What I Know Now That I Didn’t Know Then

Random thoughts and comments about learning Spanish as an adult:
Now I know how to say it doesn’t fit, “No cave,” and it didn’t fit, “No cupo”.

I noticed a connection between the old-timey English word “hoosegow” that my grandpa used to say. “They threw him in the hoosegow”. and the often-used Spanish word “juzgado” (often pronounced – you guessed it –  a lot like “hoosegow.”)

Lots of people say “Si, verdad?” when they are agreeing with you. Only they pronounce it “Si, verda?” The worker we hired to spray weeds and spread fertilizer in our fileds hardly moves his upper lip when he talks, so he says “Si, eda?” And sometimes just “Da?”

You can get through many conversations by using “Si, verdad?” or  “E,” (meaning you agree), or “Asi es”. Nobody wants to hear your opinions much, anyway. And it’s polite to just agree even if you don’t. I find that custom extremely interesting, and rather difficult to perform.

There are quite a few words that many people know here that are not in the dictionary. There is a bird here called “tutubisi’”. It looks a little like a mockingbird, and it lives in the trees around the farmland.  It must be some kind of flycatcher. There is a frightening, quite large black wasp-like creature  that people here call a Juan Sanchez. Their stings can feel worse than scorpion stings, they say.

I knew that maiz was corn. And people talked about “sorgo” or sorghum. But I didn’t know that “maiz nilo” was the same as “sorgo”. Maiz nilo – cornes from Egypt – the Nile. Sorghum. Sorgo. Miaz Nilo. I had a big “aha,” moment about that.
Everyday Spanish uses a verb form that English speakers have mostly dropped.  It is common now to hear people say “If I was going to be here,” “If I was you,” etc., although I’m sure high school and college English teachers struggle to correct and educate their students.

Anyway, in Mexico I hear even children using the subjunctive mood “If I had done this…”. It is used to express doubt, uncertainty, and judgement. “I want,”, I hope”, “it’s probable that”. At least I can hear it now, even though I probably (there’s a subjunctive mood right there!) will not use it correctly myself for some time.

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