A teensy weensy bit of bragging

There’s a time for everything under the sun. A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to be silent and a time to speak, and so on and so forth. And, I would add, a time to be humble and a time to pat yourself on the back for your accomplishments. I usually operate in humble, modest, mousy mode, but I also take a great amount of healthy pride in what I’ve achieved and I don’t apologize for that. So, with that out of the way, I am now going to toot my own horn.

Today at work, a patient asked me completely out of the blue if I was Colombian. I hadn’t mentioned anything about Colombia to him, nor had I shared any personal details about myself. This exact same thing happened a few months back. (That time, the guy turned to me and said, Eres colombiana, ¿verdad?) As my friend Anna Laura would describe it, a total shot in the arm. On cloud nine, I blushed furiously and couldn’t hold back a huge, dopey grin. If you ever wondered about the way to my heart, by the way, this is it. Well, this and poetry and long hair.


Not that I have any desire to be Colombian, not that I could ever have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a Colombian to think I was one of them, not that my Spanish is anywhere close to perfect. But, still. It’s good enough that many people listen to me and immediately think of Colombia. Whenever my patients ask me where I’m from, I’ll turn the tables and ask them to tell me where they think I’m from. And every single time, they say Colombia. When I tell them that I’m from here, they then immediately ask me where my family is from, insistent that I must be a first-generation immigrant from a Hispanic family. This despite looking very “American.” (Actually, everyone and their mother thinks I look Russian, but that’s another story.) I have to admit, it feels pretty damn good. All is not lost, after all! In spite of everything, it hasn’t all been in vain. There are a bajillion things I don’t know, and I feel like I’ll never know as much as I’d like to/I should/that girl or guy does, but it’s good enough to impress and fool a whole lot of people. So incredibly motivating! Believe me, I’m not one to sit back and rest on my laurels. Blogging about your laurels from time to time, though, has to be psychologically healthy. So, done.

Of course, there are comments out there that totally top this one. For instance, being able to fool people into thinking that you were from wherever they were from. All 21 Spanish-speaking countries–¡pues imagínate! Or having someone make this comment not mere minutes after meeting you but after hours of talking with you. Direct compliments on your Spanish are nice as well, but after a certain point it’s better not to get compliments–it means you’re blending in. It can also be difficult to judge how sincere people are when they pay you compliments. Lots of people just want to be nice and boost your morale.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received on your Spanish? Are you good at celebrating your successes and progress? What compliment do you dream of receiving? What country would you love for people to think you were from? What city? Leave your modestia aparte and brag, people, brag. Let’s celebrate our triumphs together. If not here, where?

10 responses to “A teensy weensy bit of bragging

  1. Many people think I’m from PR after hearing my Spanish. It is a good feeling!


  2. I don’t think my accent screams Mexican, Dominican or anything else, but I have been accused of being from Panama, Cuba, and even Mexico once.

    It happens a lot more than I would have thought. And they are really surprised when I tell them I’m just a regular old American that learned Spanish in my free time.


    • Nice! Haha, “accused.” Yes, I’m sure people are amazed at your dedication and the incredible breadth you have in regards to your Spanish. (I think I have more depth, obviously concentrating on Colombia, whereas you know a lot from many different places.)

      Today a Mexican couple asked me if I was from Mexico. I just had to laugh. I mean, seriously? Come on :)


  3. In my furious quest not to lose my “ceceo” I keep practicing my Spanish accent and last night in my spanish conversation group, I was complemented on how I didn’t sound like an Australian..Although in comparison to some of the strine have heard around here, it may not have been that complementary..


    • “Furious quest”– see, you guys are my kind of people! I love everyone’s seriousness and emotions :)

      That is so good that you’re always practicing your accent! Use it or lose it, baby. Don’t we all know that. That’s so nice to know that you don’t sound Australian. I really like the Spanish accent, although I imagine there are many. And thanks for teaching me the word Strine!


  4. most people think that i’m mexican, when really I’m tejana. It makes sense because all my life i’ve been in mexico a lot with family and friends. Unless they hear me long enough for some fierce spanglish to slip into my speech. Then they know I’m U.S.-raised at least!

    I also worked in the DR for a while, so i can do a pretty good dominican accent. It drives my husband up a wall, he hates all the dropped sounds! He gets me back by speaking to me in an overdone peninsular accent, which is definitely not my favorite.


    • Hahaha. I’m sure there are advantages at times of being able to camouflage. I’d love to learn to imitate more accents (even to just be able to maintain it for 30 seconds or so) not to try to fool anyone but just to have fun!

      Great to hear from you, Grace.


  5. My accent is a mess, and is different depending on how sober I am. I used to try to mimic my European teacher, but in grad school I made a bet with a friend that we couldn’t switch accents; that’s the last time I did any kind of ceceo. I hung out with caribeños and sevillanos back in grad school, and when I started working with mexas, they said I sounded like Miami. Then when I moved to New York, the dominicanos said I sounded Mexican. At this point I’ve quit worrying about my accent in Spanish. I’m told I get more costeño the more I drink. I’m pretty sure my accent is closer to Mexican when I’m in the classroom, because dropping an /s/ here and there would explode my students’ brains.

    When I speak Chinese I’ve been told I sound like an angry shanghainese shopkeeper; a shanghainese friend once had a carefrontation with me… “Jp, you sound very…. *colloquial.*” In French I used to have a southern French accent, but I think that has faded away. In Italian I used to have a strong Roman accent, but now when I speak Italian (once in a blue moon), all I hear is… filipino immigrant. Although, an Italian lady once told me that she could still hear Rome in my speech.


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