In the beginning I used to think the entire village was at war with each other, or that disasters were taking place, considering the way everyone yelled. “Why talk when you can yell?” seems to be a village motto. Villagers yell for a myriad of reasons. They yell in enthusiasm; “Hey! how are you!” They yell in anger; “What the hell is your donkey doing in my cabbage patch!” and they yell in panic; “My donkey has escaped!”
Villager S, my direct neighbour, yells permanently, but the pitch varies ever so slightly. You have to have lived here for years though to be able to distinguish the yell indicating when there is something seriously wrong, from the yell indicating her upped dose of meds for her nerves is not working quite correctly.
From an evolutionary perspective it could be that villagers have developed stronger vocal chords for the pure reason their voices had to reach far, over the fields and through forests. It is mainly the women who do the yelling. All this Spain has a macho culture preconception goes straight out of the window here. It’s the men who are demure. The men who have to bear the Scorn of the Vocal Chords.
When you stand next to a village woman who yells you can witness how they put their entire being behind it, it is far more than just a bit of lung action air-through-vocal-chords. Village yelling doesn’t come from the diaphragm, it comes from the toes.
It didn’t take me long to get used to the yelling. It is kind of liberating. It is one of those things which I would have frowned upon in previous lives. But here, when I need someone, I just stand in front of their house and do the multiple syllable yell. I have perfected it over the years, I can even do it with names which have rolling r’s in them, which is really difficult. Villagers have longer names because they sound better when yelled. It doesn’t work with names like Sue or Dave. It has to be Manueeeel, Marrrrrina or Franciiiisca. My name lends itself brilliantly for it too. Baaaarbaraaa.
But one of the best yells which would be impossible to imagine in polite societies is QUE!.
“Que” means “what”, but when yelled it loses its automatic question mark. Yelled it turns into something else. It is that good, I’d consider patenting it, just to say I own QUE!.
In the beginning I made the mistake of politely answering with “Wait a moment!”‘ or “I am coming!” when I heard my name bellowed outside, but now I merely respond with a QUE! Think sheepish, but instead of Beeeeh you do gueeee and then really loud. There is no comparison in English with “what” because it doesn’t have that shotgun Q at the beginning.
QUE!, come to think of it, has that je ne sais quoi. But then in Spanish.