Thursday, December 04, 2008

I can’t say I have a good understanding of the Spanish university system. But I was reminded recently of the comment made to me years ago that the places are rife with endogamy. Which in this context means promotion exclusively from within your own student pool. There was a rather provocative letter in El Mundo this week, from an American professor working here who noted there were calls for the country’s universities to be ranked according to merit. He said this was already being done by the rest of the world, with Spanish universities being rated very poorly. He commented on the low quality, effort and productivity of his colleagues and said things wouldn’t improve until Spain saw the end of enchufismo [cronyism] and its replacement by promotion on merit. If he’s right, this might explain why the greater tutoring workload demanded by the Bologna Process leaves some folk very cold. And afraid.

Here’s something for the philologists . . . I have now seen the word bermello – or something like it – used to mean ‘red’ in Galicia, Andalucia and Cataluña. I feel pretty sure it’s related to vermillion and is Latin in origin. So where does the Spanish rojo come from? The Latin russus?

Oh, dear. I make the occasional reference to this place – and to one of the main economic drivers along this coast – but here’s someone else’s take on the nearby town of Vilagarcia. Where I recently gave a talk on my blog to students of English at the town’s School of Languages. It was very well attended by the way, if perhaps not very well understood - esoteric elements of English grammar holding as much sway over everything there as they do in the rest of Spain. Apart from the fact their language lab is not yet functional because of electricity supply problems.

Oh, dear 2. More than 80% of readers of the Voz de Galicia who could be bothered to vote on line opined that the throwing of football matches is endemic in Spain. I suspect not. Just another bit of conspiracy thinking.

Oh, dear 3. I can’t say I’m surprised at this sad occurrence in nearby Vigo. One is regularly invited to walk through building works on Spain’s streets and it had to happen. And, much as I’d hate to see a Health & Safety gestapo here, I do things some things should be tightened up. In this case, I rather doubt any individual, council or insurance company will be effectively sued for negligence. Or even ineffectively. But let’s hope I’m wrong.

Oh, dear 4. I bought some heating oil a couple of weeks ago to test the system in the house in the hills. They charged me for 50 litres but I later decided this was double the size of the jerry can. So I went back today and they duly gave me some money back and, eventually, apologised. The trouble is that, when you live in a society which a reader [Moscow?] Has characterised as possibly-not-very-corrupt-but-of-low-ethics, you cease to give the benefit of the doubt and come to regard even genuine mistakes as fraudulent. So you become a lesser person than you were. Which is a shame. Anyway, I declined their offer to re-fill my can. They were not to know this was because there’s a leak in it and my car still stinks from the last time.

Oh, dear 5. Although I regularly hear Tony, his father, his two young sons and the woman who looks after them bawling around the house next door, I’ve never heard Tony’s wife, Amparo, raising her voice in more than 4 years. Or not until today, at least. Now she’s joined Bawlers United. It’s the beginning of the end.

Finally, I guess it had to happen – Someone has arrived at my blog today after searching for golfers brothel in Spain


jdm said...

Vermilion is actually from French, from a Latin word for a worm used to make red dye. Link here.

Rojo is the same Latin root family as rouge, rosso, etc.

Colin said...

Many thanks. Appreciated.

Colin said...

Strangely, I woke up this morning with the words barbarossa and testarossa[?] on my mind.What Steinbeck called 'the committee of sleep'.

Ferolano said...

Well Colin I hope that at least you were able to direct the golf fanatic to the; Erotika, Factory Girls or the Motel Venus, for some where to hang out - as to the golf, if that was his purpose, who knows!

Guiri said...

I can't really pretend to understand the university system here either but I have experienced it albeit anecdotally. Back in the mid 1990's I spent a year studying in a Spanish University as part of an exchange programme "un Erasmus" as they call it over here. Having done 2 years on my BA course the UK, I was put into classes with people in their 5th year. The style of teaching was archaic and the syllabus irrelevant, they seemed more interested in minutae such as whether a company with 450 employees should be classified as Small, Medium, or Large. Presumably so they would know which grants to apply for. One of my housemates, for his Final Year Dissertation in Marine Architecture was told to translate an American text book into Spanish, no original thought or investigation required. Why push the envelope when you can get a funcionario to stamp it?