Monthly Archives: February, 2008

Chavez Says: No More Spanglish

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela would like a little more pureza in his people’s españolh. He is urging the country’s citizens to stop using English words for popular contemporary terms, favoring their Spanish counterparts instead.

He’s got a point. After I finished the intermediate-level Spanish I needed to graduate with my English degree, I declared my minor and moved on to more advanced classes. The first of these, SPAN 207: Reading and Writing in Spanish, was taught completely in Spanish. English was discouraged to the point that, when our teacher asked what a word meant, she wanted a definition in Spanish, not the English translation.

However, since we weren’t quite proficient yet, we would often still sprinkle our Spanish sentences with English words. It’s much harder to build up your fluency when you have to stop and puzzle over a word in the middle of a sentence. If you just drop in the English word, you can get on with the rest of your phrase. I noticed, though, that the English words in a Spanish sentence always sounded rough and inelegant in comparison.

So I see what Chavez wants. It would be ludicrous to have my Venezuelan boss call a meeting instead of a reunión, or to input my password instead of my contrasena on (For the record, I rarely use that site, I’m not registered, and they’re mostly hunkered down after the release of Harry Potter y las reliquas de la muerte a few days ago.) There’s enough debate over Spanglish already. I love being able to read and write in both languages, but I hate getting them mixed up.

I’ll blog about something American again soon.

[Note added 5/10/12: The original article was posted at Yahoo! News. I had to use Yahoo! search to find the article on Fox News. I think that’s ironic.]


Today’s linguistic curiosities come to you via Wikipedia. I’ve only recently started reading Wikipedia articles in Spanish. It’s so encouraging that I can understand them. They help a lot when I’m studying for my Spanish history class, because my professor lectures in Spanish, and I’ll have to write exams on them in Spanish. Researching in English wouldn’t make sense; I don’t even take notes in English for that class.

Las palabras más largas del idioma español son [The longest words in the Spanish language are:] Hipopotomonstrosesquipedaliofóbicos, esternocleidooccipitomastoideo, anticonstitucionalmente, electroencefalografista y otorrinolaringológicamente.

via Idioma español

I love that section because the words are so neat. The first is some kind of animal with six legs (I think). The second sounds like a body part. The thrid is “unconstitutional.” The fourth is “electroencephalographist,” a.k.a. someone who runs EEGs. The last sounds like an adverb for things related to speech (ENT, possibly).

All of this is making Firefox’s built-in spell check go crazy.

An amusing example of the significance of stress and intonation in Spanish is the riddle como como como como como como, to be punctuated and accented so that it makes sense. The answer is: ¿Cómo “cómo como”? ¡Como como como! (“What do you mean / ‘how / do I eat’? / I eat / the way / I eat!”).

from the English version of the same article: Spanish language

And finally, a similar linguistic riddle in English:

“Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” is a grammatically correct sentence used as an example of how homonyms and homophones can be used to create complicated constructs.

If you consider “buffalo” a verb, it works. Very cool…for us language nerds.

Famous Commas

The Blasphemous Comma

In several editions of the King James Bible, Luke 23:32 is changed entirely by the absence of a comma. In the passage that describes the other men crucified with Christ, the erroneous editions read, “And there were also two other malefactors. Instead of counting Christ as a malefactor, the passage should read: “And there were also two other, malefactors.”

But shouldn’t the correct version then be, “And there were also two others, malefactors”? Check out the other two famous (secular) commas here.

Premio arte y pico

Premio arte y pico

Despite my most recent blogging drought, I have won an award for my writing: El premio arte y pico! (It means something like the Award for Art/Artistry and a Kiss on the Cheek.) Mara, who lives in Spain blogs at Comenzando a navegar (Setting Sail), has passed on an award that’s circulating among Spanish-language bloggers. Clearly, I blog here in English, but Mara knows enough English and I know enough Spanish that we can understand each other. I hadn’t realized she kept reading my blog after we found each other ages ago, but I’m glad she did.

According to the Arte y pico blog, where the award originated, it is given to blogs “los cuales me nutren y enriquecen el espiritu y la creatividad. En ellos veo dedicacion, creatividad, esmero, compañerismo, alegria y por sobre todo, ARTE, mucho arte. Quiero que con este premio, se agasaje a todas aquellas blogueras y blogueros que dia a dia comparten este espacio y lo enriquecen cada dia un poco mas.”

[In English: The award is given to blogs “which nourish and enrich my spirit and creativity. In these blogs, I see dedication, creativity, care, companionship, joyfulness, and overall, ART, so much art. With this award, I want to give attention to those bloggers who day after day share this space (the blogosphere) and enrich every day a little bit more.”]

At first, I wondered how on Earth to pass it along, because I don’t read any other Spanish blogs. The rules make it easier, though (in English, retranslated by me):

  1. Pick 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award on the basis of creativity, design, interesting material, and contributions to the blogger community (or blogosphere), regardless of language.
  2. Post the name of the authors and links to their blogs so that everyone can visit.
  3. Display the award on your blog and include the name and link of the blog that gave it to you.
  4. Link to this post at the Arte y pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of the award.
  5. Display these rules.

Therefore, I offer the Premio arte y pico to:

  1. Kim, at Transitus Tiber [now Bearing Wrongs Patiently], for her graceful way of sharing her everyday struggles to reach holiness and sustain joy.
  2. Nick, at PhatCatholic Apologetics, for his relentless and bold defense of Holy Mother Church.
  3. Lyzii, at dreamlit, for being such a great friend and for the way she, like I, tries to understand the world and our God through writing.

I think quality is more important than quantity, so I’m only naming 3 recipients. Pass it on, guys! Let’s make this award bilingual!


L I N D S a Pewter Letter y

Can you tell I’m trying to post more often?

via Spell with flickr

Love Is Kryptonite

A former teacher of mine, now a coworker in a strange sense, won the WashPo Magazine‘s 2007 Valentine’s Fiction Contest back in July. His story, “Love Is Kryptonite,” was just published in this weekend’s edition.

Arguments over what name to give February 14 aside, it’s a really fabulous story. Dean is an interesting guy in the truest sense of the word. I love the voice of his narrator. It’s a very Deanlike way to tell a story.

Advertising Woes

I just saw an ad in my Yahoo! Mail that reminds me of my days in women’s studies class.

Ridiculous Ad

What on earth does that woman have to do with a computer? Honestly! Will my hair be that straight if I get a MacBook Air? Do I get to date her if I get a MacBook Air? Are my clothes going to be that clingy and low-cut if I get a MacBook Air? I’ll pass.

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