Querer es poder
“IF YOU want to you can” or “to want is to be able”. A good positive phrase but I heard this spoken by the great Rafa Nadal some time ago in a slightly different way. He said “Querer no es siempre poder” (Wanting isn’t always being able) when he was knocked out of the London Masters Cup. He has since bounced back though and is tuning for another Wimbledon triumph. ¡¡Vamos Rafa!!
Well, I know I have a bit of an obsession about ‘spanglish’. It’s not that I disapprove of including foreign words in Spanish, in fact I think it is part of the normal development of languages worldwide. However, these gems do tend to catch my eye, or my ear, on a daily basis.
Here’s one from a while ago, which I think is quite spectacular. On 31st December 2010 the traditional date for ‘San Silvestre’ races around the country, San Pedro del Pinatar hosted its first ‘nordicwalkeando’ race in Lo Pagán. If you don’t believe me, you may refer to nordicwalkeando dot com for confirmation.
The Spanish have several phrases to represent the idea people who offer you empty words and empty promises. ‘Vender humo’ (selling smoke) is one. This is also the activity of a person who ‘vive del cuento’ (makes a living from storytelling). These phrases always make me think of those ‘charlatans’ (also a Spanish word) who used to sell miracle cures in the Wild West. I’ve met a few of them here as well, like the man at an exhibition who tried to sell me a gadget to keep the air clean in my house. Well, he wasn’t selling smoke anyway.
PAÍS DE PANDERETA
Pandereta means ‘tambourine’, of the sort my children used to carry when dressed in their traditional costumes in our village fiestas. They would chant the local folk songs and bang on the ‘panderetas’ with strident voices. A while ago I heard the expression: “España es un país de pandereta” spoken by someone on a radio phone-in programme.
The gentleman concerned was a pensioner who said that a few days previously his pensioners club had been raided by police for playing ‘illegal’ bingo. Each pensioner had paid 10 cents per card and there was a kitty of 22€. The police confiscated the bingo set and kitty and took the names and identity numbers of all the pensioners. I can just imagine the scene, can’t you?
His conclusion to the story was to complain that Spain is “un país de pandereta” – in other words a country not to be taken seriously on the international stage, or words to that effect!
WHERE’S THE S?
Where I live in San Pedro del Pinatar, Murcia the‘s’ sound in words is inclined to disappear. I have now got used to hearing “ma o meno” for “más o menos”, although the first time I heard it when I arrived from northern Spain it was a bit of a culture shock. Another interesting fact about Spanish pronunciation in general, is that there are no words that start with ‘sp’, ‘sl’, ‘sk’ or ‘st’ – of which of course there are thousands in English. Their equivalents in Spanish always start with an ‘e’ – estación, escribir, España. Now all that explains why the other day I was told how important ‘elogane’ are in marketing. Think about it! If you want to test this phenomenon out for yourself, ask your Spanish friend to pronounce the word ‘Schrek’. The result is quite interesting!
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.