Sometimes when we are learning a new language, we are only a vowel sound or a correctly accented syllable away from being understood. Or worse yet, we can be understood perfectly, but not say what we intended to say. It is important for visitors in Mexico to remember that we might be speaking Spanish to someone for whom Spanish is a second language and that they might not be able to “make the leap” to what we are trying to say, when we are only a vowel sound away. Waiters, taxi drivers, and other service providers in a cosmopolitan town like San Miguel de Allende are used to hearing foreign accents and mispronunciations, but sometimes the further we get from cities the more difficult it can be to make ourselves understood.
Imagine being in a little pueblo off the beaten path and telling the young waitress in a family restaurant that you would like to order. “Quiero ordeñar,” you say, full of confidence in your ability to handle this situation. Confused, the young woman backs away from your table and rushes into the kitchen to tell her mother that there are a couple of Gringos who just came in and want to milk the goats!
Ordeñar: to milk
Ordenar: to order
How to ask for eggs in a market; and, how not to ask for eggs in a market. The next Gringoism will tell you!