Me Llamo Tomás

[Even though my name is in the title of this blog, I realize that this is quickly becoming the show around here. I’ll have to work on making regular appearances, though keeping up with my wife’s torrid blogging pace may be out of the question.]

We’re off to Argentina for a year, and I don’t speak a word of Spanish.

Well, that’s not quite true. I can say: “Una cerveza, por favor.” It’s an admittedly handy phrase, but I don’t think it will be sufficient for the entire trip.  (Though I did manage to get through a week-long trip to Paris simply by asking for a favorite pastry over and over: “Un mille-feuilles, s’il vous plaît.”)

Since the girls don’t speak Spanish either, we all began Spanish lessons today. We got the Pimsleur method CDs out from the library, and now we gather around the stereo for half hour sessions:

Repeat after me:

“Perdón, no hablo español.”

“No entiendo español.”

“Hablo español un poco.”

The girls are delighted to be learning Spanish at the same time as me, since they are convinced, quite rightly, that they will quickly leave me in the dust. Not only do they have the natural advantage of youth, but they currently go to school in a Mandarin immersion program, and so are used to assimilating a foreign language.

Plus, they have a secret weapon. They can roll their “r”s. Naturally. Beautifully. “Arriba” comes out “arrrrrrrrrrrrrrriba!” when they say it.

As for me, I can’t make that sound. Can’t even come close to approximating it.

“It’s easy Daddy. Why can’t you do it?”

“It must be my German heritage. It’s the same reason my hips don’t move when I try to dance.”

“Try! Try!”

Then I try, and what comes out is a guttural, back-of-the-throat, phlegm-clearing kind of noise that sends my daughters into fits of laughter. Nothing could be funnier.

I expect that learning Spanish will provide me with plenty more opportunities to amuse them.

3 Responses to “Me Llamo Tomás”

  1. Bruno

    Hello! First of all, I would like to say that I found your blog in bloggersinargentina. It is really interesting that you are all studying Spanish, especially Argentine Spanish since it is kind of unique. And as regards rolling ‘R’s, I think there’s too much myth about it, then you will see that it is not so ‘rrrrr’. For us it is difficult, when we start studying English, to properly pronounce words such as ‘word’, ‘job’, ‘ordinary’ and the like since they have sounds we dont have in Spanish. Well, I will be coming back to read your blog.
    Kind regards,

  2. Tom


    Thanks for the encouragement. So far I would have to say that my Spanish comprehension is coming along nicely, but I still can’t say a damn thing. Every word I say comes…out…painfully………slowly!

  3. Bruno

    Thanks for replying! I came back to read your blog, but it looks like things are not going so well. It looks like banking, housing, school, food and the like are all bad. I know that in USA everything is perfect, but you take some risks when you go to a nation that’s not so perfect. We are a nation which has gone through a lot of economic & political crisis and several dictatorships along our history. Nonetheless, I think one day we will be better, but that will take a while.

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