanish.

Pearl said...

Mitchell, sometimes it's best not to know!

mary i, the Czech have a saying "Learn a new language, gain a new soul". I can only imagine how knowing another language would give you new insight into philosophies and jokes...

fmcgmccllc, are you really tone deaf? I do imagine that that would make another language harder to learn, because if you can't truly "hear" it, how would you begin to mimic it?

Pearl said...

fishducky, big smiles over here. :-)

Stephen Hayes said...

My grandparents listened to an all Portuguese station and I loved to listen to it even though I didn't understand a word. It just sounded...comforting.

fishducky said...

I just looked up VS's comment in my online translator. It means, "My hovercraft is full of eels." (A phrase we all should know!!)

Silliyak said...

A friend and roommate from post college years, used to proudly recite his one phrase retained from High school spanish, which translated to. "There sure are a lot of dead birds around here" Many years later while walking on a beach I came across a great number of dead birds and regretted that I had not committed that phrase to memory.

ellen abbott said...

I like to listen to music in foreign languages. It seems more enjoyable sometimes if I'm not distracted by the words.

Pearl said...

silliyak, that reminds me that one of the phrases I remember from high school French is "your breakfast will be here in a few minutes". I should break that one out more often!

Ellen, I agree. :-) I don't need to know what's being said to want to dance...

Pearl said...

Stephen, what a wonderful memory!!

fishducky, oh I am SO adding that to my list of one liners! :-) Fantastic.

Douglas said...

I barely understand English.

vanilla said...

I am among the language impaired. Studied German two years, can't use it; dropped French almost immediately, not explaining that. Eighty percent of the over-the-air TV reception in our winter residence is in Spanish. I can, at least, look at the pretty pictures. ;-)

btw, I declare you get funnier by the day.

TexWisGirl said...

yup, polka music and mexican music is not so far apart. :)

jenny_o said...

An emergency polka? I needed one of those just the other day!!

Round these parts it's mostly French for a second language. I did wonderfully in high school but in the years since then something has changed (my brain, likely) and I find it frustrating, not fascinating.

I envy you your enjoyment of incomprehensible sounds :)

Pearl said...

Douglas, well sometimes it's best not to!

vanilla, aww, go on you!

TexWis, I wholeheartedly agree!

jenny-o, when I was a court reporter I sometimes had to pretend that the words were JUST sounds, just so that I didn't have to understand some of the awful things people say...

Twisted Scottish Bastard said...

I have almost no language skills, and every attempt to stuff them into my already Full-Of-English skull was doomed to failure.

I would imagine that listening to a radio broadcast in an incomprehensible languge would very quickly drive me insane.

Ms Sparrow said...

I volunteer at the lobby desk at a clinic. Recently, a young mother came up to me with a little girl in tow. "Banyos?" she demanded frantically. And I realized I knew that word! I pointed her to the bathroom. I was soooo proud of myself!

sage said...

We can blame a lot of things on the accordion! :) And then there was that FarSide strip, showing the final judgment. The worthy received harps and filed into heaven as those doomed to the fiery underworld were handed accordions.

NotesFromAbroad said...

Having gone for the Total Immersion method by moving to a South American city and not speaking the language when we arrived, I can relate to everything here. Especially your dad, listening to the radio on another language.
It is like white noise .. you don't know what it means, it can't upset you or make you laugh, it just sort of puts you in a zen kind of place .. or at least that is what happens to me :)
besitos. C ... way down here at the bottom of the world.

Indigo Roth said...

Polka polka polka! Ooooh, do you bob while you play? Gotta love that Eurovibe! Be still my beating heart!

joeh said...

Accordian...Ha...LIGHT STUFF! My best friend plays the bag pipes. Whenever I visit he insists I listen.

Spanish Talk radio sounds pretty good compared to an hour and a half of "Comming Home"

Even though Hable Espanol un poco solomente!

Nice post...as usual.

cranky

Gigi said...

Is that why I failed Spanish in high school - because I'm tone deaf? Excuse me, I gotta go write a letter to someone asking them to rescind that "F" because of my disability.

Sparkle Farkle said...

I have me only a leetle minute to drop by and say a BIG thank-you for this morning's tuba talk. Your advice (offering freshly baked cookies before kindly threatening neighbor kid Charlie's tuba) worked well! You're my favourite genius, Pearlie!

Geo. said...

Ne dites pas à la police tout, vous savez!

Rose L said...

When I was about 16, a nice Spanish family lived across the street from us. Two of the boys were about 18 or so and would call out "Bonita Rosa." I would be upset because I thought they were saying Boney Rose! I was very thin and hated it (boy, would love it now!). Eventually someone told me that Bonita meant pretty. I felt less angry after that.

The Elephant's Child said...

I think that listening to a language without understanding it can be a musical experience - enjoying the sounds without being bothered by any of the meaning can be very, very relaxing. Dangerous perhaps, but relaxing.

Pat said...


The Shipping forecast does it for me:)

esbboston said...

I never eXpected to see the three words need, emergency, and polka together in a six word sentence, especiaLLy when the other three words were tiny. Its like eXceeding the critical mass for a nuclear weapon. Bravo! Or maybe it is just 4 in the morning dark and there are 8 things keeping me from faLLing asleep. Again, Bravo! I think I wiLL secretly use that word an eXcess number of times for just the neXt 24 hours just to see how much trouble I can faLL into and out of. Bravo! Today is kinda the last day of my child's two week vacation and we are ever so slightly below our typical giggle quota (GQ), so I am hoping for something inspirationaLLy zany. I had someone close die two days ago and too many things are unknown, sadness and emptiness and several interesting sessions over the last year plus I had spent with the man now gone. Now a Bravo seems hollow.

Linda O'Connell said...

I'm thinking you should play polka music at receptions instead of serve guests.

Eva Gallant said...

That German sentence must be a handy one to know; especially when you have been drinking!

Pat Tillett said...

I took Spanish for 4 years and got better grades in it, than I did in English. Many, many years later, I've retained just enough to make me look stupido!

Diane said...

Bugs Bunny also taught us 'toreodors' 'matadors' and toros. So if we're ever lost in a Spanish bull-fighting ring, we're set.

NellieVaughn said...

I've been watching anime for over a decade because I enjoy it, and in hopes that I can pick up some Japanese. Hasn't worked so far. Reddit did teach me the Japanese word for impossible, which is impossibru. You're welcome.