Making an Ass of myself.

Donkey_GreyThe complex nature of any language can seem nonsensical and impossible to grasp to the natives, let alone foreigners, especially when trying to make yourself understood.

Many years ago in Spain I recall asking a shopkeeper for butter but, not really knowing what the word for butter was, I assumed it would be roughly the same as the French ‘beurre’ and that as I was in Spain I probably needed to put an ‘o’ on the end to make it sounds a bit more Spanish.

“Tiene beurro por favor?”

A quizzical and ‘you moron’ look befell the shopkeeper’s ageing, tanned face so I mimed an imaginary piece of bread in my left hand spreading my imaginary ‘beurro’ with my imaginary knife in my right hand, repeating “Beurro? beurro por pan?” and ‘spreading’ more exaggeratedly as if it would make any difference. It didn’t.

Fortunately, a kindly Spanish-speaking ex-pat (yes, I know that’s a rare beast – the speaking Spanish, not being kind!) came to my rescue and explained, with a wry and slightly condescending smile, that all the shopkeeper could hear was ‘burro’. I was asking for a donkey and, worse still, I was asking for a donkey I could spread liberally on my bread.

At least I tried.