Today I had an interview with a young woman who is doing a study of the international community in Merida. She’s a lovely person with her whole life ahead of her. She is respectful and sensitive to others. The questions she asked me were well thought out and to the point. If you run into Nikki or one of her classmates, I hope you’ll give them some of your time… they need as much information as they can compile.
A lot of her questions had to do with language – specifically Spanish. She asked me if I thought it was important for people from other countries to learn the language when they moved here. Is it?
When I really thought about it, I supposed it would not be necessary if one frequented shops, restaurants, and so on where there were always English speakers around. And there are lots of those places now. And lots of Merida’s citizens speak English. Especially the young kids…
I am reminded of when I was in Holland two years ago… (Now there’s a HARD-to-learn language!) A soccer ball was barreling down the narrow street, heading straight for me and I could see a small boy giving it his all, trying to catch the ball. I stuck my foot out and detained it in its tracks. The boy caught up and I handed it to him. The little fellow was about 6 and in perfect English he thanked me. “Are you parents English?” I asked him. “No, we’re Dutch but we speak different languages every day.” EVERY DAY? “Why yes,” he said, a frown wrinkling his brow… to him this was the most natural thing in the world. He had no chauvinism about his own mother tongue. He simply used languages as communicative tools – No more… no less.
Now, at a basic level, Spanish is NOT a hard language to learn. To acquire enough of the vocabulary, verbs and idioms is not difficult, especially if you don’t set unreasonable expectations. Even with just basic vocabulary, you’ll be able to buy fish from the fishermen as they bring in their catch… say hello to your neighbors… Explain what you want for dinner… It is nice to gain fluency but even enough Spanish “to get by” is sufficient to open up a whole new world.
There are many websites that have lists of words that are identical (or really similar) in English and Spanish. The following list of “A” words is from
I have pasted the list here and maybe you’ll be curious to see how many words there are that begin with other letters. The website even has a button you can push to hear the pronunciation.