Why I Study Spanish

​​​I gotta tell somebody else even though I told this to my Spanish class yesterday.

I was at the Civic Center Farmers’ Market and stopped at a stall where I thought I remembered buying cheap feijoas last year. I made a good chutney out of them and want to do it again this year.  Wasn’t sure it was the same vendor, though, so I walked up to the woman at the cash drawer and asked if they were the ones who sold feijoas last year.

After a beat, she said, “No speak English”, but I picked up from her body language that she did speak English but just didn’t want to waste time on someone who didn’t have something in his hand to buy. But then it sprang full blown in my mind, and I said immediately, “Has vendido el año pasado la fruta se llama feijoa?”


That backed her into a corner since she looked Latino and didn’t look like Russian or any variety of Asian and thus had to speak Spanish.  After asking me to repeat the name of the fruit (which I did in Spanish, Portuguese, and English) she told me that they didn’t grow them.  So I’ll keep watching for them at other vendors but consider this encounter a success since I was quite pleased with myself for so quickly thinking of an entire sentence in Spanish.

When I’m in the presence of someone who’s fluent in English, I get all tongue-tied and entrapped into thinking about grammar rather than communication.

But when I’m in front of someone who doesn’t speak English (or professes not to), I have a vocabulary that covers the things I’m interested in; so in those areas, I can get along just fine. And OK, I’m under no delusion that I’m even close to being a real Spanish speakerRather, I’m a speaker of necessity Spanish.

Meanwhile, here’s another San Francisco doorway, this one featuring a passing bicyclist stopping for a selfie:

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