Friday, February 22, 2008

There is a bizarre belief amongst Spaniards – even those who speak fluent English – that as a people they’re poor - indeed, genetically programmed to be so - at learning other languages. When you probe this, you’re told one main reason is that Spanish only has 5 vowel sounds, making the learning of a ‘richer’ language difficult. I regard this as pure self-serving baloney and an excuse for laziness but I’m prepared to be shot down in flames by anyone who can adduce hard evidence to the contrary. The challenge is to demonstrate why Spanish adults can’t master sounds at the disposal of every 3 year child born in Britain, the USA, Australia, etc., etc.

Earlier this year the government announced it was going to subsidise the rent of ‘young people’ by around €200 a month. A good pre-election move but the trouble is the regional governments are being more meticulous than Madrid wants in checking on entitlement. So the Minister of Housing has now written to the banks suggesting they ignore the niceties and just pay out anyway, on the government’s say-so. Feathers all over the dovecot, with the banks describing the development as ‘outrageous’. Which is understandable. God help us if Spanish banks ever get involved in illegal or even improper transactions.

The Spanish Tax Office [the Hacienda] says the black economy in Spain now amounts to 23% of GDP. After much thought, it’s concluded that most of the deals involving €500 notes – with which Spain is particularly blessed – are very probably fraudulent. So it’s now investigating 120,000 operations carried out with these between 2003 and 20005. It will be interesting to see what transpires.

I have to admit I’m mystified by judicial penalties in Spain. Gaol sentences can range up to 80,000 years or more for multiple murders but, on the other hand, an awful lot of fraudsters seem to get off with a slap on the wrist. The latest national case is that of the ‘Alberto’ cousins who diddled others of €24 million way back in 1988. After 20 years, the case has finally wound its way to the highest court and a gaol sentence of around 3 years has been annulled. Doubtless the legal logic is impeccable and the two guys can now get on with their service-in-the-community or whatever. And spending what’s left of the loot.

Meanwhile – up near Ourense, here in Galicia – a few families have been convicted of buying ‘protected’ properties at a discount merely as investments, having no intention of moving into them. They didn’t even purchase them for buy-to-rent purposes, as this would have involved a bit of hassle. I say ‘a few families’ but, of the houses in the development in question, a total of 33 were bought dishonestly. And probably sold dishonestly as well but that’s mere speculation on my part. Anyway, the official fine imposable for this offence ranges from 3,000 to 60,000 and they were hit with 3,014. Which they probably made in the first six months of illegitimate ownership. So that should act as a real disincentive for future potential transgressors. No?

A little postscript to my comment on the parking of cars on hills of the other day, in the form of a brief and statistically insignificant chat with a Spanish friend:-
What advice are you given as a learner here about parking on hills?
Nothing.
Really? So, what do you do when you park on a slope?
Nothing.
Are you sure? What about the hand-brake?
Oh, yes. I put that on.
And the gears?
Oh, yes. I put the car in first gear.
Well, that might be appropriate, depending on which way you’re facing. And what about the steering wheel.
Well, you’re supposed to turn it but I never do.

Random Quotes

I'd rather talk about other people than myself - Gossip or, as we gossips like to say, character analysis.
Elizabeth Hardwick

Blogging is best suited to instant reaction; thus it has an edge [over journalism] when it comes to disseminating gossip and news.
William Skidelsky in the Feb. edition of Prospect magazine


Finally – and speechlessly – I leave you with this report from post-Franco-just-about-anything-goes Spain . . . . El Mundo has revealed that a female prison officer working at the jail in Palma had a bit of a shock last Friday. She bumped into a prisoner leaving the women’s toilets and doing up his fly. She suspected something untoward had occurred and, on entry, found another prison officer inside. On questioning the prisoner, he confessed the officer had just practiced oral sex on him and claimed she had persuaded him to enter the toilets. If this is proved true, the prison officer will have committed the crime of sexual aggression and abuse of authority. This has a 15 year prison sentence in Spain. Which, of course, is infinity times greater than that for the peccadillo of defrauding others of €24m.

A rum country. But nice to live in. With lovely people. Except those who nick umbrellas.

12 comments:

Anonimo said...

Thank you very much for your extensive grammar lesson in response to my short comment.

However, I’m sorry to tell you that spinning IS also a noun.
Like fishing or swimming.

May I suggest that the next time you want to play the Professor you use sources a bit more reliable than the “first 10 results from google”. Try exploring the local library, for instance, and I hope you realise that there are other sources besides google, wikipedia and janitor José.

Colin said...

If you say so.

And 'un spinning' is not Spanglish either, I guess. Which was the origin of this exchange.

Thank-you for your kind advice. I was unaware of the existence of libraries. I guess they are used a lot by pedants.

Perhaps you could now bore us with your definition of 'Spanglish'.

