Living in a new country is daunting. Living in a new country with expat language skills can be terrifying. Insanity soon prevails, from opening a bank account (8 separate signed pages needed) to signing on at the local police station (a requirement of any extranjero whether criminal or not).* It may take a while, but “Don’t worry, be happy” is the best policy. In Spanish, no te preocupes. Chill.
When it comes to computers, however, “Don’t worry, be happy” and “no te preocupes” don’t cut it. To err is human, to completely foul things up … takes a computer. To err again is more human, to completely and utterly snafu everything takes a computer with another operating language.
Try translating Windows commands from Spanish to English. A Nightmare on Elm Street. Figuring out why your mobile phone suddenly won’t access the internet. Rosemary’s Baby. Finding the best Wi-Fi (Wee-Fee) hot spot in the house. The Exorcist, The Shining, Omen, Parts I, II, and III. When it comes to computers, practice does not make perfect.
The first Spanish computerese I mastered was descargar and cargar or download and load. I had to – necessity being the mother of invention and all – and have been descargaring everything under the sun. Even our television routinely descargars under the guise of the latest update. Contraseña (or clave) is also essential if one wants to sign on to anything with a password. But most vexing is the @ sign, a third-level function located on the 2/” key, accessed by pressing Alt Gr + 2. Not to mention accents. I thought French keyboards were hard. Spanish is another level.
Cookies are also a pain. Not the galleta kind, the pain-in-the-culo kind, as in a web page recognizing an IP address as Spanish, and then automatically assuming you speak business Spanish. As such, when I use the web, my IP recognizing cookie machine sets me up to open a BBVA account, watch TVE, learn English (curso official de inglés a distancia), or descubre nuestra bodegas. I don’t want to do any of that even in English. Yo no acepto.
Word is a little more straightforward: Inicio — Home (or Start), Insertar — Insert or can easily be related to the English equivalent: Diseño de página — Page Layout, Vista — View. The submenus are also easy: Alinear — Align, Girar — Rotate, Recortar — Crop, etc.***
My favourite is Vaciar la Papelera de reciclaje (Empty the Recycle Bin) and Restaurar todos los elementos (Restore all items) – just in case I completely screwed up.
If all else fails, there’s always Ctrl-Alt-Supr (Ctrl-Alt-Del). Supr is short for suprimir, literally remove. And if all else fails fails, there’s always a good book.