Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Many people in the UK feel it’s difficult now to differentiate between the Conservative party of Cameron and the New Labour party of Blair/Brown. A British columnist suggests “The dividing lines in politics are shifting: the old disagreements between Left and Right are disappearing; they are being replaced by new divides such as those between liberals and authoritarians, and between modernisers and reactionaries”. I wonder if this can also be said about things here in Spain.

Talking of the UK, here’s an article on the theme of the hysteria displayed by what the author calls ‘tabloid besotted’ parents on the question of their children’s safety.

I doubt that it’s generally realised around the world that only a minority of Spaniards are supporters of the country’s bullfighting tradition. There may well be even fewer now, after this week’s publication of a report claiming it only survives on subsidies from taxpayers’ money. Meanwhile, though, interest has possibly risen this summer because of a long streak of good luck for the bulls in the few minutes before they’re ignominiously dragged from the ring. Spectacular gorings appear to have been more frequent than usual. Especially for one poor guy.

There’s something wrong about the clock in Galicia. By this I mean it doesn’t have the time its geographical position merits. Which would be the same time as the UK directly north of it and Portugal directly south. However, understandable political reasons keep it on the same clock as the rest of Spain. The plus is that we get very long summer evenings. The minus is that light’s in short supply in the mornings, especially at this time of the year, just before the clocks go back. As someone who always rises around 7.30, it’s been a little depressing to see the sun rapidly disappear from the morning sky. So much so that I’m now getting up in pitch darkness, though there will be temporarily amelioration after next weekend’s change of the clock. As I understand it, the main reason for this rapid blackening of the dawn sky is that, when the day shortens in autumn and winter, this happens more in the morning than the evening, hitting us early-risers the worst. To get off this subject, the Galician Nationalist Party has actually proposed that Galicia be on a different time from the rest of Spain. Thought not just by the one hour that would put it on UK/Portugal time but by two hours. This really would make a difference to my mornings but I’ve no idea what their logic is on this.

I see Venice has ‘declared war on the hordes of pigeons that are soiling its piazzas and damaging monuments’. Throwing rice at newlyweds is to be banned and the mayor will try to stop hawkers in St Mark's Square selling pigeon food to tourists. On a smaller scale, the only thing which mars my Sunday lunch of squid and white wine down in Pontevedra’s old quarter is the persistence of the pigeons as they try to steal from the bowls of peanuts on the tables. Last Sunday I was astonished to see a woman nearby was actually hand-feeding these flying rats. I was reminded of my brother’s comment that it’s amazing what you see when you don’t have your rifle with you.

Another little bit of Spanglish - I was confused by the word flases but eventually tracked it down as the alternative for the English flashes. So you can have un flash or un flas.

Talking of words, I was confused by an American author’s use of the [unknown to me] word bollix to mean something like to destroy. But Wikipedia came to my rescue with:- To bollix: To throw into confusion; To botch or bungle. . . The word ‘bollocks’ is sometimes spelled as bollox or bollix, to make it appear less vulgar. Its meaning is "to bungle", as in "The project was going well but my boss bollixed it up." This is the sense in which the term is generally used in the USA, where the original meaning of "bollocks" is almost unknown. "Bollixed up" is sometimes considered an out-of-date expression that has largely been replaced by phrases such as "screwed up," as the latter term has gradually lost most of its previously vulgar connotation. If there really is an American reader out there unsure of the original – and still current in the UK – meaning of bollocks, post me a comment and I will oblige.


Anonymous said...

I think you should check you sources.

The BNG never proposed to change the time by two hours. The proposal was for one hour, which would bring the time in line with Canary Islands, Portugal, UK and Ireland.

P.S. I am not an extremist Galician Nationalist.

Anonymous said...

Pleased to see you call pigeons “flying rats”.

Anonymous said...

You smart ass, the word "flas" does not exist in Spanish. It is just that not everyone is as clever as you, so people make spelling mistakes from time to time.

I am sure it has never happened to you. Even when you write in Spanish.

Anonymous said...

anonymous, I think you're the smart ass, or perhaps the dumb ass on this occasion. the word flash does exist in spanish & is right there in the RA dictionary, phonetically transcribed as /flas/. it's an anglicism of course, something you presumably would have learned in EGB. Colin was just trying to say that it sounded odd at first, rather like if I attempted paella or tortilla etc, which would have you laughing your breats off, I'm sure. I suggest you get a life...

Colin Davies said...

Thanks for helping out. It's good to know that not all anonymous writers speacialise in juvenile abuse and heavy sarcasm.

The word I saw in a [Spanish] newspaper was 'flases'. Collins dictionary gives:-
flash ['flas] pl. flashes ['flases]

I guess it's true that it should have been spelled 'flashes' in the article, even though it's pronounced 'flases'.

But I guess over time it will transmogrify - in Spanish - into 'flas'. As 'pub' - for inexplicable reasons - will become 'paf'.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous III, I am afraid you don't know how to read. I said the word "flas" does not exist. The word "flash" of course it exists. Although it is pronounced using the Spanish fonems. The same way an English dictionary transcribes "paella" or "tortilla" using the English fonems.

And Colin was not talking about how it sounded but about how it was written.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but what is a 'fonem'?

If you were intending to use English, the word is 'phoneme'. And I believe the Spanish is 'fonema'.

Words which spring to my mind are Pot, Kettle, and Idiot.

Anonymous said...

my apologies for misreading you, anon.

Anonymous said...

I must be quite right if the only thing you are able criticise is my mispelling of "phoneme".

I am not English, by the way.

Anonymous said...

I love when Colin writes as anonymous and talks to himself!!!

Anonymous said...

you're wrong anon, it wasn't colin, it was me. I felt the need to apologise to you. catholic guilt & all that.
no te preocupes.