As time goes by here in Spain, I have begun to become familiar with a "look". It happens in the following scenario: I'm speaking Spanish, and a strange word slips out. A word that is not quite English, and not quite Spanish, it's a word lost in limbo. And then comes the "look". I don't know what I'm trying to say, the person I'm trying to talk to doesn't know what I'm trying to say, and we're both trying to be polite and simply move on from this limbo word.
For example? Sure...
Yesterday, we were enjoying a lunch with Salvation Army officers on vacation from Barcelona. I was attempting to tell them that there is going to be a clown show on New Year's Eve in our local town square. I know the word for clowns (payasos), but for some reason I simply could not get it out. It kept mangling itself as it tried to free itself of this language limbo. At that point....I got the "look".
Now, it's not a mean look, per say. It's just a look of pity mostly. A look that conveys "I know you're trying really hard, but I simply cannot understand you." The empathy behind the look really depends on the giver. Some people are very patient and understanding, and some simply, well, aren't.
An example of someone who wasn't:
When I worked a summer in Argentina, I lived and worked with a Salvation Army family who knew absolutely no English, I knew bare bones Spanish. (It was a special treat trying to communicate with sign language). There was a moment when I was carrying on a conversation with a small group of people, and I really thought I was doing well, they were nodding their heads, smiling (should have been my first clue, I realize). I reached the end of a phrase and I was really proud of myself, I had just maintained a conversation!! When one older gentlemen looked straight at the officer (pastor) in charge and said "What is this girl trying to say?? I have no idea what she's talking about?? Can someone translate her?"
::sigh::...I would have preferred the look.