When language and work style collide
It was hanging there, you see. A loose end. A roundabout sentence dangling mid-air, senseless, in this lyrical language I've learned to love.
I was working in my American working-way: direct, precise. Action oriented. Full of "who will do what and by when".
It all started when I noticed that some material a client and I had decided would be posted on the client's website after public release wasn't posted. My American side couldn't remember being told who had been assigned the job of posting it. My Spanish side longed for conversation, as she inevitably does mid-workday, so my naive typing finger wrote to ask.
All three of us had climbed directly into a castellano "who's on first".
Spanish has an oft-used passive voice, if you've yet to have the pleasure. A passive voice that is soft and subtle in literature. It's also annoying as hell in business.
"I was just wondering", I wrote to my client in Spanish. "How did we decide we'd post the new material on the site?"
"Well", came the calm and yes, lyrical reply, "it is supposed that it is made to arrive ("se hace llegar" ) to the programming team".
"But how does it get to the programmers?", I asked.
Within minutes Outlook was singing me the next verse: "It's made to arrive to the manager of the team, and she handles the responsibility of assigning the work."
"I know that", I replied, stepping every closer to the trip line, the eager net quivering above my head, anticipating a quick but gracefall fall. "But WHO makes it arrive? Doesn't someone have to prepare the text and send it to the manager?"
That's when the net fell.
"Am I the one who's supposed to do it?", I typed. "That's all I want to know."
The reply was immediate.
"What a spectacular idea! YOU do it, cariño. I'll let everyone know. Do you need anything else?"
We're sure this language wasn't designed simply to trap unassuming English speakers, aren't we?
I have this vision of the rest of the project team gathered round a bar table, full glasses in hand............toasting (absent) asesora me.
Oh, well. At least I've found an advantage to having an American on the team. Must be nice. So precise, those Americans.
Labels: on living in Spain