I’d had 6 years of Spanish before I reached University. But only 2 of it in High School. They required 3 in high school to skip the language requirement. So my advanced little farm town that had us start a second language in 5th grade (so 5,6,7, & 8, then Freshman and Sophomore for my 6 years) had set me in a difficult spot at University.
Either I had to “test” in Spanish (and be in Spanish Lit classes with the native speakers or at best the final advanced classes) or pick another language. I chose French.
This was a problem, as every time I tried to speak French, it came out Spanish. So one day (about the 2nd week) I did a long session of post hypnotic suggestions and banned Spanish. After about 2 more weeks, I was mostly doing just French. It then had all the French language classes at university (that is, all the ones teaching just the language). 18 units of it. About 4000 verbs. All the tenses (including past-simple used only in literature). Untold vocabulary.
Fast forward to now.
I’m actually using Spanish more than French. Have for the last dozen years+. It took time to let the ban on Spanish lapse. But by then it was 30+ years in the past. “A bit rusty” isn’t even close. Now the Daughter-in-Law has Puerto Rican heritage, and in Florida it’s like California – lots of Spanish around.
So I decided to “refresh” my Spanish. I’ve been watching some Spanish TV (with captions) and listening to some Spanish radio stations. It’s coming back OK. But there are “issues”.
First off, my hearing is not so good. I’ve learned to do “correction’ in English over the years so I have a good map of “what I heard” to what was really said. Not so in French or Spanish. I can read both much much better than I can hear and understand them.
Second, the language is different. For the South American TV shows, I can follow it much better. It seems a bit older style of Spanish and much slower. The shows from Spain ( Mar de Plastico & El Ministerio del Tiempo ) use a much more clipped fast style. Plus they have various accents. Germans speaking Spanish. Gypsies. Each with a different sound profile. Some with older Castilian listhp ;-) some modern street slang. In many cases, words left out so not complete sentences. Often words crammed together leaving syllables gone or so compressed as to be a minor blip sound I easily miss and don’t recognize as a syllable anyway. But I’m getting there. Each day, a few more words from the onelongutrancesaidpronto comes through.
I also suspect that what I learned 55 years ago was already older at that time as the books were not new, so I’m likely more familiar with the Spanish from 1900 than from 2015. Languages change over time. In the modern TV I’m hearing very little use of the formal, and a lot more clipped short familiar. Seems the characters from the past still use Ustedes, but the present not so much. Don’t know if it is because the characters are supposed to be familiar, or if the modern usage has drifted to the informal like modern German and other languages.
Occasionally now, I find myself thinking a thing in Spanish. (Today I looked at my mutt in the front yard and asked him if he wanted some food, in Spanish… He looked confused ;-) Which leads to the next odd bit. Now I’ve got some bits of French trying to invade when I hit a null spot in the Spanish. I just had a thought wander by that started in Spanish and finished with a few French words. Spanaise? Fancanish? Who knew…
Well, time will sort it out.
I’ve found that Spanish TV has come a long way from when I was 8 watching Zoro at my friend’s home. And Sabado Gigante.
Mar de Plastico is about a fictional town on the southern Spanish coast. A Sea of Plastic as it is covered in greenhouses. It’s a mix of romance, cop show, murder mystery. I really liked it. They have some semi-artificial racial tension with African migrant labor and Gypsies of 200 years residence vs The locals. But the main focus is the cops and murder mystery. Well acted, IMHO. Superb photography and sets. The Spanish have an eye for video / images.
The same star male lead appears in El Ministerio del Tiempo. (Rodolfo Sancho) A kind of Time Cops show. They are to “protect the history of Spain”. Again, well acted, superb photography. Lighting and set dressing are well done ( I suspect helped by actual historical sites that were preserved). One treat for me is getting to see history from the POV of the Spanish. Things like The Grand Armada that, for me, were just something a storm sunk during British history; instead seen as the pride of a Global Empire and with so many brave young soldiers / sailors lost. Pride and tragedy, not threat and victory.
There’s a wiki on it:
El Ministerio del Tiempo (English: The Ministry of Time) is a Spanish fantasy television series created by Javier and Pablo Olivares and produced by Onza Partners and Cliffhanger for Televisión Española. It premiered on February 24, 2015 on TVE’s main channel La 1. The series follows the exploits of a patrol of the fictional Ministry of Time, which deals with incidents caused by time travel.
On March 24, 2015, it was confirmed that TVE had renewed the series for a second season. The show was renewed for a third season on September 22, 2016. On December 29, 2016 it was announced that RTVE had sold the rights to Netflix to broadcast the third series internationally, outside of Spain, resulting in a bigger production budget.
The Ministry of Time is the best kept secret of the Spanish state: an autonomous government institution that reports directly to the Prime Minister. Its patrols have to watch the doors of time so that no intruder from other eras can change history for their own benefit.
The series follows the assignments of the Ministry’s newest patrol: the one formed by Army of Flanders soldier Alonso de Entrerríos, 19th century student Amelia Folch and 21st century Samur paramedic Julián Martínez.
There’s also an official web site, heavy with video / photos…
Similarly Mar de Plastico:
(And yes, I know I ought to be using the accent marks but it’s a PITA to do the unicode and I don’t have a European keyboard.)
Mar de plástico (Spanish: Plastic Sea) is a Spanish crime drama television series produced by Boomerang TV for Atresmedia. It airs on Atresmedia’s main channel Antena 3. The series focuses on the investigation of a murder in the fictional town of Campoamargo, set in an area of the province of Almería known as the “plastic sea” due to the numerous greenhouses that cover it, and the interracial conflicts that arise in the greenhouses. The pilot episode aired on 22 September 2015, being simulcast on Antena 3, Neox, Nova and Mega.
In November 2015, Antena 3 announced that the series had been renewed for a second season, which was later confirmed as the last one.
One thing else that was a bit of a surprise for me, but ought not to have been: Just how much the Spanish set shows remind me of Irish and English folks. Mexico is closer and Mexicans more numerous here. In the Spanish shows, I see folks who look like my family, use phrases with mates in English, and have similar cultural norms to the Irish.
Things like just because you slugged your buddy in the chops for going after your girl, doesn’t mean you can’t have drinks together later; after all, you were in your right to slug him and now he knows you are over it… Alien to German / English sorts, common with Irish / Britons. Think John Wayne having a fight in The Quiet Man with his future wife’s “male guardian” then having drinks later… http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045061/
The connection of Ireland having been populated by folks from the Gaelic area of Hispania is still evident on both sides.
So for me, more Spanish TV is in my future. It’s just very well done.
Netflix has a lot of it, and I’m marking more for future watching. I’ve also found a few in French. I’m going to make an attempt at keeping both languages “on-line” together and see if I can keep them properly separated. Hopefully not falling into a bunch of Spancaise and Franish or whatever ;-) But it’s an odd thing for me. So I’m typing this and thinking por accidente and realizing I’m mixing three languages in bits. By accident. Par… Ooofta. Seems my brain is happy to use a given meaning-symbol from whatever language pops up first and doesn’t care that they are supposed to come in sets of a kind. C’est la vie.
So we’ll see how this works out.
But even if you do need to read the captions to follow the shows, they are well done and worth it, IMHO. Anyone wanting to learn a language ought to find out what Netflix shows are available in it. It can be a challenge, but so are the native speakers in the streets when you get there… At least with the TV / Netflix you can pause and replay till you get it right ;-)