I put a tweet out today asking for suggestions for today’s letter – the letter V. But because this is a family type blog – ish, I did say that vaginas need not apply. Oops! I’ve just lost as least one reader with that word: my sister. She can’t bear to hear it you see. Or penis for that matter.
Anyway, after careful consideration, and bearing in mind that this may be my only opportunity outside of giving birth again (even I wouldn’t get up the duff just for the sake of a blog post… that would be a wrong reason, right?), I feel that I can legitimately squeeze a blog post out of Vagina by using ‘the Spanish angle’ as my shoehorn.
Is that a pretty enough image for you? Than I shall carry on.
As you may or may not know, in Spanish, b and v are pronounced the same. There is a little more to it than that I think, but essentially there no v sound. So vino is beeno, virgen is beerhen* and vagina is baheena*.
And my point? Not a lot really. Mainly I am trying to fill blog inches, but I also mention it because it could be of interest to una Inglesa (English woman) out there, who might be newly pregnant, new to the country and new to the language. This is how it was for me when we first arrived in Spain. And yes, I did on one occasion have to suffer the indignity of having a ‘medical professional’ say the following to me over and over:
“¿Baheena? Baheena. BAHEENA. ¡DIOS MIO! !BAHEENA BAHEENA! ¿No sabes baheena?”
Oh yes, I can laugh now. But not then. Then, it all felt so very serious. This was the first trimester of my first pregnancy. What the hell was I doing in Spain so far away from my mum anyway? I couldn’t seem to get my ear around the different Spanish sounds and the pace of conversation didn’t generally allow time for the processing of individual words, even if the subject matter should have given me a clue. My face must have been a picture – the great dawn of realisation – when the baheena penny finally dropped.
In a very different, but similar, conversation with a Spanish friend, I was able to at least laugh at the time. I think we were talking about Semana Santa (Easter week) and the bringing out of the beerhen from the church to join the procession. My response went something like this:
“¿Beerhen? ¿Que significa beerhen? Beerhen. Ahhhh. Sí. Entiendo. VIR-GIN.”
My ear is a little better trained now and I understand a lot more of what I hear. But, if I am having a bad day, maybe if I am tired, simple words can completely flummox me. Something that I can grasp and respond to one day will elude me the next. But on a good day, when the beerhens and baheenas are behaving themselves, it feels great to be learning and communicating even at my level.
Any other funnies from expats out there to add to my baheena? Whatever language you are working with, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, English… I would love to hear them.
* and g is pronounced h. Not always but often.