I am always fascinated when traveling in any country, where my native English is not the first language. Over the years I have trained my ears to listen to the melody and rhythmic cadence specific languages offer, like a signature label.
Traveling from Spanish speaking Dominican Republic to French/Creole speaking Haiti was a roller coaster with moments of thrilling bewilderment to udder confusion and ignorance. 50% of the time you are listening intently to understand most words, the remainder of the time is listening to locals slip into slang and rapid fire utterances. At times you feel so inadequate. It is at that point I ask a very simple question in Spanish or French, to get control of the melody again.
As I tried to communicate to the driver and his assistant in Spanish, I realized I understood more than I thought, including more bad words for my own good. The problem I have is speaking Spanish and French on the same trip. Like trying to switch chords mid-song. Undoubtedly the wrong language comes out, especially those quick, reflexive responses. “Oui…no I mean… Si.” “Tres bien, darn it…muy bien.” I am always impressed by multi-lingual people. I suppose with training and practice, it will start to come naturally.
I have been accused of speaking Spang-lish. Add in some French and it is now Span-franco-lish. At heart, at least when you try…. most appreciate it. Watch out Creole…. Sa k’ pase?