Monday, May 08, 2006

¿Quién habla?

Now that I've gotten over my fear of speaking spanish on the phone, it's becoming kind of fun.

I was reading a whole discourse recently on one of the message boards about Mexican phone ettiquette, and how some folks who have moved there perceive people as being impolite. That's because when someone calls your house, or even your business, they don't ask "May I speak with Cathi?", like we do here in the USA. They ask "¿Quién habla?" ("who is speaking?") right off the bat of whoever answers the phone.

The board (bored?) people were discussing how they get offended, refuse to give their name, and have a stupid never-ending conversation when someone calls them.

¿Quién habla?
Yo hablo. ¿Quién habla?
José, ¿con quién habla?
Usted me llamó.
Sí, ¿quién habla?
and on and on.....

in english----> (not a literal translation)
Who's this?
It's me. Who is this?
It's José, who is this?
You called me.
Right, who is this?

I mean, what's the point? They aren't going to change society, so if you live in Mexico, why not just go with the flow? I never really thought about it being impolite, I just always accepted that's the way it is. When someone calls, they ask who you are when you pick up the phone. And you answer the question. As the saying goes, when in Rome....

So, when I called Gerardo today, (to find out where my long-lost shipment is, but that's a blog for another day) the first thing I said when they picked up the phone was ¿Quién habla? I felt very Mexican. And anyway, my mom always told me never to begin the conversation that way when I called someone, so I also get to feel a little rebellious and enjoy being able to say that when I call people. (hey, I have to get my kicks wherever I can, right? haha)


1 comment:

JJ said...

Ha! I have to agree with you. I think I read the same posts on the same message board, because my feeling was (after reading it), I don't get it - you live in Mexico, just go with it. I had people phoning me all the time who did just that - so I did it right back at them ~ never offended me, never offended them!