Choque Cultural/Culture Shock

Una de mis películas favoritas es Sugar (Azúcar), que tiene partes en español e inglés además de subtítulos en ambas lenguas. Miguel Santos, llamado “Sugar”, es un joven lanzador de la República Dominicana. Éste viaja a EEUU para jugar en las ligas menores de béisbol y vive un rato con una familia en el centro del país. Miguel lucha para sumegirse en esa extraña cultura como al mismo tiempo que él se siente la presión de saber que sólo si tiene éxito podrá rescatar a su familia. La película captura de maravilla el carácter (lo bueno y lo malo) de un pueblito americano y el choque de culturas entre los jugadores dominicanos y los vecinos de la localidad.

La experiencia de Dan, en la entrada pasada, me hace recordar de una escena de Sugar. La escena demuestra nuevamente los problemas de pedir la comida en un idioma nuevo y también ofrece un buen consejo sobre como usar el minibar y otros servicios del hotel. (Desafortunadamente, no puedo subir esta escena directamente de IMDb y así que necesitas hacer click  aquí.)

Sugar is one (bitter)sweet film. I recommend this movie on a regular basis, even to those who haven’t the slightest interest in either baseball or the Dominican Republic. It tells the story of Miguel “Sugar” Santos, a Dominican baseball player who moves from a development team in his home country to the minor leagues in the U.S. The first part, set in the Dominican Republic, is in Spanish with English subtitles. The film captures the beauty and difficulty of life in the D.R., shows the ticket to the good life that baseball promises, and portrays the cold-eyed business of US baseball teams that cherry-pick young men—boys, really—to win games for them and then abandon these kids when they don’t pan out. The second part, which focuses on Miguel’s experiences in the U.S., is primarily in English with the Spanish dialogue subtitled. The scenes of his stay with a baseball-loving midwestern family in which no one speaks Spanish are both funny and sad as Miguel struggles to acclimate to provincial attitudes while coming to grips with his prospects of making it to “the Show.”

Dan Curry’s experience (described in the previous post) placing a fast food order in his beginner’s Spanish reminded me one of my favorite scenes from Sugar.  As my friend Mark pointed out to me, sometimes ordering a meal in a foreign language is just a case of going with the flow and trusting your fellow man. It’s also wise to follow a friend’s advice about hotel minibars and pay-per-view. (Unfortunately, I can’t upload this scene directly from IMDb so you’ll have to click here).


One response to “Choque Cultural/Culture Shock

  1. You are right: it sounds like my kind of movie. I’d like to see it. Y después de la película podriamos comer algo. Algo dulce. Si la película no comienza tarde. Si la película no comienza tarde, después de la película podriamos comer algo dulce.

    (Sorry. You probably recognized Mr. Pimsleur. He wants to take control whenever I see or hear Spanish.)

    I’ve been reflecting on your Pimsleur posts and Sedaris suggesting that he would blurt out a complete (and completely inappropriate) passage, if he had learned it on Pimsleur. The phenomenon is not unlike what happens to well-prepared lawyers at oral argument. Arguments are stressful. The lawyers can’t take a break or pause for a few minutes to work out answers. There’s an audience that may be friendly or may be hostile. And the issues are usually hard to figure out.

    Nonetheless, despite the stress and with no time to think, lawyers often respond to questions from judges with answers that are intelligent and appear quite fluent.

    From the lawyer’s perspective, it’s an odd sensation. A judge asks me a question, and out of my mouth pour a couple of uncharacteristically intelligent and fluent paragraphs. I feel like a bystander.

    What’s going on is that those paragraphs (or parts of them) are bits of a long speech that I rehearsed before the argument. What pops out wasn’t necessarily a response to that precise question but it may nonetheless be responsive or be a good introduction while I think of an answer or serve as a conclusion to steer the answer back to the points I had planned on making.

    I’m pretty sure that the phenomenon — trigger followed by set piece — is not just something that happens after listening to language CDs or preparing for oral arguments. (Supposedly the Homeric poems are written in pentameter and contain many epithets to trigger and facilitate this appearance of fluency.)

    One thing that puzzles me is whether being programmed to blurt out blocks of speech, which isn’t all Pimsleur does but is a great part of it, is a good way to begin learning a language. It is undoubtedly confidence-building — Ira’s friend attempts to order a meal in Spanish after only a CD or two or three (and so have I) — and that’s good. And the constant use of “helping verb plus infinitive” is a useful foundation, I think. But when I see the word film and end up vaguely hitting on anyone around me, I wonder whether this Pimsleur

Whadya think? ¿Qué pienses?

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