September 13, 2008

A comment

Hey everyone, sorry it's been so long. I've been really busy! As of right now I can't promise to be posting a lot either... we'll see what happens.

As proof of that I'm still checking on you guys, I thought I'd share this comment I got on this post. It's from Vicious Misfit.

Great blog. Really glad I found it. I just returned from my 2nd trip to San Juan (between hurricanes), and I was able to adventure out from Santurce this time around. And being a redhead, I found your commentary entertaining.

However, I actually found that once I left Condado, people were happy to converse with me in Spanish, once I'd responded or initiated a conversation in the language, although they tended to ease off the accent and expressions. Those that I met loved to talk, which seems to be yet another source of pride. Just asking for street directions could prompt a 30-minute conversation which wanders off into stories, politics, and usually will engage other bystanders. Sometimes the conversation would drift in between languages (I'm not fluent by any means), but there didn't seem to be a particular preference other than simply communicating in the way they felt would be most helpful/effective.

As for their English fluency in general, even in the tourist areas, I've only met a handful of people who speak English beyond a functional or informative level. And as far as I can tell, while English is taught throughout school alongside Spanish, it's the latter that is used in instruction and other school functions. Once I wanted to discuss opinions or anything in depth, Spanish was a necessity.

I was pleasantly surprised. As you'd stated, the culture is essentially from Taino, African, and Spanish influence, and I think it's great that the language has not succumbed to English due to U.S. occupation. To be honest, I was a little apprehensive to travel there initially for fear that the guides were right about all locals being fluent in English. I was worried to find something like Hawaii, but that can't be further from the truth.

And to get back on topic (sorry for rambling), I agree the "Boricua Spanish" is too often discounted because it deviates so far from the academy. And there's something about the tone and rhythm of the speaking which I now miss, having returned back home.
I don't really have much to say about this, except yes, guidebooks lie, and they lie viciously. And the last sentence also rings true for me. To me, Puerto Rican Spanish sounds kind of soothing and comforting (depending, of course, on who's talking--some people are really nasal and it kind of hurts).

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. Hopefully we'll get more material up here soon!


Andrea Fahy said...

Hi, I just found your blog last night and am looking forward to starting from the beginning and reading everything! My husband and I are planning to move to Puerto Rico in a couple of years, but this will be a big deal considering right now we know very little of the area and do not speak Spanish. So, the goal is to learn a lot and become fluent in Spanish before then! I don't know if you have time to make recommendations, but we are looking at the Rosetta Stone kit, if you have any thoughts on that I'd love to hear from you - or any other language learning kits to prepare us for Puerto Rican Spanish.

Keep up the great site!

Petra H said...

I agree with Vicious Misfit, I have also noticed that people are happy to speak Spanish to you if you try.
We have just spent a few hours having coffee with our neighbours - who are well-travelled and do speak English (I guess as the husband goes to international medical conferences) but they will only speak Spanish to me as they know that I want to learn! The only place where people really speak to me in English is in / outside the restaurants in Condado... and they will do the same to O, who is Spanish!
However, I am nowadays making sure to read books in Swedish (instead of English) or Spanish on the bus, just so people don't assume that I am a gringa from the US ;-)

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