Too literal? Help!
Every day when I contribute to El Palabra del día, I receive feedback that my Spanish sentences are too literal with English. The feedback that is given is wonderful, and I try to learn from my mistakes, but the next day the same thing happens. This is very frustrating, and I am not sure how to get beyond it. I have been told to take what I know about Spanish and use it, but I don't really know how to do this.
I believe that this is my biggest hurdle in going from being a low intermediate speaker to becoming a higher intermediate or advanced speaker on my way to fluency. Since I don't have a lot of opportunity to speak with native speakers, I am afraid that I will never overcome this handicap.
Can anyone give me some advice, or think of a reference tool or game that fluent speakers might be able to participate in that would help this problem. I see the same comments regarding being too literal on other posts as well, so I know that this is not a problem that only effects me.
Thanks for any help you might be able to give, and thanks to the correctors on this website for their assistance. You are great!
Hi there, don't be discouraged! Just keep working at it... The key really is developing the ability to think the way spanish speakers think
Here's a helpful tip: www.jw.org has free pdf downloads in various languages. Download the same article in Spanish and in English and compare the two... you'll quickly notice the different thought patterns.
The following is an excellent excerpt from an article in the Awake! (1984) entitled "Teaching Your Children Another Language."
To achieve functional mastery of another language you will require more than a list of nouns and a few verbs. You will need to understand (feel) how that language fits together in all its component parts. You will want to sense which word combinations sound natural and which comical, or even ridiculous, to the native speaker. It would be practical to flavor your conversation generously with idioms; these are both challenging and stimulating to the mind. An idiom is an expression that is peculiar to a language and that cannot be understood by literal, word-for-word translation. It has to be equated with an expression that carries the same meaning in the other language.
If you don't have many native speakers to talk to, I suggest reading, watching news or movies in Spanish. What you are trying to achieve is to think in Spanish (to stop being too literal), but that takes a long long time in your case because you are not surrounded by Spanish speaker all the time.
This is hard to get past and sometimes I continue to have trouble with it. In English there are always several ways to say pretty much the same thing. The nuances may be different but unless the nuances are critical then the different ways communicate the idea. It is the same in Spanish. So start by thinking of several ways to write your sentence each day that all communicate your idea. Then try to do the same in Spanish.
Also read sentences written in Spanish by others and translate them back to English. You will soon start to see how things change between the two languages.
An example the sentence above: También lees oraciones escritas en español por otros y cambiarlas al inglés de nuevo.
I'm not a native speaker, and a native speaker would say it different than I do, but you can see how the two are different.
"También lees oraciones escrito por otros en español y cambiarlos a inglés de nuevo".
"También lee oraciones escritas en español por otros y cámbialas al inglés de nuevo".
I have found that reading in Spanish, watching Spanish television and listening to Spanish music has helped me tremendously.