Monday 22 March 2010

Guess who I had in the back of my cab the other day...

My biggest problem with the language has been listening. Most of the time I just hear a jumbled mass of sounds. They speak almost continuously here. There is no ebb and flow, no rhythm like in Italian, and I am really strugling to extract the words I know from what people say. When I do succed, I often mistake one of the many conjugations for a new word. While I puzzle over this, the 'conversation' leaves me behind.

In my limited experience, Buenos Aires taxistas don't really talk in the same way their London counterparts do. At least not to gringos anyway. So it came as a nice surprise the other night when the guy sparked up a conversation, despite my quite blatantly not being a native. What's London like? How does it compare to Bs As? Crime. The causes of crime. (Easy enough given a robber is un robo). Football. All the essential cab based topics of conversation. I am holding my own, just about. More importantly, I am managing to decipher the gist of what he is saying.

The inevitable happens; I completely lose what he is talking about. He's looking at me enthusiastically in the rear view mirror, and I am compelled to resort to a series of sympathetic grunts, raised eyebrows and yes or nos as the tone of his voice indicates to keep my end of the bargain. Then it dawns on me - this is exactly what happens in 'conversations' with most black cabbies too, and I feel a whole lot better about the situation.

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