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In danger of losing my Spanish?
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In danger of losing my Spanish?

I used to secretly enjoy the look of horror on Spanish doctors' / bankers' / vets' faces when they were suddenly faced with the prospect of having to deal with a foreigner, writes Jennie Rhodes

Jennie Rhodes

Malaga

Friday, 21 June 2024, 17:30

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In the last week alone I have been spoken to in English twice in places where I would usually expect to have a conversation in Spanish. The first was a call from the Axarquía hospital to confirm an appointment I'd been waiting for. The call came not from the admin team, but from one of the volunteer interpreters. It seems that the hospital has now taken to passing any correspondence addressed to a foreign-sounding patient to the volunteers.

This is the first time in 15 years that it's happened and I was slightly put out that there isn't some sort of note on my details that flags up saying 'translator not required'. I was also somewhat relieved that the appointment is for sinus problems and not something of a more personal nature. Not that I think for one minute that the volunteer in question would be indiscreet, but I'd rather keep it between me and the doctor. I suppose the hospital wasn't to know that I know the volunteers through my job with SUR in English.

The second time was at the vets. I'd popped in for my dog's worming tablets, something I have done routinely in Spanish for 10 years. Once again I was spoken to in English. With my fair skin, freckles and blonde hair, what's the giveaway here? I proceeded to speak in Spanish until the vet told me he liked to practise his English, at which point I felt obliged to switch. But I had a moment of panic: will I never get to speak Spanish again?

I used to secretly enjoy the look of horror on doctors' / bankers' / vets' faces when they were suddenly faced with the prospect of having to deal with a foreigner. Then there'd be a look of confusion that would eventually melt into relief when I spoke to them in fairly fluent Spanish.

While I salute those who have learned English for the foreigners and of course the wonderful volunteer interpreters at the hospital, I'm wondering if I should start wearing a badge that says 'hablo español', otherwise while everyone is speaking to me in English, I'm in danger of losing my Spanish.

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