Thursday, August 23, 2007

CNN is missing in action

My cable provider, Megacable, seems to have a lot of problems keeping CNN on the air. Maybe the outage today is related to our little hurricane that blew through here yesterday, but CNN has been off the cable more times than I like. And then at other times the signal was just really bad, almost unwatchable. I suppose I could call Megacable, but if you think talking to a cable company back in the states is frustrating, just try talking to a Mexican cable company in pidgin Spanish. In a way though, the conversational experience is good. I usually have to get the person on the other end to say everything twice, and I have to make at least that many attempts when I speak. We get more practice this way.

Digression. Here in Mexico, if you are having an exchange and you don't understand something, it is considered impolite, or at least gauché, to just blurt out: what? In Spanish that would be: como? No, the correct rejoinder to a string of Spanish you didn't understand is: mandé? This translates roughly to: at your service (being a conjugation of the verb mandar). The meaning is: will you say again?

There are just so many conversational traps relating to culture you have to learn. I like, mandé, and I seem to use it a lot. Sometimes to keep from sounding like a mindless robot I throw in: no entendí, which translates to: I don't understand.

For your edification and enjoyment, I have included access to the google language translator on this blog. Take a look at the right hand column. If you search for mandé you will not get the full story from this little translator. For example, the fact that the custom of using this expression is only common in Mexico and that it dates back to the days of the aristocracy in Spain.

Now that's a thought -- talking to the cable company as though they were aristocrats. Just goes to show how far the Mexicans will go to be polite.