A DOGGIE BAG OF SPANISH
Most Mexicans working in tourist areas Like Cancun speak enough English to communicate with you...they wouldn't make much money if they didn't! But it doesn't take much effort for you to meet them half way, by learning just a little Spanish. Carlos Fiesta likes to call this "a Doggie-Bag of Spanish". Others call it "Spanglish". Whatever you call it, it can be fun and rewarding when visiting Mexico!
The idea here is not to learn Spanish, but to pick up just a few "key words" that are commonly used during Mexico travel. We'll leave the big books in the library, right Paco?
Yes...there's a good chance that you are going to butcher their language in the process. All languages have their unique quirks that need to be mastered to speak them properly, but we are just trying to get close here. However, since both Spanish and English come from the same Latin root, there are many similarities between the two languages that make it somewhat easy. And besides, the Mexicans are pretty forgiving people. They probably won't even laugh when you make mistakes. Although they might smile!
A few ideas on pronunciation will also help you. It's good to remember that in Spanish the adjective usually comes after the noun it is describing, such as "cervesa fria" (cold beer) or "dia caliente" (hot day).
It's also nice to remember that these nouns and adjectives are gender based (cervesa and fria both end in an "a" (feminine) while other words end in "o" (masculine) such as vaso blanco (white glass). Don't get to concerned about the gender of all words right now, but it's nice to know that it exists so you can refine your skills later.
Some of your dialog in Spanish might be in the form of a question. Just like in other languages it helps if you add a rising intonation at the end of your words to insinuate a question. As the Canadians say..."eh?"
Oh yes, and don't forget that the letters "LL" together usually sound like a "Y". The word 'alli' (which means over there) is pronounced "a-yee". And 'calle mayor' (main street) sounds a lot like "cah-yeh mayor".
Feel free to print out this page of Cancun Expo and bring it along on your trip. You'll be surprised how learning a few key words in Spanish will help you fit in!
Alright...you've learned a few basic words, now let's try them out.
"Hola amigo, como esta?" ~ (hello my friend, how are you?)
Okay, you've got your beer. Now you realize your travel partner has got to go to the bathroom.
"Amigo, donde esta el bano? ~ (my friend, where is the bathroom?)
It's fun to put different Spanish words together! And when you can't remember the proper Spanish word, feel free to slip in the English equivelant. They probably won't notice the difference. With a little practice you'll be speaking Spanglish in no time! Remember, before you head to Mexico be sure to bring along a "Doggie Bag of Spanish"!