So you are going to Spain. You will order something more sophisticated than a 3 a.m. burrito. Mom will no longer be pestered to ‘pasa me those patatas.’ You make it on planes, trains and Skoda taxis with little more than ‘Paco es estudiante’. Finally in your undersized, overfurnitured residence, you click on the tube. Oh joy! Oh alegría! It’s a program called “Punto Pelota”, and it’s got a picture of a soccer ball on it!
But wait a minute. What the heck are they saying?
Television is perhaps the greatest test for the would-be Spanish-language learner. You can follow the news around your first-semester midterm. First, there is only one person talking. Second, there are pictures. Third, they tend to be pictures of people you know, or ought to know. So you can guess that the person talking is talking about the person in the picture, and you ought to know him. ¡Sí, entiendo!
The late-night talk show is an ego boost, too. The guy making funnies, and the hottie plugging her movie, and the weirdo with the animals. Even if you don’t get the jokes, you get that the jokes are funny, because the bandleader laughs. And everyone is too busy wondering how the hottie is going to sit down in her short skirt without flashing the audience to follow the jokes anyway.
But “Punto Pelota” is different. You should get it, because you are a knowledgeable and dedicated football fan. You have three chapters of ¡Let’s Speak Español! memorized. And the guy in the picture? That Mourinho person? You blog about him every week! But you don’t follow. Never fear, for SoMaestra is here to guide you through the Spanish Soccer Program in Five Easy Steps!
1. Do not attempt to follow the conversation. This is not a conversation; it’s a gabmatch. A bunch of people talking and gesticulating excitedly without any meaningful exchange of information. Kind of like being around real Spanish people, but all of them are now crammed into your four-square meter flat with you.
2. Do not attempt to follow just one person. Remember, he’s not talking to anyone. He’s talking in the presence of other people talking. And if you do manage to catch what he says, you will hear something like this:
Pero … (But)
Sí, vale, es que … (Yeah, o.k., it’s just that)
¿Me dejas decir algo? (Would you let me say something?)
Señores, centrémonos en el tema, por favor … (Gentlemen, let’s stay on topic, please)
You might as well jump in there with your insightful ‘Paco es estudiante‘.
On second thought, just mute the volume.
3. Look at the props. The best way to tell what kind of show you are watching is to consider the items scattered about: newspapers (political programs), onions (cooking segments) and so on. “Punto Pelota” has soccer balls rolling about under the chairs. No, they do not scrimmage during commercials. The balls are there to tell you that these people are gabbing about something soccer-related.
4. Look at the pictures. Kind of like the news, these are pictures of people you know, or ought to know. You know that guy in the video, right? Okay, so they’re all gabbing about him. Or were. Or are trying to. But it doesn’t really matter. He inspires that kind of senseless noisy gabbing wherever he goes anyway.
5. Read the text messages. You can text pretty much any kind of Spanish program and your message will appear on the bottom of the screen. Spanish people love to text their television shows. And they favor phonetics over acronyms, so if you read the letters aloud, you can figure out what everyone is saying. If not, however, rest assured they are communicating one of the following ideas:
a. The program is biased.
m. 0:04: ‘Los periodistas de barcelona defienden mas al barcelona’ (The Barcelona journalists always defend FC Barcelona).
b. The referee was biased.
m. 0:16: ‘El albitro este fue comprado’ (The referee was bribed).
Also m. 1:04, 2:08, 2:16 and 3:06.
c. Everyone should be talking about someone else.
m. 0:33: ‘Poner por favor el teatro de cristiano’ (Talk about Cristiano).
m. 2:57: ‘Por k no ablais de empujom de inzagi’ (Talk about Inzagi)
m. 0:40: ‘Casillas sale triste’ (Talk about Casillas); also m. 049 and 3:48.
d. Commenting on the commentators.
m. 2:00: ‘Carme sta cada dia mas wapa’ (Carmen gets prettier every day)
m. 3:37: ‘Roncero grande viva punto pelota craks’ (Roncero’s great Punto Pelota rocks)
e. Sending a ‘shout-out’ to a love-interest who may be watching.
m. 2:34: ‘Irene guapa’ (Irene, you beauty!)
As you can see, you Spanish-soccer-program-watching-person you, all you have to do is mute the volume, ignore the commentators, look at the props and read the texts to understand how much everybody is not talking about the guy in the photos!