When I came home from Mexico last weekend, even though I had only been for a week, I found myself wanting to say “Ola!” to literally everyone I saw.
It’s official, Ola is my favourite ‘hello’ word from any language. It outshines any english form (hey, hi, hello [yawn fests]), french form (bonjour, salut), italian form (ciao, salve), chinese form (ni hao), or japanese form (konnichiwa, moshi moshi) that I know. [I mean, moshi moshi is fun but it’s only applicable over the phone so you can’t just say it while you’re walking around, you know?]
I realise that this is just a small sampling of the languages available on earth, but these are the ones that I happen to know off the top of my head. I love trying to speak in other languages, so anytime I get to travel somewhere where they don’t speak English is a real treat. I know some people feel nervous about speaking in other languages, and it’s totally understandable. So many fumbles will happen when you are trying to convey your meaning in another language, but I actually love the challenge and the resulting hilarity that can ensue from misunderstandings. (I have many of these stories from my time in Japan.) But this post is about Spanish, not Japanese!
My knowledge of Spanish is so completely basic, previous to this last year I only knew Ola, gracias, and cómo estás. Back in September I spent 2 weeks in Peru where I learned a teensy bit more. Just a few crucial things like “Tienes leche de soya?” (do you have soy milk? truly important), “¿Dónde está?” (where is ____? not as important as the last one, but still useful), “un poquito” (a little)… and that’s pretty much it. What’s amazing, though, is how many times I went out of my way to speak just those few sentences.
For example, walking around the town of Puerto Vallarta, I went out of my way to ask people where things were, even when I knew the answer.
Permitame senor/senorita, dónde está Starbucks?
Permitame senor/senorita, dónde está la Catedral?
Permitame senor/senorita, dónde está Planeta Vegetarianos?
Permitame senor/senorita, dónde está el Plaza?
or a few times at my resort:
Permitame senor/senorita, dónde está chips de plátano? (Where are the banana chips?! Seriously, they kept moving them around on me.)
“Tu hablas español?” they would ask, to which I would always reply, “ci! un poquito!” Then they would proceed to answer my question with more Spanish, explaining the location. At the end of the explanation when I was stood scratching my head and staring blankly back at them, they would repeat again, slower, and with more gestures… because clearly I don’t speak even a little Spanish. But still, it’s fun to pretend and to try.
Spanish is certainly a fun language to speak, so it’s no wonder that in my head walking down the street in chilly Toronto I am saying “ola!” to everyone. Even when I was around other English speakers in Mexico I would say ola and gracias. It’s infectious in my brain, like my brain wants to be rewired into Spanish.
Which languages do you guys like to speak other than English? Even poorly! Do you get nervous speaking in another language? Which ones sound the nicest to you? And most importantly, what’s your favourite form of hello?
Most languages are prettier than English, don’t you think? (Sorry, English.)
Happy hump day, everyone. 🙂