MEMORISING SPANISH WORDS
I’M ALWAYS interested in different people’s learning methods. I’m afraid I am very ‘unsystematic’. I like to immerse myself in Spanish – mainly radio, TV and general chit-chat – and pick things up very gradually. I start to notice a new word, I hear it several times, I may look it up in the dictionary but often forget the definition five minutes later, but gradually it settles itself into my working vocabulary. This sounds like a slow process, but I’ve usually got a dozen different words and phrases buzzing around somewhere at any given time.
Other people are far more methodical. I have students who copy out lists of words like lines at school; others who stick labels around the place; and others who have wonderfully neat notebooks, complete with category sections and definitions.
I’LL HIT YOU WITH MY CARPET!
The great thing about false friends is that they work both ways. In other words the Spanish trip up with them in English as well. In another life I used to teach Spanish children English and at the beginning of every year they were all given a folder with the academy logo on. The idea was that they would swan around the village with their folders and become the envy of their friends who would instantly sign up as well. Needless to say, they found a much better use for their folders, which was to hit each other over the head with them.
The false friend here is the word “folder” which in Spanish is “carpeta”. Despite regular correction, the most recalcitrant students remained convinced that the word in English must be “carpet”: hence the title of this blog.
By the way, a hit with a folder/carpet was referred to as a “carpetazo” which is untranslatable – a “folder-bash” is the nearest I can get.
THE EVENT WAS WELL ASSISTED
We have already talked about false friends working both ways for English and Spanish speakers. Some of those reading this blog with remember a lovely young man called Fran who ran a small cinema showing “English films with Spanish sub-titles”. Fran used to visit our social club Crossroads every week with an update of his news, and he also tried to update his English while he was with us.
One of his enduring errors was the confusion between “to attend” in English and “asistir” in Spanish and so he gave us regular reports on public “assistance” to his films. He was speaking to the worst possible audience to help him with his English, because (pronounced by Fran for many months be-cows) people found his mistakes endearing and didn’t want to correct them!
I haven’t seen Fran for a while, but I’m certain his English has moved on without us and he now knows that “asistir” is “to attend”, whilst “to assist” is of course “ayudar”.
A SPANISH NIGHTMARE – STOLEN CHILDREN
The idea of someone stealing your child is something akin to a waking nightmare. There are legends all over the world of wicked characters who steal children at birth. In Asturias. Northern Spain, there is a mythical creature called a “Xana” who steals people’s babies and replaces them with her own offspring so that they can receive baptism and be fed by a human mother’s milk. There is also the enduring figure of the “changeling” – the child-imposter, who re-emerged recently in the film starring Angelina Jolie.
Whilst these creatures seem mythical and remote, a modern nightmare is being lived out in Spain with the discovery of literally thousands of cases of babies stolen from poor and uneducated mothers and sold to adoptive families by people of standing including doctors, nurses, priests and nuns. As the revelations continue, the indisputable evidence of DNA testing has brought this silent nightmare into sharp public focus.
This article is made up of items that have been appearing over recent months in my blog http://janecronin.wordpress.com which you can also get to via the homepage of my website. They come under various categories such as“false friends” “favourite sayings” “Spanish society” and so on. I hope you enjoy them.