Saturday, January 31, 2015

Day 3: Invent a Word

Leave it to Andrea Balt and Tyler Knott Gregson to keep us on our toes. As part of this 30-day online course I am participating in, called “Write Yourself Alive”, we are given daily writing prompts, and each day has been surprising and more challenging, yet at the same time loads of fun! Today, we have been given the assignment of inventing a new word to replace a feeling, action or idea that we think the world needs, and have found no way of expressing.

 So, here I am, absolutely stuck. I decided that the best thing to do, though, is to just start writing about it.

 Recently I was on a run here in Madrid, and thinking about how one of the students in my class had said something a bit too honest to me. Something that, in the good old US of A would have been considered down-right rude. I took it with a grain of salt, as I know kids can be unaware of the fact that something is inappropriate to say. And also because one of the interesting things I have learned about Spanish culture in almost three years of living here, is that the majority of Spaniards are quite direct.  They do not beat around the bush, or sugar coat things as much as most English speakers. In both American and English culture, we often take into account the person’s feelings, so as not to offend, and don’t always give the most honest answer.  In every day conversation, if you ask a Spanish person’s opinion, you will usually get a very honest, and straightforward (while still polite) answer. This is great, as it makes the conversation and intentions easy to understand. However, if you are sensitive, and not aware of this nature of Spanish conversation, it can sometimes come off as rude. Don’t make this mistake!

 I once worked at a summer camp, and went caving with a group of kids. We had to crawl under and around narrow spaces, and there was this one kid behind me, that, in the friendliest way ever, told me “Beth you are too fat to fit!” Of course, this could have been a language barrier issue, as I know I am not actually fat. But, I have noticed that this sort of comment is not completely abnormal. I have discussed this with other teachers, and most of us have found this to be true. As a result, Spanish people tend to be a bit less sensitive than Americans (though, I think almost everyone in the world is less sensitive than Americans). I find that I love this aspect of Spanish culture, and it makes the people here more endearing to me. It also makes me more aware of the way language can affect personalities, and how people from similar nations tend to have similar sensitivities, many of which I believe stem from language.

Anyway, all of this was going through my head as I was running the other day, and the word “Spandor”, (a combination of Spanish and Candor) popped into my head. I sort of smiled to myself and thought about adding it to Urban Dictionary. A good word for expats in Spain to use to describe this difference in language, however not one that I believe is necessary in everyday life. While I wanted to share this moment of word-creation that I had, I want to clarify that I think we have to be very careful when creating words or ideas that are related to the way we view different groups of people, whether it be race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, etc. I never want to contribute to a negative view of anyone, as I believe much of the hate in this world comes from a misunderstanding of cultural, religious, social, (etc.) differences. And after all, we all came from the same place, and headed in the same direction.

So, until I can find a word that I believe the world is looking for, enjoy this silly one.

Spandor- the specific, candid nature of the Spanish people.

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