I have gotten a lot of compliments about how well I speak Spanish. I’ve heard “You cant even hear an accent” and “You lived all your life in the states, how do you still speak Spanish?” a lot. I usually go through a whole story about how I made an extra effort to not lose my Spanish while growing up. I would mention that I got made fun of while taking Spanish classes in High School and in college for majoring in Spanish. My friends would make comments like “haha, why are you taking Spanish classes? you already speak it”. Not only did speaking at home help me but these classes did as well and as many of you that have taken foreign language courses know you will at one point have to watch a movie in that language. Many that have taken Spanish classes have seen classics like Como Agua para Chocolate, Atame and Amores Perros but not many have seen Nueve Reinas.
I cant remember exactly when it was the first time that I saw the movie Nueve Reinas. It could have been during my Spanish for native speakers class in High School, but my memory leans more towards one of my courses in College. One of the first things that I remember about that experience was that I loved the movie. In general I love watching all kinds of foreign films, wether they are in Spanish, German or Japanese. For me its a way to get a little taste of that culture, so Nueve Reinas represented that for me in that it gave me a little taste of the Argentine culture.
While watching Nueve Reinas the obvious part that stood was the difference in dialect and accent that is found between the Argentine Spanish and Mexican Spanish. The way they the yesimo is used is so prevalent that most people default to make fun of Argentinos making an exaggeratepronunciation of words like lluvia, llano, llamo or calle. In Nueve Reinas you will find this and its for good reason, it is after all a movie about a pair of thieves in Buenos Aires. Apart from the this difference standing out to me I remember mostly focusing on the movie itself and enjoying it for what it was.
This past weekend out of the blue I decided to give it another watch and boy was I in for a treat. This time around I was able to geek out even more about a foreign film then ever before. It is amazing the little nuances that you pick up in a movie once you’ve had the time to learn some of slang of a country or language. In these past two months while living in Buenos Aires I have either learned through experience or been thought the meaning of lucas (1000 pesos) and mangos (pesos). When in the first 5 minutes of Nueve Reinas the the main characters Juan and Gaston start talking money and threw those two terms out I felt a big smile come to my face. I don’t remember knowing what this was the first time around but now it was like a eureka moment.
From that moment on it was like I was on a treasure hunt. I watched the movie with a new set of eyes and I started to see all these little examples that are very “Buenos Aires”. Things like seeing a black taxi and the little doorbell buttons out side of apartment buildings as the guys walked around where now so obvious to me and they stood out like a sore thumb. This time around I laughed when the said “en pedo”, “quilombo”, “gita” and “chorros” these words now had a whole new meaning for me and the dialect made more sense. The feeling I got after Juan mentions the province of Entre Rios was amazing as I right away knew what he was referring to since I had just driven by there a few weekends ago.
After two months here, its fun to know that im picking up these little lunfardos argentinos and that this experience is enriching my knowledge of the world and it is at least letting me enjoy one of my favorite movies with a whole new set of eyes. If you have a favorite foreign film and want enjoy it that much more i highly recommend re-watching it again after spending some time there and getting to understand a little bit more of that culture. You will have a new appreciation for it.