A Dog Walks into a Bar

When I moved to Barcelona just over four years ago I didn’t speak a word of Catalan. My friend Danielle tried to help me out by giving me a list of handy expressions but Catalan is not like Castellano (Spanish as most people know it) – in that you can’t just look at a word and know how it’s pronounced. And so I left the U.S. without even being able to figure out how to pronounce “adieu” (goodbye – pronounced “ah-DAY-ooh”).
Four years later I am taking Catalan class two mornings a week and gave a short presentation the other day. The presentation was just telling a short story to my class of 17 students. And so I shared the story of my first or second summer at camp and how while it’s outside of Catalunya there is a Catalan employee who is always happy to help me practice speaking Catalan. 

And so during a break one day, I went to the bar to order an orange juice. I didn’t have time to wait for the fresh squeezed kind so I wanted to order a bottle of orange juice, and since I wanted to take it to go, I would add that I didn’t need a glass. And so, I drew in my breath and expelled my much rehearsed question:

Vull una ampolla de suc de taronja i no necessito un gos. 

Well, my Catalan friend Luis, the bartender at the time, gave me a half smile, chuckled for a second and corrected me “un goT”?

Right, GOS vs GOT – I had inadvertently let Luis know that I wouldn’t be needing a DOG with my bottle of oj. Normal. 

And that is my best advice for language learners looking to memorize vocabulary – not that I go out of my way to do so, but an embarrassing experience is one way to ensure you’ll never forget how to say something. 


Posted on November 8, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Ha, so funny! More stories please 🙂

    Sent from my iPad


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