Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A few years ago, I discussed with my Spanish dinner colleagues who the first female Spanish president would be and when this was likely to happen. My guess was Esperanza Aguirre, sometime around now. To be honest, this wasn't hard, as there wasn't exactly a host of other candidates. Anyway, she retired a couple of years ago but has re-surfaced as the PP candidate for mayor of Madrid. And, as was with Boris and David Cameron, she's a real problem for her nominal boss, President Rajoy. As if he didn't have enough on his plate, what with several corruption trials involving his party and 2 new parties (Ciudadanos and Podemos) breathing down his neck. It could end in fisticuffs. And possibly tears. But it won't be the 'Iron Lady' doing the crying. Mark my words. At least she's an anglophile and speaks perfect English. Has even done so to the Houses of Parliament. 

Talking of battles . . . the Greece situation continues to baffle. If you're in the same boat as me, here's a useful educated view of the stand-off. It seems hard to disagree that, rather like the Ukraine peace deal, "the interim deal agreed in February failed to address the true nature of Greece’s crisis and is drifting towards collapse." Or that, in a dialogue of the virtually-deaf, "The two sides are talking past each other." Interesting times, with the Greeks remaining unpredictable until last, and with the EU (i. e. the Germans) betting on them not pulling the plug on their membership but, instead, accepting 'humiliation'. Vamos a ver.

Here's a sentence from one of yesterday's papers, demonstrating my point about the fashionable phrase 'back in the day' - Apple is trying to persuade millions of people that the latest must-have device is a watch, the same sort of thing their parents used to wear back in the day. Incidentally, the same article also said that Apple has the international press feeding out of its fingers. This is called 'creating a buzz' apparently.

Spanish has a formal way of saying 'You' - Usted (oosteth) plus the third person singular. I never use it and I ask people - such as bartenders - not to do it to me, as I find it very confusing. So it was last night that I found myself dishonouring my GP by calling him tu, whereas he was honouring me by calling me usted. Surely the wrong way round I thought. But apparently not; my neighbour, the lovely Ester, told me this is normal as doctors do this to create distance between themselves and their patients and to keep things impersonal. I told you it was complicated. By the way, I also learnt from Ester that, while you can tutear someone, you can't ustedear someone. The latter verb doesn't exist. Why on earth not? What a mess some languages get themselves into.

Finally . . . Should you be anywhere near, Friday is octopus day in Pontevedra. Several bars or restaurants feature an outdoor set-up where the creature is boiled in large copper vats and then served - if you're unlucky a la gallega - on wooden platters. I suspect all the octopusists come down from the town of O Carballiño, way up in the Galician hills, which has the reputation of offering the finest octopus in Spain. Yes, that's right, to get the best you have to go inland, miles from the coast. I guess it makes sense to someone. Perhaps it's because they've had an annual Octopus Fiesta since 1964. Back in the day.

4 comments:

Anthea said...

you have to "tratar de usted" - it's another level of formality!

Les Revenants said...

Even 'back in the day' when I spent some time living in Spain, I never got to a level of competence with the language where I could comfortably use 'Usted.' It's harder though with Japanese. First, they do not use the equivalents of 'I' or 'you' etc anywhere near as much as in English (I know they can be dropped in Latin languages too). Second, there are a whole bunch of 'honorifics' you are expected to master in order to be able to talk, and be recognized, as an adult.

Colin Davies said...

Thanks, folks.

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