Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A week or two ago, I mentioned a TV ad for a Spanish insurance company which featured the Liverpool goalkeeper and was seen as racist in the UK. Well, the company has now pulled the ad, after lobbying from a British pressure group. From a Spanish base, this IberoSphere article notes the different British and Spanish perspectives on racism and asks whether the Brits don't go too far at times. As in the three monkeys case I mentioned a couple of weeks ago perhaps.

Talking of attitudes . . . Somewhere in the archives of this blog is at least one list of Spanish words - such as perro (dog) and cerdo (pig) - which are innocuous in the masculine form but mean 'whore' in the feminine version. There's a lot of them and I've now stumbled on a new one. By which I mean new for me. It's hombrezuelo, which is 'short man' in the masculine form but, of course, 'whore' in the feminine form - mujerzuela. The same goes for hombrecillo and mujercilla, which I happened on when checking the Royal Academy's dictionary.

And talking of the Royal Academy, it seems the all-male Committee has decided to fight a rearguard action against those who object to the masculine form being used to cover both males and females, as in padres, (parents) niños (children) and lobos (wolves). They've had quite enough of teachers saying niños y niñas, apparently. Possibly they're a little out of touch with societal developments.

In Europe, Brussels is reported to have switched its gaze (at least for now) from Greece to Spain. It emerged a day or so ago that a team of number-crunchers had been sent to Madrid to pore over Spain's "constantly changing" deficit number for 2011. And to get a good idea of what Brussels could demand - regardless of Sr. Rajoy's little revolt - for 2012. You'll recall that the target originally set was 4.4% of GDP and Sr. Rajoy unilaterally changed it to 5.8% before the ink was dry on the new fiscal pact of a couple of weeks ago. Well, the Spanish can claim some success, as Brussels has now revised their target to 5.3%. But it could be something else next week.

Finally . . . I've long known that the qwerty keyboard came about because someone wanted to slow down the speed with which the keys hit the ribbon (we're talking ancient technology here, kids), because they were getting snagged too often. Well, there was a second reason - the typewriters were made by Remington and having the keyboard in the qwerty configuration made it easy for their sales reps to type the word TYPEWRITER, as all the letters are in the top row. This seems far too plausible to be an urban myth.


sp said...

Has the Academy noticed that in letters to the padres (and madres) schools often refer to "nin@s"? I don't know how one is supposed to pronounce that.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

In the same way as one pronounces the present name of the singer formerly known as Prince, Sp! (Incidentally: how does one pronounce YOUR name?)

Candide said...

For your collection of Spanish expressions that mean different things according to sex (no, not gender) here's "hombre público" vs "mujer pública". So classic that I'm sure you know it.

Colin said...

Thanks Candide. No, I didn't know that one.

Colin said...

Alfie, Stop irritating my readers, you old goat!

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Who is irritating your readers, you Liverputian oaf? I am one of your readers, and you are irritating me daily! My question, furthermore, was a justified one.

Now for the light touch. Who of you adoptive hispanoparlantes knows the difference between Hecho Polvo and Echar Un Polvo?


Colin said...

Yes, but not in capital letters. Surely one of your various young relatives will have told you that netiquette dictates that this is equivalent to shouting.

I know what 'echar un polvo' means but can only guess at 'hecho polvo' as a dirty deed. But I see from the net that
"estar hecho polvo, (cansado, agotado) : to be knackered or beat"

Someone else came up with, to feel like shit.

Do tell.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

VERY good my dear Colin! Surprised you didn't know that famous one already.

If I used capital letters there, it was to give a little emphasis only. This silly box I'm writing in does not allow me to use cursive or to underline!

Candide said...

Cursive is created by applying HTML tags, as one can read below this silly box

Write < i> to open and < /i> to close the section you want in italics, but without any spaces.

Now you can play with b and a, too. Maybe also a u is possible.

PS: Sorry I shouted.

Anonymous said...

Or < BLINK>something< /blink> to really get someone´s attention. maybe that doesnt work on blogger...

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