Watch your language

This morning, on the way back from my run, I waited at a light next to some men training guide dogs for the blind. One of the dogs was looking at me eagerly and wagging her tail as if she wanted me to pet her, so I made a comment to her [Spanish] trainer that she probably wasn’t very far along in her training. He responded by parroting a heavily American-accented Spanish. I didn’t hear his answer because I was already sprinting away, incredibly offended.

It’s not often that someone makes fun of my accent. Usually I get comments like, “Your Spanish is great, how long have you been here?” But when someone does mock it, especially a stranger, it makes me angry. I don’t know if I am just more culturally sensitive after living in the U.S. and teaching English here, but how can it be okay to laugh at someone trying to speak a second language?


8 Responses to “Watch your language”

  1. 1 Tom Tuesday, 16 September, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Sounds very rude, unless he was actually an American. Or was it more obvious piss-taking than you made it sound?

  2. 2 Katie Tuesday, 16 September, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    oh, yeah, complete piss-taking. he was VERY spanish.

  3. 3 Alex Luna Tuesday, 16 September, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    That’s soooooooo Spanish.

    And strange, because almost NO spaniard ever could even try to impersonate a native English or American. Not that I ever met one. Most of them can’t (and are proud of) speaking English without a very heavy accent.

  4. 4 Jennifer Woodard Maderazo Wednesday, 17 September, 2008 at 12:10 am

    I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me over the years in Spain. But curiously it’s only happened after I tell people where I’m from…like they think “shit, she’s from the u.s., here’s a chance for my big joke!” it’s one of the rudest and stupidest things that can happen to you here.

  5. 5 leftbanker Friday, 19 September, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    I probably would have said something mature like, “What kind of accent does my fist have?” He would never say something insulting like that to a dude,though. You can bet on that. I have only had this happen once. It was in a train station in France and I was buying a ticket. The ticket guy said something about my bad French. I wanted to reach through the bars that separated us, grab him by the lapels, and find out just how well those bars were anchored in the wall. Instead I offered to order my ticket in a couple of other languages. He said he just spoke French. I can’t imagine that anyone who has ever studied another language, and knows how difficult it is, would mock someone’s accent.

    In his own little insecure, dickless mind he probably thought that you were reproaching him on his dog-training skills.

  6. 6 Katie Friday, 19 September, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    You might be right about that last bit. Still.

  7. 7 Sally Saturday, 27 September, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    I lived in Madrid for about 6 years, and that used to happen to me all the time. It made me crazy. It is incredibly rude and very Spanish.

  8. 8 pedro Wednesday, 22 October, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Yeah, i’m also a foreigner living in Madrid, and it seems they (spaniards) are proud about NOT being able to pronounce words in other languages correct.
    OTOH, they get really pissed with the fact that we portuguese can speak rather well other languages, and make ourselves understood pretty clear.
    Of course, it all steams from the fact that we DO NOT dub cinema and tv there, and here they dub everything.

    oh well…

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