January 2, 2011

Plaça del Pi, Barcelona. March, 1995

After an all-night train ride from Sevilla in a sleeping compartment with three Spaniards (“Fiesta!”) and one Swiss German (“Turn out the light. Time to sleep!”), Jay and I pulled into Barcelona, the last stop on our two-week Spanish vacation. Emerging from the metro onto the leafy Ramblas, we found ourselves literally in the midst of a parade of giant papier maché heads, held aloft over billowing cloth bodies, all of them drifting magically through the warm, sun-dotted Sunday morning. We made our way to the Hotel Jardí, checked in, then headed to the nearby Bar del Pi for some much-needed coffee. I listened to how the regulars were ordering and decided to emulate their slang. “Do’ con leche,” I said. Jay, ever the linguistic purist, made a face of amused disapproval, a face we joke about to this day. The coffee was terrific, and so was the Bar del Pi, our new local.


  1. Lovely photo. Love those headdresses. Yours is taller than his!

  2. Com'e si dice fantastico?!

    Sandro, splendid way to ring in the New Year.
    Bravissimo, caro!


    Chaka C.

  3. For your peace of mind, I am sure that Cervantes would have used Spanish in a similar way.

    "[Sirvame] dos [cafes] con leche", omitting the verb and the noun, is a perfectly correct use of spoken Spanish, and an advanced one at that --language than non-natives may not have mastered.

    Next trip you can try:

    * "Dos [cafes] cortados!" -- that's espresso with a tiny bit of milk, hence the qualification of "cortado"

    * "Dos [cafes] solos!" --espresso by itself, with sugar; just be ready to be knocked wide awake for several hours

    * "Dos [bocadillos] de jamon! --make sure you don't miss this one

    Not even "do'" (pronounced similar to "doh"), instead of "dos", is slang but, rather, a pronunciation characteristic of andalusian or Extremadura's dialects of Spanish. At some point, there were many emigrants from the south going to other regions of Spain like Castilia or Catalonia, and taking "low-skill" jobs, such as construction work or waiters and coffeeshop/bar tenders. Anyone going for a coffee would know they would most likely hear
    "do' " instead of "dos".

    So, Jay can hear you with confidence during your next trip: your Spanish is truly authentic and multiregional.



  4. Regina: HI! I'm so happy you know Sandy. It's great when fabulous people connect!

    XOXO David from Jackson Heights

  5. In you r honor, I'll be sure to check this pout and order do' con leche! Hopefully they won't look at me funny because I actually DO speak Spanish!