February 19th, 2010

Recent Me

Spanish phrases for English call-center workers

I'm putting together a quick pronunciation guide for (monolingual English-speaking) call-center workers who need to give telephone numbers to monolingual or mostly-monolingual Spanish-speaking callers.

Does this look about sane, assuming the call-center workers speak with some form of American accent, and the callers speak American Spanish?

Do you speak English? - Ah-blah Ing-layz?
I'm sorry, I don't speak Spanish. - Loh see-en-toh, no ah-bloh Eh-span-yol.

0 - say-ro
1 - ooh-no
2 - doss
3 - tress
4 - kwa-tro
5 - sink-o
6 - sayss
7 - see-ett-eh
8 - oh-choh
9 - noo-eh-beh

I'm not looking to teach a perfect Spanish accent here, but just to make something that should be more understandable than English numbers.

Oh, and to make this a proper "how do you say" post, how do you say "Please call ..." or whatever the appropriate phrase would be to let the caller know that what follows is the phone number they need to call?

EDIT: Here's the version in progress, based on the comments below.

Tip: Grammar gender associated to countries in Spanish

Spanish can be tricky to get some genders. Such is the case of countries. When is a country "masculine" or when is it "feminine"?

While practically all cities are feminine (because you can think "la ciudad de ..."), countries (and small villages) have variable gender.

I was listening to the radio this morning and they had checked the RAE for what's the correct way to assign a grammar gender to a country since this is not only difficult for foreign students, but it's also that some Spaniards have trouble with.

Good news, as there is a regular rule: if the word ends in non-stressed -a, use femine; otherwise use masculine.

Then you have to remember which countries use customary articles* (remarkably, certain media such as El País are phasing out those articles in their style book), but for this example I will use an adjective.


Toda Francia
Toda Italia
Toda Inglaterra
Toda India
Toda Nigeria
Toda Suráfrica
Toda Argentina

Todo el Reino Unido
Todo Panamá
Todo Estados Unidos (if you said "Todos los Estados Unidos", you'd mean Each state in the USA)
Todo Canadá
Todo Chile
Todo Egipto

* Examples: La India, El Reino Unido, El Canadá, Los Estados Unidos, El Salvador

Is there a similar rule for other languages?

French film

Does anyone have any idea where I could find English-language subtitles for the French film "L'Heure Zéro"? It's an adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Towards Zero" which I saw at a film festival last year and loved, but the only versions out there - legal and "fallen off the back of a truck" - appear to be solely in French with no subtitles.