Always Learning!

The world through the prism of my mind

Spanish are less personally intrusive than French – class experience

Posted by Alexandre Rafalovitch on October 3, 2006

This is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I could not avoid noticing the differences in phrases I am learning in Spanish as compared to the ones I was learning in French.

Both language classes spent a first couple of weeks with Name, Surname, Workplace, Street address, Phone number and suchlike. No surprise there, even though I don’t normally rattle out my full details at the first meeting with a stranger.

However, I distinctly remember also having to divulge my marital and parenthood status in the early French classes (e.g. I am married, I am single, I have N children, etc). That was quite embarrassing, if not downright annoying. Especially so for those adults who were single without children and therefore had nothing to discuss at length. The artificial learning conversations were even more artificial for them.
So, when I switched to Spanish, I will steeling myself to this self-inflicted privacy disclosure, just to find it never happening. It has been a couple of weeks already and nobody seems to give a hoot about existance of a wife, partner or descendants.

Though it is a relief, it makes me wonder where the difference came from. Was it just that French study books were older and less politically-correct? Was it that our French teacher was trying to play a full-disclosure cupid? Or was it actually something about French versus Spanish culture that I am not aware of? And who do I ask without looking politically-incorrect myself?

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One Response to “Spanish are less personally intrusive than French – class experience”

  1. You should try learning Maori – in New Zealand, you learn the culture alongside the language. This means that one of the first things you learn is how to formally introduce yourself. This involves:

    – identifiyng yourself (your name)
    – locating the place you live (by nearest mountain, river, etc.)
    – naming your parents
    – naming your iwi (tribe), hapu (sub-tribe), whanau (family)

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