No habla

I don’t speak Spanish.  This is not ideal, especially when in a Spanish-speaking country. 

My husband is fluent, and I understand a little Spanish and have learned a few phrases.  I would like to learn more. But sometimes, *sometimes,* it is rather entertaining to remain mostly-ignorant.

For instance, I know that “salud” is what people say as a beverage toast. So, you can imagine my interest when we saw a truck for the “Minsterio de Salud El Salvador” (MINSAL).  A Ministry of Toasts?! Sign me up!

Alas, no. Preston informed me “salud” means “health,” as in “a toast to your health.”

It’s the Department of Health.

How disappointing.


The San Salvador anthropological museum has a new photo exhibit with the word “sueno” in the title. It was an exhibit full of photos of children.  I know “sueno” is the word you use to describe being tired, and I thought it was kind of weird to have a whole photo exhibit of tired children, although they are awfully cute when they sleep. But when I saw the exhibit, I discovered that not one child was photographed sleeping and none of them looked particularly tired.

So confusing.

I asked Preston about it later.  Turns out “sueno” means “dream.” The phrase that can be used to say “I am tired,” would be literally translated “I have dream.”

The photo exhibit title made more sense, but I was still a little foggy on the “I’m tired” phrase in Español. I thought it was “Tango sueno,” but I checked google translate to make sure… and in fact, those two words would mean,  “Argentine dance, dream.”  I checked another one of my key phrases, “Tango hombre,” and discovered it does not mean “I am hungry.” It means “Argentine dance, man.”

What have I been saying?

I think I was looking for “Tengo hambre.” or “Tengo sueno.” Ahem. 

No tengo ningún conocimiento de español.



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2 responses to “No habla

  1. Sara K.

    Thanks for another fun post! It makes me think of our time in Montreal. I know enough French to get by and in reality, all social interactions with Montrealers can be conducted in English, for the most part. But we like the travel style of being blenders, trying to blend in and seem like we are not really from somewhere else. So I would rehearse my order, my request, my pending interaction with Shawn in French. It would be good enough to be intelligible. Then when the server would be in front of me and my nerves would go into overdrive. I would start with one word of French and then completely switch to Spanish. In some cases I was speaking Spanish by the second syllable of the word. The lovely Montrealer with whom I was speaking would suddenly realize I was an imposter and switch to English. Shawn and I laughed about it a lot. My language receptions have 2 channels: English and Spanish and French seems to have no space there!

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