Honorary Anglophones: Blanquita de Bruselas

Hola! Welcome to my newest blog feature, Honorary Anglophones. Here I’ll be interviewing my friends who have successfully undertaken the long, arduous, and phrasal-verb filled process of learning English. I’ll be asking them what it was like learning English, what they liked/disliked about the process, and other random things related to learning English as a second language.

I’ve taught English for years and never wished to switch places with any of my students – there are silent letters all over the place (walk, calf, climb), a mind-boggling amount of other spelling inconsistencies, crazy dialects, the word get (actually, the word set has the most definitions in the most recent OED, coming in with a whopping 424), and everything about thorough.

As someone whose spent a lot of time learning various languages from scratch, I’ve oft wondered what English sounds like to those who don’t speak it and what the biggest stumbling blocks to proficiency are for English language learners. So here to kick this off is my good amiga Blanca, who hails from Madrid, Spain. We lived together in the same kot (student house) in Brussels for several months and once we both realized we were both linguistics nerds (she is a translator who speaks and/or dabbles in Spanish, English, French, Bulgarian AND Japanese), we were pretty much totally hooked on each other. I give her major props for not only surviving a three-month internship in Houston, Texas, but for doing it without a car. A truly amazing woman.

One funny anecdote about Blanca is when she texted me one summer night asking if I wanted to go to Knokke with her. Thinking this was some bar in downtown Brussels, I declined her invitation, exhausted from a long day of work, but told her I’d meet her the following night at Cafe Belga. The next day I went to the beach in Oostende with another friend. When I met up with Blanca later that night, still sandy and beachy, I said, “So guess what?! I went to the beach in Oostende today!” and she said, “Yea Alice, ME TOO,  I freaking invited you last night and you said no!” I was confused. Blanca kindly elaborated and explained that  Knokke is a famous stretch of beach in Oostende, and not in fact, a bar. Big whoops on my part!

Anyway, please meet the lil’ fireball named Blanca!

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What’s your name (accents, characters and all)?

Blanca Hernández Pardo

Where were you born?

Madrid, Spain

What’s your mother tongue?

Spanish [espaÑol hehe]

Speak any other languages?

English, French, Japanese, Bulgarian

When/how did you learn to speak English? Did you want to learn it?

Every child at school (age of 3) begins learning English till he/she has 18 years old. Most children don’t like English at all (maybe because they begin learning very young and as it’s mandatory). At first, I didn’t like it (indeed, I hated it).

Was learning English a hard and painful process? 

It wasn’t for me because at the age of 13 I began English lessons at the British Council in Madrid (very good institution for Spanish people to learn English intensively). 

What do you like about English or about speaking English?

I focus more in the linguistic side of the language. I like learning how words mix with others and how they create meanings depending on the place they are, together with which they are (syntaxes)…

What don’t you like about English or about speaking English? What do you find difficult, annoying, or non-sensical?

Definitely: the accent and pronunciation of words/sentences. As I come from a country with a language in which every word is pronounced with open and wide sounds, when I have to change (quickly) to English, maybe I sound like I’m drunk.

Ever said something and then realized you said something really dumb or sexual without trying? (Like  using préservatifs to talk about conservateurs, big oops)

Many times!!! There are lots of false friends between English and Spanish!!

One case: constipated and constipado. The first one… I don’t need to explain what does it mean, but its homophonic word in Spanish means cold (when you are sick). I said many times: I am constipated… ou yeah……..

Which do you prefer: British English or American English?

British English!!!!! (Love you, little Alice hehe) 

Ever been to America? If so, where?

I’ve been many times, not for too long. Most of the times only for 1 month (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, New York City).

Four months doing an internship in Houston (even though the way you looked at me when I first told you I was very excited because I was going to work in Houston! Haha).

How do you keep up your English in your home country? Basically, what TV shows do you watch?

OMG… ready? Go: How I Met Your mother, Breaking Bad, The Big Bang Theory, Scandal, Elementary, American Horror Story, Sons of Anarchy, Glee, Carrie’s Diary, Modern Family, Revolution, and the 90% of the movies in original version. 

Favorite word or expression in English?

Are you really asking me this? TERRIFYING!!!! Or even “YOLO”, “TGIF”, “obviously”, “wonderful”, “ohmygoodness” jajaja =)

Tell us a saying or idiom in your language that English doesn’t have!

“Cada mochuelo a su olivo” > when the time comes, every child has to go back to his/her house (if there is a group of children at someone’s, the mother usually says that when it’s late).

“Tiran más dos tetas que dos carretas” > means that, finally, tits win everything (if you have to choose between something and a girl with a good pair of tits, you’ll always choose in first place this second option).

 A joke in your language?

I’m not very good on this…

Le dice un espermatozoide a otro:

– Oye tío, ¿sabes si falta mucho para llegar al ovario?

Y el otro le contesta:

– Una barbaridad, todavía vamos por la garganta…

 

Blanca, gracias por participar en esta encuesta, que son los mejores. Te echo de menos!

About alicestockwellegan

Language and culture enthusiast from New York living in San Francisco.
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