Kid Communication

My Spanish is still horrible after five months of living here: I haven’t signed up for classes and the last time I studied Spanish was in high school. I feel pretty shy about using my rudimentary Spanish at restaurants and while shopping, and I can only utter a few words to the people staffing our building’s front desk. However, one place I don’t mind practicing my Spanish is with Fernando’s kids. They don’t mind my grammatical errors and they giggle if I use the wrong word. Oftentimes, I will practice my Spanish while they practice their English, resulting in comically butchered Spanglish.

The following are a few basic phrases I get to practice todo el tiempo because of the kids:

Qué querés?
This is, without a doubt, one of the most frequent things out of my mouth and used with many tones of voice. Some of its uses: kids yelling pa, vení acá! or Vale! in the morning before we adults want to drag our butts out of bed, kids knocking on the bathroom door, the toddler wandering into the kitchen and repeatedly opening the fridge, the preteen rifling through the rows of pirated DVDs at the kiosk. This includes phrases such as Vos querés queso/coca/galletas/desayuno?

Qué pasó?
Hugely relevant to crying kids, screaming kids, fighting kids, pouting kids, bleeding kids. This also works for when the bathroom is mysteriously flooded (the bidet makes a great fountain).

Uno más And otra vez?
Both terms are frequently used for playing. I like to say una más when the little one wants to keep playing something after I no longer want to. I have my limits when it comes to playing games like cops, moto racing, and flying paper aviones. Any amount of más is also used for food items.

No, yo no quiero jugar. Estoy leyendo.
See uno más, above. I can only play toss with a yucky dish towel (oh, the things kids find to play with) so many times, particularly when it’s likely to land in my coffee mug.

Te maté/ me mataste.
I promise the only killing going on in this house is while playing Sniper Cop (hide behind a corner and shoot your opponent with a finger gun), Beyblades (a game involving the launching of spinning metal tops), and video games. You must explicitly state, with much theatricality, that you were killed by someone (or something, in the case of zombie and ghost hunts), or else suffer the consequence of pouty kid face.

Bajá el volumen, por favor.
Kids pretend to have hearing worse than an octogenarian’s.

No entiendo.
The boys are learning that a blank look on my face signals “I have no idea what you are saying…” This phrase precedes either a holler for help from Fernando or a trip to the laptop for Google Translate.

Vamos.
“Get your little butts moving. Now.”

No. Esperá! Pará! Basta!
These are pretty self-explanatory.

While my language is slowly improving, I clearly have a long way to go before I can effectively hold a conversation in Spanish with anyone over the age of 12. Watch out, University of Bs As- Laboratorio de Idiomas… I’m on my way to register and I am armed with loads of ridiculous phrases.  “Querés más queso, enanito gordo?

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8 thoughts on “Kid Communication

  1. Love it! And I can totally relate with my Korean. I used it in the shops because not many foreigners here try to learn it so they appreciate even just one phrase not in English. But in my classes, I say one word in Korean and the kids think it’s the greatest thing ever. Definitely boosts the linguistic confidence! One of the first phrases I learned means “do you wanna die?” because the kids say that to each other all the time joking. Oh, and do you have any pets in your house? I used to speak Spanish when I was learning to my dog because it helped me learn the command verb forms. :P

    • Continuing with the death and dying phrases, I also know how to say “go kill yourself”, but that’s a different story! When I was studying Russian in college I found it far easier to practice if I was a little tipsy- I can’t say I got very good because of it, but I definitely amused my friends.

  2. That sounds alot like me trying to talk to the Mexican side of my family.
    I speak Spanish but the phrase “If you dont use it, you lose it” applies quite heavily to me lol.

  3. Your spanish is better then mine. I dropped the
    class I was taking when my teacher wanted me
    to translate prayers from the sixteen hundreds
    when my textbook was still on El Padrae y La
    Madrae! Father kept prompting me in his Santa-
    Anna voice, “Habla! Habla aihora, tonto!”

  4. Not only the effort must be yours. We must talk a better english for best comunication with you Vale, or at least, to talk some type of spanglish … e.g.: “Vale, quieres more corn tortillas ?

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