For the last two days we, as a family, yep, the whole five of us, went shopping for hours and hours. We were meant to be purchasing necessities in furnishing and fitting out our new apartment but instead, we ended up playing charades with the shop attendants. Hilarious I tell you. In search for a toaster I say ‘pan’ since I knew that meant bread and throwing my right hand up while simultaneously saying ‘pop’ I had at least 3 attendants playing along with me. They knew exactly what I wanted.

Before our shopping trip, I had already learnt that pronouncing English words with a Spanish accent does not make me any more understandable and since my dictionary doesn’t include every word in the Spanish language I had to improvise along the way. It was a valuable experience however, as it taught me which words were the absolute basics if you plan to go shopping local language free.

Of course, google translator would be good too but I couldn’t get the app – long story.

Here goes the list:

Manners and greetings – Of course know please and thank you and the correct greetings for politeness.

Know your numbers 1 – 10. You can use your fingers if you like but you don’t want to be saying peace instead of 2 or stop instead of 5. To really drive this point home, I have found that it doesn’t matter how clearly I show the number with the use of my fingers, the waiter or shop attendant will always double check with me. If I am holding two fingers, I will always be asked ‘dos?’ So know your numbers!

Knowing your numbers is especially important when purchasing items larger than 10 or understanding the cost in the hundreds. For example, the Spanish equivalent to 549 is something we can’t translate so we take a stab in the dark and say cinco, cuatro, neuve and they correct or agree. In equivalent English terms we say five, four, nine instead of five hundred and forty nine.

Know the equivalents to like and not like. You could just say no if you don’t like it but they don’t know what you are saying no too. If you say ‘no gustar color’ they know you are saying you don’t like the colour but still might like the product or merchandise but want to see other colours.

Know the equivalents for more and less. For example, if you want a set of saucepans but for less you could say ‘poco quantas?’ meaning less cost? Also, if you wanted to know if there are more colours you could say ‘mas colors’?

Specific descriptive words – choose a bunch of words relevant to what you are shopping for such as leather, cotton, handmade.

Well I hope this is useful for someone. Really I just wanted an excuse to write about shopping so I can document some of our less than absolutely necessary necessities. A handbag for me and a jumper for Simon.


2 thoughts on “Shopping

  1. I remember doing this in China when I was helping a friend move to Shanghai! Neither of us had a prayer of speaking or reading Chinese, so we tried to mime everything. It is not easy to try to explain “not too soft” and “not too hard” for pillows using hand motions! We still laugh about trying though. 🙂

  2. Hey Simone, just saw your latest posts, sorry I haven’t been reading my WordPress Reader lately so I missed these. So good to hear the stories and see your photos. Like the Instagram affect. The neighbourhood looks nice. Congrat’s on getting a decaf!

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