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Lanuage Barrier in Mendoza

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Siesta Key, Florida
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Lanuage Barrier in Mendoza

I am thinking of travleing to Mendoza in the next few months but am slightly concerned that I do not speak Spanish (there will also be an airline change in Chile). English and French have served me well traveling all across Europe but I do not know if I will encounter problems when I reach Mendoza (or when changing airlines in Santiago). Would someone be kind enough to help me with the ability to breach the language barrier? I live in the U.S.

Many Thanks!

Miami, Florida
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1. Re: Lanuage Barrier in Mendoza

Santiago is a very easy airport to Navigate -- especially if you are flying Lan Chile -- so have no worries.

Learning a few simple words of spanish will go a long way - I wouldn't have any fears about the language barrier in Mendoza -- and don't think of it as a barrier anyway.. just think of it as an adventure -- one that requires you to work on creative communication skills. You'll have a great time.

Buenos Aires
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2. Re: Lanuage Barrier in Mendoza

If you already speak French, it will be very easy for you to pick up rudimentary Spanish. You will recognise a lot of the latin roots common to both languages. When I was first here, I found that a lot of French spoken with a comedy Spanish accent actually worked a treat.. though I got the basics from the excellent Michel Thomas introductory Spanish course. There are loads of other audio-courses - get one now and listen to it a few times before you travel.

It really is easy to get started in Spanish and very rewarding. Good luck.

Lunenburg, Canada
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for Saint John, Foz do Iguacu, Iguazu National Park
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3. Re: Lanuage Barrier in Mendoza

Hi, Siesta Key!

We're two monoglot Anglos who survived quite well over three weeks in Argentina and Chile. We rented a car and drove, to be sure, but I've also flown in through Santiago Merino Airport.

In Chile, and in much of Argentina outside the Buenos Aires region, few people are fluent in English. Road signs are in Spanish, naturally, but a surprising number of restaurants offered English menus and a lot of bigger hotels had often bi-lingual correspondence. Not the hotel where stayed, though, on Peru Street in Mendoza, where no one knew a single word of English. (But we still got by.)

Here's what I would do.

- Get a Spanish grammar and learn a 100-word basic Spanish vocabulary. We were amazed at how much we could get across with 100 Spanish words. Don't worry about getting the pronouns to agree in number, gender and case. Argentina is filled with Spanish-speaking experts who will be happy to correct your mistakes for you. Just learn the raw words.

- Using internet radio, tune to the Voice of America, and listen to a few programs in what VOA calls Special English. Pay close attention, because this is how you'll be speaking to your Argentine hosts: slowly, clearly, enunciating all consonants, using no slang, employing international words where possible. It astonished me to find that when I did this, people who learned English only in high school could understand enough basic things for us to rent a car, book hotel rooms and order meals.

Living in Florida, you already know more Spanish than you think. (Think of the recorded voice over the phone that says "Prensa dos para el español"!) You'll be able to read a few basic words, and you probably already know the numbers from one to ten. You're already well on your way.

(For example, "siesta," as in Siesta Key, means a couple of hours around lunch time when a lot of the smaller stores close so that the merchant can go home for a rest.)

In airports, including Santiago Merino Airport, you won't have the slightest trouble. Airports are always multi-lingual, and have plenty of English speakers on hand. Depending on how you'll get around once you reach Mendoza, you may have English-speaking guides. But know that we got around for three weeks entirely on our own, by car, with no guide, no chauffeur and not even any clear idea of where we would end up from one night to the next, and found it quite do-able. And from Nova Scotia, Canada, we started with even less grounding in Spanish than you!

Happy travels, and let me know if I can help further!

David

capetien10@gmail.com

San Carlos de...
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4. Re: Lanuage Barrier in Mendoza

I lived in Mendoza province for two years. We call their dialect, "the Mendozan mumble". The words tend to be less separated. Suerte!

Siesta Key, Florida
8 posts
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5. Re: Lanuage Barrier in Mendoza

Many thanks to you all for your encouragement and advice. I feel much more confident that I will now be able to navigate on my own and finally see this beautiful city which I have read so much about.

I have gotten a latin american dictionary and common phrase book and will begin in earnest to study them.

I do not know how to get the Voice of America on my computer but will try a search for it.

I truly appreciate all your help!!

Debbie :-)

Lunenburg, Canada
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for Saint John, Foz do Iguacu, Iguazu National Park
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6. Re: Lanuage Barrier in Mendoza

Hi Debbie!

Here's a link for Voice of America programs in Special English.

www.voanews.com/specialenglish/index.cfm

This is how you should speak English in Argentina.

It's also the way you should speak Spanish! We found that our Anglo Spanish is difficult for native Spanish speakers to follow, if you whip off the words too fast. Always speak slowly and clearly

David

George Town, Grand...
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7. Re: Lanuage Barrier in Mendoza

All of these are great ideas. I just wanted to say that you should not let your fear of not speaking the language stop you from going to Mendoza--it is my new favorite place in the world! People are nice, wine is fabulous, scenery is beautiful and the ambiance is heavenly.

And while you will find that most people in Mendoza do not speak fluent English, there is a trend as the region grows more popular to international tourists for more people to speak a fair amount of English. If you learn some basics, you will be fine.

Enjoy your trip and good luck with your Spanish!

Scunthorpe, United...
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8. Re: Lanuage Barrier in Mendoza

Like others I would say relax. It isn't really a problem.

Airports are OK for reasons already given above.

Learn the basics of yes, no, please, thank you, greetings, farewells, numbers to 10.

A few essential phrases:

"I don't speak Spanish, I'm (nationality)." To be used at the start of every transaction after a greeting - and with a smile.

"I'm sorry, I don't understand."

"Where are the toilets?"

"More toilet paper, please"

For everything else point, wave hands, smile and carry a phrasebook with a dictionary in it.

We found that in small shops in the less touristed areas starting with "don't speak Spanish" usually led to a look of panic behind the counter which evaporated when we pointed at what we wanted and used numbers in Spanish or waved the appropriate number of fingers and ended with smiles all round.

Michael

Siesta Key, Florida
8 posts
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9. Re: Lanuage Barrier in Mendoza

Hi Michael;

I found your advice to be very helpful - and in places, humorously helpful.

I am trying to learn a bit of basic Spanish now and I will carry my phrase book and dictionary with me but I fully expect that there will also be a fair amount of gesturing and arm waving as well. The smiling part comes naturally. :-)

Thank you very much for your help!

Debbie

Siesta Key, Florida
8 posts
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10. Re: Lanuage Barrier in Mendoza

Hi David!

Thank you so much for your help and advice. I followed your link and listened to the way they spoke - slowly and distinctly. This is what I will do as well.

I most definitely will not come out with a rush of words in Spanish as I would likely trip over my own tongue, and the words would probably be wrong in any case. Conjugations are a complete mystery to me and my vocabulary you could fit in a thimble.

As Michael said, I will probably end up doing some gesturing and arm waving but I had expected that. I think a smile, a greeting and a "no habla espanol" should at least get me started.

I am a bit off the mark of my original question here, but this will be the first time I have ever traveled alone. Would you suggest booking through a local travel agent or through something like Trip Advisor online?

Many thanks for all your help! I hope you have a wonderful day...

Debbie :-)