Friday, March 20, 2009

Reader Jorge feels I’ve neglected 2000 years of Christianity in suggesting the national mood of resignation or fatalism might be due to the influence of Islam. I guess there’s an mixture of things but it’s true that Catholics have a bent for confession followed by expiation through penance. So, maybe that’s it.

I also mentioned it was a standard aspiration here to have a good life at someone else’s expense. So I was interested to read today Spain has been awarded 337.5 million euros by the EU for energy infrastructure projects. When you consider that this is 82.5m than what was originally allocated to Spain, you can see how good they are at this game.

And here’s a good example of the sort of critical British article I was referring to, about Gordon Brown’s Faustian pact with capitalism, despite being a socialist at heart. Hard-hitting stuff. And fully deserved.

For English speakers, the guttural Spanish J can be a bit of a problem. In contrast, Spanish speakers have difficulty with an aspirated H, as in his, her, hotel, etc., etc. The link between these statements is that Spaniards often use their J sound for the English H, which can possibly best be transcribed as KH. I thought of all this when listening to a guy on the radio this morning talking about hip hop music. Or kheep khop, to be more accurate.

I had my car serviced this week and was alarmed to see on the bill that they’d checked the tyre pressures. Sure enough, they were considerably over-inflated. After 8 years, I wonder if there’s any place in Spain which is aware of manufacturers’ recommended pressures. Or cares.

But the good news is that my temporary wing mirror – cobbled together for a cost of around 12 euros – was good enough for the car’s technical inspection today. Though I’m not totally convinced they even glanced at it. However, all the other checks seemed very thorough. And the guy was happy to give me instructions in Spanish, rather than Gallego.

Finally, I see that the Spanish for Do-it-yourself is Hágaselo-usted-mismo. But, though the Spanish seem to love acronyms, I don’t recall ever seeing HUM for DIY. Or even KHUM.


Midnight Golfer said...

I still can't get over the transposition of the "J" and "Y" sounds in Spanish.
Jennifer vs Yenifer, or Yes vs Jes

Spaniards are fully capable of pronouncing both the J in Jennifer and the Y in Yes, and yet they more often than not swap the two sounds for some inexplicable reason.

Xoán-Wahn said...

The Spanish are definitely getting better at pronouncing the English "h" sound. This is probably due to a growing influence from other Spanish-speaking countries where the Spanish "j" sound and the English "h" are exactly the same. To those of us who have grown up with this softer, more melodic Spanish (in Canarias and Latin America, for example), the peninsular "j" can be a bit harsh.

Lenox said...

'bricolaje' for do it yourself.

Colin said...

Yes, but that's just a stolen French word.

Ekto said...

Dear Colin,

I'm not in the slightest bit surprised your tyres were over inflated. It's an endemic problem here. Being a stickler for tyre pressures I soon discovered something was amiss when I noticed a huge difference between petrol stations on consecutive fill-ups. Eventually I went to see my "tyre man" and he just laughed, so I ordered my own fatfrenchman pressure gauge (not cheap!) and have since not found a single gauge to be correct in at least 20 stations. Most stations are off by about .2 bar. Some, rather alarmingly, by .6 or.7! All this supposing the frenchman makes quality products. The gauges of local talleres, like mine, appear to belong in a museum.


Colin said...

Thanks. Yes, this is in addition to the fact that most/all talleres think that all cars should be at 2.5!

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