I need to be clear – how learning Spanish is changing how I communicate

04/02/2022
I need to be clear how learning Spanish is changing how I communicate

2 min read

I am revisiting my Spanish course on Duolingo.

I love the multilingual voice in my head that sees an object and knows two words for it – it makes everyday life a bit of a game.  The table – La Mesa… ding ding 10 points for you!

In a recent set of lessons, I had to translate ‘quiero’ and ‘necesito’.  Funnily, I knew the actual meaning of these words – ‘I want’ and ‘I need’ but when translating sentences my brain regularly substituted ‘I would like’.  So I translated ‘Yo quiero una falda verde’ as ‘I would like a green skirt’ but the actual meaning of this sentence is ‘I want a green skirt’.

I was using a passive voice by default.  It made me stop and think about why I do this.  Is it because of my personality, my culture or my gender?  It is probably a little all of them – a bias towards being sweet, considerate and kind – being a good girl.  Damnit, how is this ingrained so deeply?

My partner, who lived in Spain for a year, confirmed that the Spanish tend to be more direct in their conversation generally.  How refreshing, despite being someone who trades in passivity, I always prefer direct responses.  I frequently feel frustrated that I did not say what I wanted.  Granted, a big issue for me is that my brain tends to be so busy evaluating every possible outcome that it is not always 100% sure of what it wants.  Maybe I need to be happy with 80% or above :-D.

I want to be more assertive in my communication style.  I do not want to capitulate, hedging in an attempt to keep all options open and/or smooth the road.  The first step is to stop using ‘would’ or ‘should’.  I am inviting the voice in my head to reverse translate for me – only using ‘want’ or ‘need’ in future.  Let’s see how this works out…

Hopefully, there is no need for all my grammatical squirming.

 

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