Sunday, 7 December 2014

Viñetas, el humor negro.

One of my first Spanish teachers told me that you'll know when you're really making progress in a foreign language; it's when you start to 'get' some of the humour. Part of the challenge is, of course, the language; but another aspect is a knowledge of the 'issues of the day' which make the local people smile (if sometimes a little sardonically).

As you've probably noticed already, I have a liking for the 'Fe de Ratas' viñetas (by J.M. Nieto) published in the ABC newspaper. Well, here's another dibujante who often brings me a smile, although it's usually through slightly gritted teeth. Andrés Rábago (who draws under the pseudonym 'el Roto' in the left-of-centre El País newspaper) has recently been awarded the Premio Internacional Libertad de la Prensa 2014 for his 'línea de independencia y el espíritu crítico.'

Here are a selection of mis favoritos:. Treat it as a quiz if you like. How many do you 'get' straight away? How many can you make sense of with the help of your dictionary?

I'll leave you with a tale of my own 'eureka' moment of Spanish humor. It'd taken me a while to work out what was going on in the supermercado deli-counters, the centro de salud and all the other places where the locals employed their very 'un-British' queuing system. It involves entering and asking of the waiting crowd, '¿Quién es el ultim@?' (BTW, I love the way younger Spaniards use the '@' symbol to indicate that a word can be masculino or feminina.) Whoever has just entered before you will raise their hand and you can join the throng for a chat knowing that you only have to keep an eye on this person to know when it's your turn next. (But don't forget to identify yourself when the subsequent person walks in!)

Anyway, on to my big moment... I was on my way to a match at Villarreal's Madrigal estadio one evening. It's crammed amid the narrow terraced streets of the town. I turned down the short side-street that led to my turnstile to find it full of people waiting to get in. I wasn't late for the game so assumed there was some problem with the turnstile. A few seconds later, as the crowd built up behind me, a local wag shouted, '¿Ultimo?' Well how we all laughed. And then I noticed. I was laughing too. I really felt I'd crossed a barrier in my linguistic development.

¡Mucha suerte!

If you enjoyed this resource, you might enjoy reading about my life here in Spain as an immersion teacher of a class of primary children. Zen Kyu Maestro: An English Teacher´s Spanish Adventure is published as an eBook by Monday Books. There´s a free sample chapter available to download here: Zen Kyu Maestro

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