View from the Pew

                                                  View from the Pews                                                                                          

Dear Readers,

On Pentecost Sunday Nick preached to us about speaking in many languages and how the British (or is that just the English?) are renowned for their ability to speak English louder and clearer when abroad, in an attempt to make ourselves understood.

It quite took me back to a holiday in Spain.  We were walking around a city, and I cannot remember which one, it was about lunchtime and there was a cute little park and a sandwich shop.  Well, no brainer, we would go and buy some lunch from the sandwich shop and sit in the park and enjoy a bit of a picnic.  So far, so good.

We went into the shop and it was deserted, but it was Spain so 1pm was probably a bit early for them to be ordering lunch.  The lad behind the counter seemed surprise to see us but waited expectantly for our order.  I asked him in my make-do Spanish if he spoke English.  There was a ‘Manuel’ type response which we understood to mean No.  Now we manage French reasonably well, I speak and my husband reads, and we cover most options quite well, but we never learnt Spanish at school.  However we both studied Latin and as this is the main source of French/Spanish etc. we are willing to make a fool of ourselves and give it try.

So we had a look at the ‘menu’, such as it was.  We thought about what the written words might refer to and then had a think about the pronunciation, as I know the accent on different parts of words is different to French. So taking my courage in both hands I suggested an order to the gentleman behind the counter.  He wrote something down, which was promising, but then had a follow up question.  He spoke quite quickly and I wasn’t expecting him to ask me a question so I didn’t catch what he said so I asked for the question again.  He repeated it and we listened carefully then we conferred and agreed he had asked if we wanted a drink.  OK that was easy, yes we did and a Fanta is a universal term so no problems there.

He went out the back to what we assumed was the kitchen and we sat down on the chairs provided and wondered about what we were going to receive by way of our picnic.  A few minutes later he returned with a paper carrier bag containing our order.  As he handed it over to us he said ‘Enjoy your meal and have a nice day’ in perfect English!  We were both ‘What!  You do speak English’ but as he pointed out with a very large grin, how will we ever improve our Spanish if he agrees to speak English with us. 

And as he demonstrated he did not need to practice his English; he was fluent.

As ever,

Linda Caswell