Monday, February 3, 2014

Are Spaniards impolite?

The way people speak here is quite different from how Canadians speak. Examples:

At the store, the clerk says:

Canada: “Hello, can I help you?”
Spain: “Dime!” (“Tell me [what you want]!”)

Passing someone while walking:

Canada: “Hey, how are ya?”
Spain: “Hasta luego!” or “Adios!” (“Bye!” - they're saying hello and goodbye at the same time)

Answering the phone:

Canada: “Hello, Aga speaking?”
Spain: “Dime!” (“Talk to me!”)

Giving money to the cashier:

Canada : “Here you go.”
Spain: “Toma!” (“Take it!”)
This is how close one of my neighbors talks to me. And she knows my Spanish level isn't great so she yells, too.
As you can see, the way people speak here is almost command-like and very direct. Are they less polite? In my opinion, no. Certain ways of communicating are more “efficient”, but there's a lot of politeness in other aspects. When you enter a store or approach a group, you say hello to everyone in general and they will greet you back. (Just in the pueblo. If you do this in a big city like Madrid you won't get a response.) Also, here the entire group is considered for activities. Leaving someone to fend for themself is not considered in proper form.

Sometimes people show more patience for the older generation than I've seen in Canada. On a bus in Úbeda, two older women were chatting in the aisle. A younger woman, heading towards the back, stopped and waited for the women to move out of the way. And waited. And waited. She and the guy behind her never asked the women to move, instead they politely waited for them to finish their chat. The whole time I watched this, I thought, “If I was them I'd be yelling right about now.”

How ironic that I'm a teacher for students wanting to learn English here, and meanwhile I'm getting the best education ever on a different way to relate to others.

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