Monday, August 27, 2012

I received my IBI(Council/Municipal) tax notice today. As forecast in yesterday's press, this has shot up to 500 euros a year, as the councils take the easy route to raising tax revenues. Many families across Spain are said to taking a leaf out of the Catholic Church's book and converting part of their house into a chapel. Like the Church, they then cease to be liable for the tax. Worth investigating, I guess.

Talking about economies, I fancy some families are saving on water, or even soap, this year. I don't recall a summer when body odour was such a regular feature of the streets. Though not quite as regular as the bloody accordionists.

Another thing I'm trying to stop my chica doing is folding my underpants into neat little squares. There can be no rationale for this other than having too much time on one's hands. Which is not the case in my house. I need the toilets done!

Reverting to the subject of easy languages – Both of my vistors who guessed correctly that English was the easiest language to learn had been teachers of this fine tongue. And both made the point that English was very easy in some ways, as well as being very forgiving to those speaking it not so well. That's as maybe but I take my hat off to anyone who masters phrasal verbs. These, by the way, were something I'd never heard of until I came to Spain. Much to the barely-concealed astonishment of my Spanish colleagues.

Sometimes you just can't take religion seriously. As when I read that:- The leader of an Amish splinter sect will stand trial today over allegations that he forced his followers to beat each other with paddles, made them sleep in chicken coops, had sex with married women to “cleanse them of the Devil”, and — most heinously — dispatched hit squads to cut off his enemies’ hair. I just love the idea that cutting of someone's beard is worse than knocking off his wife. And quite possibly his daughter(s).

Noise, noise, noise! Taking a quick drink (of water) in a café-bar this evening, I was driven to the outside tables by the cacophony being generated by the standard Spanish show of 3 to 4 women screaming insults at each other. Only to find that the sound was being piped to a loudspeaker above my head.

To be more positive . . . Stimulated by my citation of a bit of verse in Gallego, a reader has kindly nominated this site, where four Galician emigration ballads are translated into English.

Finally . . . Documentary proof of how efficient the Spanish get when it comes to having fun. Here's a two-page guide to the events of next week-end – the Feira Franca. Or Medieval Fair. 

And we've also been given leaflets on the Tour d'Espagne, which hits us tomorrow and the day after. Not quite sure why we get it twice on our streets. One of which has had to be re-tarmaced for the occasion. But, hey, I'll be cheering on Chris Froome for all I'm worth. Shame we've no Union Jack to wave.


Bill said...

IBI - in my part of Spain, this tax has increased by 15.87% this year, councils have to plug their deficits somehow or other. My IBI tax is a lot lower than what you pay, but I expect that my property, as a holiday home, is much smaller. What is the percentage increase where you are?

English language - a large number of people all over the world speak English tolerably-well or at least can make themselves understood in it, even if they are non-native speakers, but in my experience there are very few non-native speakers (those for whom English is not their first language) who can get beyond a certain 'barrier' and one of those barriers is certainly the 'mystery' of phrasal verbs. I know a lot more about the detailed grammar of certain other languages (French and Arabic plus, to a lesser degree, Vietnamese) than I do English, but learning those languages and the principles underlying their grammars as well as a period of designing training courses given in English for native and non-native English speakers brought home to me very forcefully the pitfalls inherent in poorly chosen phraseology when endeavouring to transmit 'meaning' across a variety of cultures and language-groups. A quick 'Google' search threw up this excellent introduction to the topic of phrasal verbs; most native English-speakers are barely aware of the subtleties of their own language, which can prove so difficult for non-native speakers trying to master it:

Azra said...

Incidentally, my former students really struggled with learning Phrasal Verbs in English. I kept on trying to explain to them that there's a huge part of culture attached to the meaning of some phrases, but they kept on trying to define the phrasal verbs one word at a time - and of course, hilarity ensued :)

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