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I am learning Spanish and am wondering if it would be appreciated or embarrassing to start up a conversation with a random stranger in Spanish.

Estoy aprendiendo español y quiero saber si seria apreciado o seria embarazoso para empezar una conversación con un extraño aleatoria en español.

Also for reference I am fluent enough to sustain a long but not too in depth conversation.

Thanks Gracias

  • Yo diría que depende el lugar y las circunstancias, por ejemplo no se vería raro entablar una conversación en un bar pero acercarte a un desconocido en la calle si, a no ser que haya una razón o pretexto, como pedirle direcciónes – Traveller Jun 30 '19 at 9:35
  • @Traveller - It might be technically off topic but it's an important enough question that I am going to answer it. In theory it could on topic at Language Learning, except that I have found that the answer to this question, for Spanish, is completely different from the answer for, say, French or German. // I've edited the title to focus also on the how, which fits with a number of other questions on the site. – aparente001 Jun 30 '19 at 12:27
  • @walen - I hope the edit I made to the title helps. – aparente001 Jun 30 '19 at 12:27
  • @walen - Sure, we can steer the question slightly, to rescue it. I have seen that done many times on other SE sites, and I've occasionally done it myself. What I did was pretty subtle. I would invite you to edit the question further, if you can, to complete the rescue. – aparente001 Jul 1 '19 at 20:57
  • @walen I would love to change the question to make it more fit the guidelines of this stack exchange, I understand how the question is off topic. What do you think the best way to change the question would be to make it directly relate to the Spanish language? Or where do you think would be a good place to ask it so that it does get answered from a Spanish speaking perspective? Or do you think its even worth asking and editing? Thanks everyone for the feedback! – Aidan McMillan Jul 3 '19 at 15:47
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The basic answer would be the same, even if you were a beginner.

Yes.

You may, indeed, strike up a conversation with a random stranger in the US.

Sí, puedes entablar conversación con un desconocido escogido al azar en EEUU.

I'm answering based on personal experience. When I returned to the US from living in Mexico, and was suffering from culture shock, I was glad to find other Spanish speakers to talk to, in a variety of states and walks of life and situations. They were glad too.

On the other hand, later on, returning once again to the US after living elsewhere for some time, but in this case, France, I found it difficult or impossible to chat with strangers in French. If the person was from France, I didn't get anywhere, and felt flattened by my attempts. If the person was from Canada, things went better; if the person was from Africa, the experience was as comfortable, and rewarding, as with Spanish.

Here are the reasons I can think of, for why most Spanish speakers respond positively:

  1. Living in the US can be quite alienating for a Spanish speaker, especially if they get frustrated when communicating in English. This is true even if one's documents are in order.

  2. The US is a place where many different regional variants of Spanish come together. Participating in this linguistic melting pot is thrilling.

  3. Most Spanish speakers (at least those from Latin America -- I have less experience with Iberian Spanish speakers) are extremely encouraging of new Spanish speakers, and tolerant of mistakes. This means that your ego will rarely get trampled.

Now, how to go about it:

a) Always begin with a greeting. Allow time for a response before you plunge into another sentence.

b) Gauge the person's openness to talk with you by their response to your greeting.

c) Avoid initiating a chat if the person is drunk or in the middle of something intense.

d) Safe ways to get started: make a comment about the weather, or ask a question.

a) Empieza con un saludo. Siempre. Deja que la otra persona pueda responder, antes de seguir adelante. Saludos comunes:

  • Buenos días.

  • Buenas tardes.

b) Puedes tantear la voluntad de la otra persona de platicar contigo, de acuerdo al saludo.

c) No trates de platicar con alguien si está borracho o si está metido en algo intenso.

d) Buenos temas para comenzar: comenta sobre el tiempo, o haz una pregunta, por ejemplo:

  • Por fin sale el sol, ¿eh?

  • ¿Cree que va a llover hoy?

  • ¿Por aquí hay un ... taller mecánico ... parada de autobús ... parque con juegos infantiles ... campo de futbol?

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  • Muchas gracias! Esto me da más confianza a hablar con más personas. Y gracias por tu ediciones. Hace la pregunta mejor. Y también tus puntos encimas son correctos; no pude encontrar un otro lugar dónde pude poner esta pregunta porque, la cosa por "Language Learning" no era solo por español y quise una repuesta solo sobre español. – Aidan McMillan Jun 30 '19 at 22:11
  • @AidanMcMillan - Bravo. ¡Que la pases bien platicando con la gente! // ¿A qué te refieres con "puntos encimas"? (Chequea en un diccionario cómo se usa encima.) – aparente001 Jul 1 '19 at 20:51

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