Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What´s the Difference Between Us and Them?

Warning: Politically incorrect post ahead. All who may be offended best not to read!

That was the question posed by one of my professors during the intensive January mini-course. We were talking about fish. In Spanish, there are two words for fish: pez (when the fish is in the sea) y pescado (when it´s on your plate). In my seven (soon to be eight) years of speaking the language, I always have messed up things like this. There are also words for chicken when it´s in the barnyard and on your plate, well, you get the idea.

So, I messed up pez y pescado. My teacher looked at me and laughed, ¨Matt, you know the difference between us (Spaniards) and the Japanese?¨
¨What is it?¨ I aksed.
¨We eat pescado, they eat pez.¨

One of the things I truly love about Spain, they are brutally honest and very politically incorrect. They say what they think. If you aren´t warned about it beforehand, it can be quite offending. For instance, two Saturdays ago, I was going to a nightclub with a Spaniard friend of mine. Before leaving, my landlady suggested I change my jacket.

Another thing I love about Spain are the TV ads. Here are three of my favorites:

Renault´s Twingo Ad put to classical music

Seat (a Spanish car company) ad for the Altea XL put to the great Civil War song ¨When Johnny Comes Marching Home.¨ I asked my landlady about all the English language songs used in the ads. Her response was, ¨Well, we´re quite Americanized.¨

Finally, my personal favorite, a Vicks Nasal Spray ad. Notice at the end the part that says ¨Read the instructions of this medicine and consult the pharmicist." That is one part of Spain´s TV ads I don´t like. Every, and I mean every (without exception), medicine ad has to have that at the end of the ad, as required by law. It gets quite old when three or four medicine ads happen in a row (sadly, that has happened several times in the past few days). I mentioned to my landlady´s son, if I were to go to Hell, that would be my punishment, seeing that screen over and over again. Not a second after I said that came another ad. He looked at me and I said, with a solemn face, ¨Why??????¨

Alright, that´s all for now. I might not be able to post again for a while because the computer I use right now has weak net capabilities and Internet cafés, while cheap, aren´t high on my list. Until next time!


  1. Thanks, Matt - entertaining and the best part is we never know when it's coming.

  2. Having a Spanish wife + in-laws I feel like an Anglo-Spanish relations expert by now.

    What took me a while was after a lifetime of careful negotiation of a consensus of opinion with an English partner over every minutely detailed step in life I am now challenged with :

    "You’re the Man, you tell me what you want to do".

    Gloriously simple.

  3. Ditto, Wolfie - and did you know that in a survey some time back, the Spanish girl was the most satisfied?

    The problem is - when she says, "You're the man, you tell me," you actually need to know. :)

  4. Having all the answers can be hard but at least its not as hard as reading someone else's mind.


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