Learning Local Lingo: Part Two

by Julie Schwietert May 14, 2008
Tips from Jared Romey and Matador Members

Last week, we featured Jared Romey, author of the local lingo guides, Speaking Boricua and Speaking Phrases Boricua.

As promised, we’re back with some tips from Romey about how you can pick up local lingo:

1. Read local newspapers: Not only will you learn what’s going on locally, you’ll learn what words people use to talk about what’s important to them.

2. Watch television: It doesn’t matter what you watch—the news, cartoons, soap operas or prime-time dramas, but by listening to TV programs, you’ll begin to develop an ear for the cadence and pronunciation that distinguish regional variations in language.

3. Listen to locals. As often as possible, talk with local people. Try out the language. Ask questions, Be sure to talk to people of all ages. Lingo is often generational.

4. Develop a deep understanding of the structure of the language. The more you grasp the formal mechanics of a language, the more prepared you’ll be to recognize and understand variations.

5. Remember that lingo is not static. Language is changing all the time. The lingo you learn today may be obsolete next week or next year.

Editor’s Note: In addition to Romey’s fantastic tips, we have a couple more.

*Don’t get frustrated with yourself: You may have an excellent mastery of the formalities of a language and feel totally out of your league, just as Romey did, when you visit or move to a new place and recognize how different the local brand of that language is. Be patient with yourself.

*Recognize that language has regional distinctions for various reasons: Local lingo is influenced by history, pop culture trends, and the degree of contact a country shares with other nations, among other factors. The more you learn about why the local lingo is the way it is, the more you’re likely to understand and enjoy it!

Community Connection: Matador member Christine Gilbert also offers some great tips for learning languages on her website.

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