Voy a hablar sobre Españoland.  I am in Españoland.  Where’s that, you might ask?  It’s an imaginary place where people speak a peculiar variant of Spanish known as Españolandes.  It’s a dialect spoken by a couple hundred people who happen to be in Españoland at any given time.  Españolandores use just six tenses (present indicative, present progressive, future, perfect past, imperfect past, and subjunctive).  They also have a functional vocabulary of about 1,000 words.  They never use the familiar (tú) or plural (vosotros) forms, and they avoid any obvious English cognates like "software" and "desafortunadamente" (unfortunately).  They always start conversations with "Voy a (put verb here)," which means "I’m going to (put verb here) and you better listen to my flawless Españolandes."  And inevitably they always end conversations with "En pocas palabras, eso es todos."  Roughly translated, this means, "I’m finished, now go do something else."  Españolandores are quite competent when it comes to discussing nuclear disarmament, the ancient Roman concept of death, and the affect of methamphetamines on rural Bolivians, but they sometimes have difficulties buying goods in markets, ordering food in restaurants, or asking directions.  It makes for lively conversations of numerous topics of dubious relevance.  Those who care to speak on common Españoland topics typically speak English too well to put up with broken Españolandes, and those who speak Españolandes cannot communicate with those who need to speak Españolandes because they don’t have enough vocabulary and don’t know the appropriate verb tenses.
Life in Españoland is improving.  I’m starting to plough through some of the rigidities of the language.  I’m learning to give the teacher what they want to hear.  The end is near.  I have about three weeks before my Spanish test.  Simply put, I’ve given up learning Spanish for the next month and am focusing on learning what I need to pass the final exam.  I don’t want to do that.  I’d rather learn Spanish than Españolandes, but I don’t have much choice.  I learn by osmosis, meaning that I prefer to absorb as much as I can fix my mistakes as I go along.  I rather make a mistake ordering food in a restaurant and using a seventh (gasp!) verb tense incorrectly than stay silent because I don’t have the vocabulary needed to order food and can express my wishes because I didn’t learn that tense.  Once I leave Españoland in June, I’ll go back to learning Spanish.  En pocas palabras, eso es todos.

Books by MG EdwardsMG Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures and children’s books. A former U.S. diplomat, he served in South Korea, Paraguay, and Zambia before leaving the Foreign Service to write full time.

Edwards is author of six books. His memoir, Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, was finalist for the Book of the Year Award and the Global eBook Award. He has published four children’s picture books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series: Alexander the Salamander; Ellie the Elephant; Zoe the Zebra; and a collection featuring all three stories. His book Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories is an anthology of 15 short stories.

Edwards lives in Taipei, Taiwan with his family. He has also lived in Austria, Singapore and Thailand. For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or contact him by e-mail at me@mgedwards.com or on Twitter @m_g_edwards.

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  1. Terry's Gravatar Terry
    May 10, 2007    

    Unfortunately your only fopah (how ’bout that for slaughtering phonetics, or was that fonetiks) would probably not be ordering food. It could be a diplomatic incident. Espanoland doesn’t sound like a good plan as opposed to longer course of study and real language. Unless you are in a very rural and primitive environment, there are lots of English nouns you don’t have to learn – like TV, etc. it’s native language verbs and syntax to learn that are most critical it seems to me, besides diplomatic specific needs. That’s usually lots easier if you can focus on it knowing that English nouns are prevalent. I’m surprised at State, particularly for Spanish language whose native speakers adopt English nouns and tech terms so readily when there isn’t a common Spanish word. Good luck to you. I think languages are the hardest thing to learn. I’d rather be graded on a theoretical phyisics course…and I don’t know squat about that.

  2. Bob's Gravatar Bob
    May 14, 2007    

    Somebody needs to slap your professor.  You haven’t said so, but I bet she is insufferable.  I could probably teach you more with one night of bar-hopping than she could over the course.  So sad.

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