Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Learning Conversation with Mexicans

One of the things that I have noticed since being back in Canada is our speech.  Aside from the obvious thing that we are speaking English here, and I would be speaking Spanish while in Mexico, there is a huge difference is the actual content.  And I realize how natural my Canadian self comes out, and that I have to constantly work on my latin side.  How so?

Well In Canada, those of Western roots, speak directly and come to the point instantly without much preamble.  Sample:

Me: Hey bro, can you com by and take a look at my car? Something is wrong, it's making a strange noise.
Brother: Sure I can come after work. You gonna feed me?
Me: Sure

Takes all of seconds to ask a favor.  Short, sweet, and to the point.

Not so with my Mexican counterparts... they take a while to get there.  Sample:

Friend: Hola.
Me: Hola Lalo
Friend: Como estas? How are you?
Me: Bien y tu? Fine and you.
Friend: Todo bien. Que has hecho? All good, what you been up to?
Me: Fui al gym... ... ....  Went to the gym... ....  Y tu? Como va todo? And you, all good?
Friend: Pues fíjate? well look... ...
Me:
Friend:
Me:
Friend:
And much later after all the conversation about how life is, one gets around to the reason for the call. One NEVER comes right out and just asks for a favor.

Because life, to a person from Latin America, is about relationships.  This is a lesson I have to learn and re-learn.  It is hard to remove that directness from one's character.  And since this is a trait that is quite extreme in GDL (it was much less so in Chihuahua) I find myself tripping up regularly.

Part of this characteristic is creating a gentleness in how you respond in a conversation.   If someone invites you to something, and you are fairly certain (or even know for sure) that you can not go, you never just say no.  One has to gently share that, even to the point of saying that you would try to make it.  Or my favourite answer, "Si Dios quiere", (if God wills it). This, to the Western mind set, is lying, but not to the person from a 'warm, or relationship, culture'.  It is ensuring that you don't damage the relationship.  An iffy response is better received than a definitive no response.

I have been heard to say some pretty flowery things.  I have learned to refer to friends as 'hermosa' - beautiful, or 'linda' - lovely, pretty, 'querida' - dear, etc.  I have been referred to with those same adjectives. The Spanish language lends itself wonderfully to this as do the people.  I often say they drip with sweetness, where we are much for stiff and direct.  I will most likely have to unlearn what I find myself slipping into while being here.

So,

Mis queridos amigos, que tengan un muy lindo día y que sientan el calor de sus amistades todo el día. Los quiero mucho.  Abrazos y besos. 

My dear friends, have a wonderful day and may you feel the warmth of your friendships all day.  I love you all.  Hugs and kisses.

This would sound so normal in Mexico.  Just sounds hinky in English.  But I have loved seeing my friends from here, and hugging them, but we don't generally talk to each other like that!

My dear sweet wonderful friend Jodi and I



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