I studied French in middle school, high school, and a semester of college. Somewhere along the way, I noticed my accent sounded different from those of my classmates.
Instead of sounding like an American speaking French, I sounded like a Chinese speaker. I had a Cantonese French accent.
Last week in Spanish class, we took turns reading a conversation. I properly “j”ed my “ll”s (I’ve decided to go west with my Spanish) and rolled my “rr”s, but I realized upon finishing one of my lines that something was off.
Aside from my work in progress “o”s and “e”s I didn’t sound much like my classmates, but I didn’t sound like my instructor either.
I sounded like a Chinese speaker. I had a Cantonese Spanish accent.
It’s not always there, but when it shows up it sounds really, really odd.
When I got home, I switched our Google Home to the two languages we’re learning: Spanish and Japanese.
Then I went to my office and realized I had to ask Google to turn on the lights. Hilarity ensued.
Eventually, I figured out both the verb and the conjugation to turn the lights on and off. Imperative tense FTW!
However, Google seemed to recognize only 30% of the lights in the house, none of which were in my office. I eventually figured out I had to rename “office” to “oficina”. Finally, I had light.
A non-English speaking Google Home is either going to be really good for my Spanish, or really frustrating, because if I can’t get what I want from Google I’m going to have to resort to Alexa, who can’t even understand me in English.
The big deal is that Google Assistant now listens for Spanish first, and translates my English into Spanish garble unless I Speak. Super. Slowly. And. Enunciate. Very. Clearly.
It’s easier for me to speak Spanish. So I do. Google even understands me most of the time.
In other news, I realized today that I don’t translate peligro and advertencia to English. These words are all over the place, so I’ve learned them from context. It’s interesting to understand a word simply for what it is.
I walked by a sign today, read it, and continued on.
After I rounded the corner, I realized it was in Spanish.
Score one for not noticing!
As I thought about the sign, I considered how all the word endings matched in terms of gender and quantity. I wondered if I would have remembered those details if I’d crafted it. In that moment, I empathized with crafters of Engrish signs around the world.
I wonder what the español equivalent of Engrish is. Espanol?