On this sunny winter Sunday afternoon, I have the privilege of watching some Spanish television whilst the cute husband and the not-so-cute-today two red dogs are snoring and sleeping blissfully. As I am flicking through the channels, I hear the words “Patrick Sweis” and I for three seconds wonder “who the heck is that”, when I realise that is the way which the Spaniards pronounce Patrick Swayze. Since laughing by myself, alone, are in some countries considered a sign of being a crazy batty old lady who has 100 cats, I decided rather to put pen to paper.
When we arrived here, I soon realised that a large portion of the Spanish community believe that everyone in the world speaks Spanish. I now understand, why, since everything is translated in Spanish, movies, television shows, books, magazines, you name it. Trust me, it is very strange to see George Clooney drawling with a suspiciously young Spanish voice. And I do not for one second believe that the girls in Sex and the City (sorry, Sexo de Neuva York), are fluent Spanish speaking girls. I must also say, the Spaniard who installed our television looked at me like I was a freak alien when I asked if the channels have options for English - he promptly showed me how to get the “Version originale”, and seriously asked me, when the original version was French, if that is English. He was not joking.
As such, the locals struggled with both my husband’s and my name – my husband was known as “Enrique” or “Hi”, and me, well, I was “Mitchell” or “Mikele”. Sometimes I still am, to the locals. So there you go, it is completely irrelevant what your parents decided to put on your birth certificate. Your name will be Spanish.
I may just mention here that our surname is also impossible to pronounce here, and when it is pronounced, it sounds like “Angel” with a hard g.
So for the record, if SARS wants to find us to pay some obscure tax for foreign residents, good luck with that.
To truly comprehend the, which I now believe, conspiracy to make Spanish people think everyone else needs to learn to speak Spanish, no matter where they live, listen to this story: I was told a while ago by a friend, who was born in South Africa but has been living in Spain for many years, that Spanish people who lived in South Africa, had to register their children at the Spanish Embassy in Pretoria. There was apparently a Hitler type woman working there that, no matter what you named your child, she would change the name to a Spanish name on the Spanish documents, for example, “George” would be “Gorge” (again with the hard g) and “Hendrik” would be “Enrique” and so on and so forth. Therefore, these children had a South African name and a Spanish name. This story is so bizarre; you have no choice but to have another glass of wine.
Then again, I experienced the other side of the coin: a very common name in Spain is “Jesus”, pronounced “Gesus”, (with a hard g) not the Bible way. When we moved here, the Spanish moving company had a gentleman communicating with us, and his name was “Jesus”. When I got back to South Africa, I received a phone call from the South African agent, who kept talking to me about “Jesus” (the Bible pronunciation) and for the life of me I could not figure out why this man who I did not know from a bar of soap, was talking to me about his religious beliefs. It was only after a couple of minutes that I figured out he was talking about the gentleman from the Spanish company.
So there, according to the Spaniards, the whole world speaks Spanish, you have a Spanish name, which is your true name sorry for your parents, and people mispronounce names all the time, however, I am quite happy being called Michele, thanks, and I am married to Hein, not Enrique or some other weirdo Spaniard.