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Speak Spanish In One Easy Lesson

“Compadres! It is imperative that we crush the freedom fighters before the start of the rainy season. And remember, a shiny new donkey to whoever brings me the head of Colonel Montoya!”
–Montgomery J. Burns

Do you want to learn Spanish but find all those tenses confusing? Are there cute Latina girls you’d like to talk to but all you can say is, “Chalupa and Taco Bel Grande?” Do you want to take a trip South-of-the-Border but don’t know the difference between a baño and a burro? Well you too can speak Spanish like a native!!! *
If you follow Andrew’s (Andres’) quick and dirty (rapido y sucio) Spanish course you’ll do just fine. I don’t claim you’ll be fluent but who needs to be fluent, you already speak English don’t you? And a recent survey shows that English speakers are not only taller, sexier and have better teeth than some other people in the world (not the original English speakers in the latter case) but have better indirect access to Weapons of Mass Destruction. In fact, to become the leader of the free world you don’t even need to speak English or Spanish all that well.
But on to Spanish. First and most importantly, you just need to be you. You have to be able to declaim, “I AM!” although unlike M. Descartes it might not be necessary to actually think. I am = yo soy. Good, now that you exist in Latin America you might want to learn your name. Michael = Miguel, John = Juan, Paul = Pablo, Juanita = Juanita and if you aren’t named any of those you’ll have to look your own up. Bear in mind, however, that many English (or Mongolian) names just don’t translate very well. But since you’re off on your South-of-the-Border adventure and thus probably consider yourself something of a mysterious lady or gent, what better than picking a whole new name. Be carefull, however, as not all words mean what you think they do. Take the story of a certain Peace Corps volunteer who had a name unpronounceable-to-the-Latin-tongue. She decided to go by the lovely moniker of “Paloma” which we all should know translates as the lovely “Dove” a suitably emblematic name for a person of peace if ever there was one. The problem, however, is that “Paloma” in Honduran slang means the genital parts of a male. This, while probably an accurate description of how much of the world views Americans, was surely not something she wanted. For six months everyone was too embarrassed to tell her she was introducing herself as “Penis girl” though not too polite to snicker when she did. By the time someone got around to breaking the news she was stuck with it. So to speak.
Now that you can say, “Yo soy Paloma,” and get a hearty guffaw you really ought to learn the words for you are, he/she is, we are, ya’ll are and they are. But since you aren’t paying me for this lesson you can look those up on your own.
In all your travels, peregrinations, wanderings and gallivants what do you really need? Not much. The air, such as it is, is free so all you really need is food, drink, lodging and transportation. Oh, and the bathroom. You will need that.

Donde esta? = Where is?

Comida = Food

Restaurant = Restauranté

Hotel = Hotel

Bathroom = Baño (Bahn-yo)

Coca Cola = Coca Cola

Beer = Cerveza

Pure Water = Agua Purificada

Ticket = Boletto

No Hablo Espanol = I Don’t Speak Spanish

Hablas Inglés? = Do You Speak English?

Mas Despacio = Slow Down

I want = Yo Quiero

I go = Yo Voy

Yo Necesito = I need

How much does it cost? = Quanto Cuesta?

Yes = Si

No = no

Room = Quarto

Money = Dinero

Hello = Hola

Goodbye = Adios

What is Your Name? = Como se Llama?

Hamburger = Hamburgueza

French Fries = Papas Fritas

Taco = Taco

Remember that restaurants are places whose business it is to exchange food for money, hotels exchange money for rooms, bus stations rides for money. You may well in fact be an arrogant gringo but don’t be so arrogant as to think yours is the first gringo ass to blunder in looking for these things waving an outdated copy of Lonely Planet and no more Spanish than it takes to order at Taco Bell.

Now, on to grammar. Spanish teachers would like to confuse you by claiming things called the conditional, present perfect, subjunctive and imperfect are necessary. First of all, why anyone would learn something called the imperfect is beyond me. Before I learn it I’ll wait ‘till it’s been perfected. The present is perfect enough. Yo soy, I am, right now. The future and past, however, can come in handy. Don’t worry however, you needn’t learn a bunch of confusing conjugations when those handy words “after” (despues) and “before” (antes) exist. It isn’t what they call an elegant solution but it generally works.

Oh, numbers. Numbers do tend to be important, so: uno, dos, tres, quatro, cinco, seis, seite, ocho, deis. That’s one through 10. Look up the others. Numbers, while being important are not so important as you’d think. You’d be surprised at, generally, how honest people are. Just hand them the bill and some money. Don’t worry, if it isn’t enough they’ll let you know.

A note on pronunciation: When in doubt add an “o” onto the English word and talk sort of like Speedy Gonzales. You’ll be surprised how often it works. Most importantly keep your temper, smile and never talk about anyone’s mother.

There you are. You’re just about ready for your adventure in the sun. All that’s left is vocabulary, you know, all those pesky words for things you already learned in what you thought was just quite-a-fine-language-thank-you-very-much. In the interests of space I can’t list every Spanish word. There are things called dictionaries that do that. Buy one. But here are a few more commonly used words that just might come in handy. Tienes suerte (good luck).

Quitapon = pompon for draft mules

Bombardeo de Rebote = skip bombing

Espeluznante = hair raising

Esperpento = monstrosity, freak

Cubre Sexo = G-string

Cucaña or Palo Encebado = a greased pole to be climbed as a game

Borborigmos = a rumbling of the bowels

Zumiento = juicy

Zurrona = a loose or evil woman

Zipizape = scuffle, row, rumpus

Chupaflor = hummingbird

Bravucon = fourflusher

Rompéatomos = atom smasher

Golosinear = to go around eating candy

* a native Ohioan