Scribbler in Seville

´Cultural differences´

This widely used (and abused) expression can cover pretty much any part of life – social, religious, relationships, families, work, local customs – and is frequently used to explain and excuse disagreements – well, in my experience, anyway!

For me, it´s about different expectations – if your media naranja (other half, literally ‘half orange’) says he´ll be back in half an hour, you expect to see him walk through the door in about 30 – 40 minutes; 45, tops. But that´s simply not the case in Spain, and especially Andalucia. My MN actually admitted to me once that he doesn’t consider ‘half and hour’ and ´30 minutes´to be the same. Hence, my irritation when a half-hour trip to the bar, or the DIY store, takes about two hours. After nearly five years, I´m still not used to this – still the uptight, time-obsessed ‘guiri’ (foreigner).

Now there´s another interesting point – the word `guiri`, which means foreigner. But as with other such words, it´s not just the meaning, it´s the implications behind it. By some (mostly the object of the word) it´s considered insulting in the same way as ´daygo´ would be, if anyone still says that. Here is one definition: ´a plainly obvious foreigner that is subject to ridicule`.

But when some people use it, they claim it doesn´t have negative implications – ´a derogatory term for a foreigner, but which can often be used affectionately´, is how another blogger describes it. Here is a perfect example – at my son´s end-of-term nursery fancy dress party, less-than-supermummy couldn´t be arsed to get him a Spiderman outfit, so he sported a Hawaiian shirt, sunglasses and flowers round his neck. When his teacher saw him, she said how gorgeous he looked, and exclaimed ´¡Mira! ¡Mira el guiri!´ I don´t really believe they were trying to insult a small boy.  So I guess it depends on who is using the word, and the context in which they´re using it.

Here are some of the classic baby/children ´cultural differences´:

* all baby equipment colour-co-ordinated- pram cover, bows in hair and on bootes – in blue or pink
* piercing little girls´ ears a few days after they´re born
* dressing little boys in knickerbockers with braces, checked shirts and burgundy knee-length socks.

What about social cultural differences? Well, if you invite someone to a party or a barbeque, don´t expect to reply. And if they accept, don´t expect them to come. And if they turn up, don´t expect it to be within a couple of hours of the stated time. 

2 thoughts on “´Cultural differences´

  1. Bibsey Mama

    … re: the piercing of little girls’ ears. My friend and I marvel at how our little girls could be head-to-toe in pink-pinky-pink, with bows on top, but will still be ‘guapo’ because they do not have their ears pierced – as if this is the only reliable indication of a child’s sex. Not that it matters terribly at this stage…

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