Learn Spanish with Por Vida

Learn Spanish with Por Vida

Having a character speak Spanish is always a dicey situation for me. On one hand, I'd love for Hispanic characters to speak their native languages when appropriate or necessary. On the other hand, I don't speak Spanish, and when I try to, people laugh at me. But did that stop me from having some characters speak Spanish? Of course not! I'm also not a hacker, beautiful actress, cipher den leader, or CEO of an international conglomerate, but I still write characters who are.

That's not to say I don't take it seriously, though. Whenever I use even the simplest utterances of a foreign language, I run it by Google and a human who speaks it fluently. I'm not just making it up as I go along. Yes, I am stealing a lot of it from Blood In Blood Out, but I'm pretty sure they did their research.

Now, I don't mind a negative review, but sometimes it makes me wonder how other people read.

This review made me think of Lolita, which contains a good amount of French. What I couldn't infer from context clues, I simply looked up on Google Translate. I admit, sometimes that was tedious, but to me it always felt like part of the process. Later, I would get a copy of The Annotated Lolita, which contains all the translations in the back, and that was really helpful. However, I can't believe I would include more Spanish in Por Vida than Nabokov included French in Lolita.

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm asking too much of my readers.

Oye hermano, I’m shipping out today. This will probably be the last message you ever get from me. I’ve attached a picture for you to use in my obituary. Please don’t touch yourself to it. Or if you do, please make it short. If I don’t make it back, tell my mother I love her. Don’t forget while you’re sitting in your cozy, air-conditioned office that your best friend is out there somewhere in the world kicking ass. How fucking baddass is that? I knew this would happen someday, just like I knew you would pussy out. I don’t blame you though. We all gotta play our parts. Cuídate, hermano. Por vida, para siempre. -Raf

Despite disagreeing with the above review, I have cut back on Spanish in my books. It makes all my hard work in Duolingo irrelevant, but I guess I'd rather have readers engage with the story more than spend time looking up simple Spanish phrases. At least for the reviewer above, it was too much work and not worth the effort, which is a bummer, because I still count Por Vida as one of the most insane stories I've ever written.

... and the badge to prove it.

You've won this round, random reviewer!