Saturday, June 15, 2013

The latest issue of The Economist contains a review of "The Story of Spanish" - The languages of the Celts and the Iberians left little mark on Spain. The Phoenicians were no more successful, although they bequeathed a memorable nickname to posterity: I-shepan-ha, “land of hyraxes” (more familiar as Hispania). The Romans had better luck. . . . It was never obvious that Castilian would one day become Spanish. Of the kingdoms that reconquered Spain for Christianity, Castile was one of the least important. Neighbouring Asturias and Navarre were originally much bigger. But Castile’s place astride the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela helped it grow richer and more important, and after its merger with Léon it leapfrogged the others to lead the reconquest. . . . The official tongue of nearly two dozen countries, Spanish is one of the most important languages in history—but it punches far below its weight. . . . Although it is a single language, Spanish varies considerably. This befuddles advertisers who would aim to sell to the entire Spanish-speaking world, like the shampoo-maker who discovered that 'cabello chino' (“Chinese hair”) means curly hair in almost all Latin America save Ecuador, where it means straight hair. More here.

I said the other day that France wanted 'less Europe' for itself but more for everyone else, under the guise of more EU 'economic government'. The Economist puts this slightly differently; it sees an ailing France calling for harmonised taxes and convergent welfare systems as a French perception that the answer to her own lack of competitiveness is for everyone else to raise their labour and welfare costs. Germany, it seems, doesn't agree. Hence the rift in the Franco-German alliance that underpins the EU. The result, predicts the Economist, will be half-baked solutions emerging from the mid-year summit, most obviously as regards the banking union which everyone agrees is essential to save the euro, if not the EU. But which no one really wants. Or, like St Augustine, not just yet at least. 

Quotes of the Week
  • We don't grow up; we just grow old.
  • He is a man of splendid abilities, but utterly corrupt. Like rotten mackerel by moonlight, he shines and stinks.
  • The Entente Cordiale is the expression of tendencies which are slowly but surely making war between the civilised communities of the world an impossibility - The Economist, June 1913. 

    Well,there was lots more I was going to write but I was invited next door at 9 for a dinner at 10 which actually started at 11 and I've just got home at 12.30. So, I leave you with more fotos of balconies . . . .


guiriguay said...

Nice balconies. I bet some interesting people have flung themselves off of those.

Anonymous said...

Hello Colin,

Cabello chino means "curly hair" in most Latin American countries save for Ecuador? I think the researcher should go back to his/her notes and review them again. One of the most important reasons why foreign companies advertizing in the Spanish language fail, and often times sound foolish, is because they rely on "expert research" from somebody who spent a few weeks trying to "master" the language.


SF Bay Area

Colin said...

Yes, I wondered whether she/he had got things the wrong way round. But this suggests not

Colin said...

Perhaps it's a South American joke. Cheers.

Colin said...

Perhaps it's a South American joke. Cheers.