One of the main reasons why I started writing this blog (read blog in a large sense) was identity. Spanish is part of mine and coming back to Colombia from being a Spanish assistant in a lycée in France, which is a support teacher of Spanish in a high school, I realized I didn’t speak the Spanish I was expected to speak. Now, funnily I write this entry in English so more people can read it.
As I said, language was an issue. I was speaking a Spanish my collegues were not familiar with and neither were my students. And as I tried to understand why it was like that, I realized it was distance. Spain is closer to France so the Spanish from Spain was the one being taught. Colombia, an almost unknown country placed south Mexico by many people I asked to take a guess on where I came from, was too distant for some French to know about it,( except of course for Ingrid Betancourt) or to know about the kind of Spanish people like me spoke there. The same happened with English, the English they taught was british.
I had a period of adjustment trying to convince myself that the “Latin American” Spanish and culture had a lot to offer too. I brought to my Spanish classes poems from Neruda and Benedetti. They spoke using “vos” and I use it too and people from my city and most of Central America as well. I tried to use the quantitative argument: “We are majority speaking another Spanish different to that of Spain, thus our way to speak should be also taken into account”. Aren’t we part of the millions of people increasing the amount of speakers the Spanish are so proud to recall? Then I realized it was all a political and cultural game and the distance didn’t help either. Spain has a better cultural and political reputation than all our Latin American countries. Spain is closer to Europe and many Europeans spend their vacations there so they want to communicate in Spanish (from Spain). I finally got it. We have to become a stronger force to be able to affect positively the DRAE (Dictionnary of the Real Academic of eSpanish), and we have to become a more attractive vacation destination and show our cultural influence.
And then I remember, my conclusion was, you can’t talk about a Latin American Spanish. It is not as simple. Mexicans for example, do not “vosean” and Equatorians and Peruvians either. And in Colombia, only Paisas and Caleños do. Lexical terms vary from a country to another and among regions inside coutries too. But I still believe we have a lot to offer to the Spanish being taught in Europe and I’ll find out a way to contribute to the recognition of our cultural and linguistic heritage in a wider way in Europe.A video of "mi rostro de vos" a poem from Benedetti. It starts from the 2:00 min. Also a great web site with the poems being recited "palabra virtual" with the same poem.