La economía de las palabras

We were told Granadans have a reputation around Spain for being rude. To be sure, at first glance (or first listen), they may not say much to you.

Turns out, it’s not rudeness; it’s that they are very economical in word usage.

  • Greetings are often just “Buenos,” assuming you can tell if they mean Diaz (morning) or Tardes (afternoon) by the sun’s position on your own.
  • Goodbyes can be merely “Hasta;” who knows when we will see each other again?

The ubiquitous response to “Hablas Ingles?” (“Do you speak English?”) is “A little,” which, in Granada, narrows it down to somewhere from that phrase being all they know, to their having studied English for years and already can tell by the inflexion in your voice you don’t use the Oxford comma when listing things.

Then there’s the all-purpose word, “Vale.” It can mean anything from “OK,” to “Yes!”, to “We’re done here.” I have seen conversations for minutes where one person just repeats it and still holds up their end of the conversation, like “I am Groot” but 67% more efficient.

Still, the best example so far was when Jiab and I walked into a cafe for lunch. As we entered, a waiter turned and looked at us. We waited for him to greet us or ask us how many. Instead, he stared for what seemed like a full minute and then said, “Well, what do you want?” If they hadn’t had a great menu del dia (daily lunch special), we would have walked out.

Turns out we were lucky. By the end of the meal, he was making great recommendations of good wine to go with our cod in tomato/basil sauce as well as a sumptuous lesser-known local dessert. We explained we were relocating there and he was the first to welcome us to Granada and said to be sure to come back.

First lesson of Granada: when there’s good people and good food, don’t let words get in the way.

Vale.

2 thoughts on “La economía de las palabras”

    • I’m the opposite. I love hearing people’s stories (Jiab says that’s just an excuse to tell my own!). The Granadan way has been good for me to learn restraint (still working on it), plus I just love saying “vale” over and over. It’s like a Swiss army knife of words! Thanks for the feedback.

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