Perhaps an entire blog on the subject. For rainy days.

Anonimo said...

I don't recall having said anything about "un spinning". You should check your blog. Or your memory. Or both.

"Un spinning" is completely wrong (as well as "una natación"). But I will not bore you with pedantic explanations about countable and uncountable nouns now that you have learnt about the existence of libraries.

The blog about Spanglish is something that you should consider yourself, given your record of educative blogs. Maybe when you finish with the one about how to drive.

Colin said...

ME
"But, really, I have no idea what 'pressing catch' can mean. As with 'el spinning'. Which, I was told this week, is now available under water."

YOU
"'Spinning" is actually proper English and not Spanglish."

Are you really saying that you didn't write the original comment? Or that you didn't see the 'el' before 'Spinning'? Or that I am unaware that 'spinning' is a proper English word? Whether or not it's a [verbal] noun.

On second thoughts, forget it. If you don't like what I write, you are perfectly free to stop reading it. Especially if you don't read it properly.

If you reply, I will merely delete your comment - after I have enjoyed it - as I doubt that anyone else is interested in this arcanae.

Colin said...

Or send me your comments/insults at thoughtsfromgalicia@gmail.com

Anonimo said...

Can't you see the difference between "el spinning" and "un spinning"?

Colin said...

Somehow - don't ask ask me why - I just knew that you would say this.

As if 'un spinning' is Spanglish, whereas 'el spinning' isn't. Astonishing.

Clearly you can't see the wood for the trees and must rank as Spain's leading philologist, as well as a pedant's pedant.

All of these comments will be deleted later today, giving you the chance to have the last word. Inane as it will surely be.

Anonimo said...

Are you kidding me??

"Un spinning" is nothing!! The same as "una natación". Not English, not Spanish, not Spanglish.

Have you ever seen or heard "un spinning"? Have I ever mentioned it?

"El spinning" is a loan.
English: Swimming - Spanish: La natación

English: Fishing - Spanish: La pesca

English: Spinning - Spanish: El spinning.

Otherwise, how do you translate it?

Colin said...

Of course I have heard 'un spinning'. That's why I mentioned it. It's a group exercise in a gym on bicycles.

e. g.

vendo bicicletas de spinning y aparato de ejercicio en buen estado.estoy desmontando un spinning

para realices tu sueño de poner un Spinning propio y ganar mucho dinero. .

If it's nothing, it doesn't exist, Oh, no. This can't be right; it clearly does exist.

Perhaps they don't have it yet down at your library.

Goodnight.

Anonimo said...

I insist I never said "un spinning" was right. And you started talking about "el spinning", which is the a valid term to refer to an activity. I think you said something like el spinning. Which, I was told this week, is now available under water

Now you are bringing two examples of "un spinning" used to refer to an object ("bicicleta estática", I suppose?) and that's wrong, or Spanglish or whatever. Anyway, I don't think that's the way 99.9% of the people use the word (to refer to a static bike). But with the help of google you can prove me wrong.

Colin said...

'Un spinning' is NOT a static bike. Or any sort of object. It is the ACTIVITY engaged in by a group of people in a gym sitting on stationery bikes while their wheels SPIN, to no effect.

As far as I am concerned, 'el spinning' is the exactly same thing. But I used 'un spinning' in my blog. I didn't actually say it was Spanglish. You chose to write and tell me it wasn't. As if anyone really cares.

My final comments are:-

1. You can choose to believe whatever you like, if it makes you feel any better in your ivory tower.

2. In true English, 'spinning' also means twisting words to mean anything you want them to mean. I guess you are as familiar with the theory of this as you are versed in its practice.

Enough, for God's sake. But if you want to write a final comment, may I suggest you at least tell us which of these, if any, is Spanglish:-

1. Un spinning

2. El spinning

At least we might then have a clear picture of where you are coming from and what you are really saying.

And do try to be logical and consistent.

Anonimo said...

To leave things clear:

You said:
Talking of odd English [...] But, really, I have no idea what pressing catch can mean. As with el spinning. Which, I was told this week, is now available under water.

And then I said that "spinning", or "el spinning" if you want, is proper English. It is an acceptable loan, and there is nothing odd.
So you could say "El spinning y la natación son buenos para la salud."

I never said "un spinning" was fine, I never heard it before. And, of course, it wasn't the origin of the exchange.

This is not inconsistent: "la natación" is perfectly correct, but "una natación" has no meaning to me.

From the example you put
"vendo bicicletas de spinning y aparato de ejercicio en buen estado.estoy desmontando un spinning" I thought that "un spinning" could be a odd (and wrong) way to refer to a static bike. But I insist, I cannot think of an acceptable (or even intelligible) use of "un spinning", that was not the origin of the debate and I will not comment further on that.