Juan of Words

Ask Juan: Is It Possible To Speak Spanish Quietly?

is it possible to speak spanish quietly juanofwords
Like our cultura, our language is a celebration.

So the other day I just happened to overhear this conversation.  Believe it or not, I wasn’t even trying to listen.  My Metiche tendencies have very purposely been subdued over the past couple of months.  Okay, okay… so not really.  I’ve just been kind of too busy to be as chismoso as usual.  I promise to change that.  I promise!  De cualquier manera at the end of the conversation, which was the only part that I really caught, one person leaned over and asked their lunch partner this question.  They sounded sincerely curious and since I had not caught the beginning part of their conversation I immediately decided it wasn’t even worth getting worked up about.  But the question did pique my curiosity.

Is its possible to speak Spanish quietly?

Now granted the people speaking Spanish in the room were speaking quite loudly.  They were four young people, two men and two women, chilangos or regios from what I could make out, and they were carrying on about some of their friends or acquaintances that had been at some type of event with them recently.  The jokes were flowing, as were the carcajadas, and well, I just gotta tell you, some of their cracks (mostly about their friends or acquaintances who weren’t there) were actually kind of funny.  That’s one of the things I do when eating alone in public places, observe and listen to anything interesting that’s taking place around me.  Hence the metiche part of my personality.  Come to think of it, I think I was chuckling quite loudly, at one point even turning around to smile at them and let them know that I was a Spanish-speaker too and was enjoying their banter.

That’s probably why the pair of curious lunch mates on my other side had all but completely gone unnoticed until they got up to leave and asked that question.

In that moment, when I overheard the question, my eyebrows went up, my eye balls kind of rolled back a little bit.  Their question didn’t really offend me, but in some way it seemed very inappropriate.  Later that day and in the ones after, that’s when my mind seriously began to obsess over the question.  I know, it is possible to speak Spanish quietly.  People tend to think everyone in my family is completely soft spoken.  I guess we are, mostly when we’re speaking English though.  When we use our native Spanish, for some reason, it always seems we can’t help but to raise the volume in our voices too.  I know plenty of others as well who are not as soft spoken in English as we are and who are WAY louder in Spanish.  I mean WAY LOUDER!

Why is that?  I wondered.

Then a thought raced into my mind.  Of course we speak Spanish more loudly!  Like our Latino culturas, our language is all about celebration.  We’re celebrating the fact that we have preserved our language over so many generations.  We’re celebrating the fact that so many of us, across the globe, and across so many borders can speak the same language.  We’re celebrating like that Gloria Estefan song that says hablemos el mismo idioma, dame la mano mi hermano.  Or maybe it’s just the fact that there are so many more words in the romanticism of el español.  Whatever the case, I now had the answer to this stranger’s question.

No.  It’s not possible to speak Spanish quietly.  And even if it were, we wouldn’t want to anyway!

What do you think?  Do you speak more loudly in Spanish?  Why do you think so many of us do?  I’d love to read your perspective on the subject.

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