Monday, April 20, 2009

I occasionally mention the speedboats abandoned on our Galician beaches. There may now be rather fewer of these, as “The members of the leading smuggling gang operating in Galicia, a well-travelled gateway for cocaine into Europe, were arrested and their boats seized in an operation which involved scores of officers from the police and the Civil Guard. The so-called lancheros - launch men - were under contract to Colombian cocaine cartels to bring ashore large consignments of the drug. After getting it on dry land, the lancheros hid the drugs to await transport to Britain and other destinations in Western Europe.” Now, this may seem like very good news to you, but spare a thought for our local economy. Times were hard enough already.

I’m used to reading odd female names inspired by the Catholic religion – like Penitencia, Imaculada and Purgatorio (though I may have made up the last of these) – but pickings are less rich when it comes to males. However, I see the father of the new president of the Galician Xunta is blessed with the name Saturnino, Which translates as, well, saturnine. Or melancholy, grave or gloomy. Which seems a lot to load a kid with. I wonder if anyone’s called Diablo. Or even just Lucifero. If so, it'd have to be recent development, as it’s only a few years since the Spanish state withdrew the obligation to name your children after saints. But Santo Saturnino? Well, yes, actually.

Roundabouts again . . . It’s struck me that, in the article I cited, there were no instructions about what signal to give when entering or exiting one of these. Perhaps this is just as well, as any signal, absence of signal or combination of signals seems to be perfectly acceptable. Which leads to the superordinate rule on any roundabout – Don’t trust any signal made by any other driver.

Apart from several Chinese and Italian restaurants, Pontevedra doesn’t offer much by way of international cuisine. The Korean restaurant closed down after only a few months and two Indian restaurants didn’t last much longer either. But the city is now overflowing with kebab places. I guess it’s the perfect dish for hungry souls patronising the dozens of bars and discos of the old quarter. Coincidentally, I’ve heard today that a kebab house in Santiago is offering Thai dishes. Which will have to be investigated.

Meanwhile . . . Hits to this blog have soared today. I’ve suggested this happens if I refer to sex, brothels or prostitutes but, in this case, it looks as if it’s because I cited ETA and terrorism. Perhaps there’s a horde of angry Basques out there tracking the blogosphere for any reference to these. Actually, most of Spain’s Basques seem angry but I guess this is because they’re the ones who get the media attention. They wouldn’t, of course, regard themselves as angry Spaniards.


Midnight Golfer said...

I did not realize that a "launch" is another word for a boat. Now, "lancha" which I simply thought was the Spanish way to say "speedboat" seems more like Spanglish. Although, 'lanzar' does mean 'to launch' so maybe it's less Spanglish and more Latin, or at least based on the shared Latin roots of both languages.

Anyways, I'm always learning about both languages here on your blog. Maybe it shouldn't surprise me anymore that I still have so much to learn, even about my own mother tongue.

Ferolano said...


In part, some of the marine and nautical Spanish words used in Galicia are in fact Spanglish. These came into the idiom during the early 1900s when the UK shipbuilders, Vickers were invited to participate in the modernization of the military shipyard in Ferrol. The words derived were the result of British engineers trying to communicate as best they could and the resulting Spanglish has remained and in some cases forms part of the local language. Ironically, the family of one of these engineers remains in the area operating a language school, to teach English, of course!


Alberto said...

Names like Saturnino or Abundio or Cojonciano (sic) were far more common two or three generations ago. In those times was normal (Specially at the country) to give to boys the name of the saint of the day (No problem if you were born on the day of Saint John or on the day of Santiago, but dramatical if you were born on the day of Saint Cojonciano)

Colin said...

Thanks, Alberto. Cojonciano? Contraction of cojo and ancianco??

Victor B. said...

Lancha, according to the DRAE:
Del portugués lancha, y este del malayo lánčār, rápido, ágil

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