Friday, 21 January 2011

Anglo-Celtic-Spanish - But We Manage

Linguistic confusion, differences, and the crossing of wires is a common occurrence when you're Scottish and you're in a relationship with an Anglo-Spanish senorita.  Natural, I suppose, when you’re covering three very different cultures in one relationship.  However, as many of us know, the crossing of wires can often result in some wee 'jake baw' running off with your car, or your house burning down. But occasionally, a moment comes in a relationship that’s so perfect you have to thank the good lord for granting your existence at that precise moment to be witness to it.  Such a moment came in my relationship when my girlfriend phoned me recently and asked “Daniel, what’s a jobby?”
Never has the crossing of cultural wires been more perfect.   She had never heard of a jobby and was none the wiser when I explained it involved 'dropping the kids off at the pool'.   Moments such as these normally present an opportunity to expose her more gullible side - this Christmas I managed to convince her that in Scotland we like to deep fry our advent calendars.
As it turned out I was never likely to pull the wool over her eyes and convince her a jobby was anything other than, a jobby.  Her enquiry was made after watching an episode of 'Come Dine With Me' where one particular diner commented on the appearance, consistency, smell -and possibly taste - of their food as being that of a 'jobby'.  Unsurprising then that it didn't take her long to translate 'jobby' and arrive at its equivalent in English.

But without the assistance of a horrible starter my significant other would never have known what a jobby was. This got me thinking, I'd used that particular word many times in our conversations and she never once enquired about its meaning.

My mum always said she couldn't comprehend my girlfriend's ability to tolerate me.  It seems clear now.  She doesn't understand half of what I'm saying - either that or the more likely explanation that she's just not listening.

What's worse is I remember sharing with her a particularly humorous anecdote involving jobbies, and she seemed to laugh in all the right places, either through ignorance or pity.  It would be wrong of me to continue blogging without sharing my jobby anecdote, so here it is...
When I was in school I - like most people in Dingwall - had a part time job working in a call centre selling train tickets.  Customers would phone us looking to purchase train journeys and while we were on the phone we had to try and squeeze - for want of a better word - the word 'jobby' 'jobby jabber' or simply 'jabber' into the call.
a typical call would go like this..
"Good evening you're through to jabber how can I help you?".... "Can I confirm you are looking to travel on the 4th of jabber between Birmingham and Newcastle?".... "How many jobbies are jabbing?"... "Are you the named credit or debit card jabber?" ... "Please hold while I jab those jobbies for you"... "Are there any other jobbies you'd like me to jab for you this evening?"... "Thank you for jabbing with Virgin Trains".
The record was 36 jabs in one call.  You would be surprised at how few customers picked up on the jobby references, and those that did, and weren't best pleased, we would happily transfer to Customer Relations, which also doubled up as the Dingwall Chinese.

Linguistic misconceptions occur relatively frequently between my girlfriend and I - she couldn't decide if my uncle was Irish or the unfortunate victim of a recent stroke.  But at least we're speaking - close to - the same language.  It is a different story altogether when you are meeting relatives who speak a completely different language and have no comprehension of English.  So, in an attempt to break down - or marginally dent - these cultural barriers, I set myself the challenge of learning the native language of my other half.
Now my Spanish is at a very, very basic level.  This however doesn't stop my girlfriend abandoning me in public places, or leaving me high and dry in conversations with family members.

I'm not Stephen Hawking, I don't have a languages programme I can just plug into.  When you don't speak another language, or don't speak it well, you tend to just say yes to everything in the misguided belief that by doing so the person approaching you will just magically disappear.  This never works.  I was almost arrested for agreeing to buy cocaine off a guy standing on a street corner - again my girlfriends fault for leaving me unattended.

For Scottish people, Spanish pronunciation is surprisingly easy to pick up.  Many words in Spanish sound similar to Scottish pronunciations, there are lots of rolling r's and 'ch' sounds - like the 'ch' in 'loch'.  When I first started learning Spanish my girlfriend was particularly proud of my ability to roll my r's.  She would ask me to say my favourite r' rolling Spanish word - 'perrito caliente' - over and over again in front of family members to prove to them just how perfect my pronunciation was.  They must have thought I was mentally unstable walking the streets of Madrid constantly shouting....

If it's language that divides us then it must be love that brings us together - and if you love your languages then your sorted.  My mother always told me that my perfect woman would be one that doesn't speak English, but as it turns out, in Dingwall we were never speaking English in the first place!

Para mi novia guapisima.....te quiero mucho...!!! 

No comments:

Post a Comment