Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cataluña cash; The national motto; Useful Spanish words?; Train security; Beggars; A nice song; & La Ultramar.

Accusations of political corruption hit the Spanish media headlines yesterday, a short while before the government there holds an election that's really a proxy for independence. A coincidence? I rather doubt it. More likely the Dirty Tricks Department in Madrid has taken a break from Gibraltar and moved to something far more important - calling the kettle black.

Yesterday I saw a T-shirt bearing the Spanish national motto - albeit in English:-
Fuck rules

Talking of Castellano . . . Is there really a Top Ten of Spanish words that English lacks? Well, The Local thinks so. They're:-
Espabilar
Maruja
Estreno
Cachondeo
Pagafantas
Guiri
Autónomo
Trapichear
Empalagar
Desvelado
Entrecejo
You can see what these 10 words mean here. All 11 of them. After which, you might wonder whether Spanish has anything like the word 'barrel-scraping'. Or even 'counting'.

How long before the selfie craze grinds to a halt? Yesterday I saw a couple walking backwards and wielding a stick to take pictures of a friend walking forwards scattering pigeons. Now, if she'd been machine-gunning them, I could have seen the point of this selfie. Which wasn't really a selfie,of course. Just 2 friends taking a video of you. Like they had a camera of their own.

I've wondered(worried?) for years about security on trains. So, last month I was pleased to see that, down at Tiffintown and Vigo stations, they'd introduced X-ray machines and changed access to the platforms so you had to go past them. Less encouraging was the shut-down of the machines the following day. And the fact that you could, anyway, by-pass the changed access and the machines by waiting for someone to exit through the old door and walking through it as they did. I wonder if the event in Paris will lead to a re-think of the re-think.

Beggarly Notes: 1. A newish addition to our catalogue - a woman in her 50s(?) and reasonably well turned out - last night hassled me while licking an ice-cream cone. She could hardly get her words out. I had no such difficulty; 2. The sweaty-shirted bag-man who stands all day in one quarter of our main square can sometimes be seen in another part of town, sitting on a bench and reading a paper he's fished out of a rubbish bin. He was there last night, with 10-15 variably-sized plastic bags of stuff. And reading a mobile phone catalogue. Good times or very bad times, then.

Finally . . . My daughter, Faye, left for Madrid yesterday afternoon. Which was saddening. Then again, three troublesome episodes of my life ended cleanly and happily. As the estimable (but dead) John Denver sang:- Some days are diamonds; some days are stones. And some days are both, of course

Finally, finally. . . . This is Tiffintown's newish, fashionable restaurant, in the environs of our not-so-newish but still ugly Edificio 6(Building 6) of our museum. I will definitely write my review on Tripadvisor later today. Now, in fact.



19 comments:

Alfred B. Mittington said...


Unless that Someone who opened the back door for you is a Schyzo, he should not be referred to as They.

But then you're still improving the language, aren't you??

CynicAl

Colin Davies said...

Do you mean 'schizo' and 'they'?

So, what would you write, Mr Corrector? 'He or she'?? (S)he?? All ugly and clumsy options, though favoured by old-timers, especially those born in the 19th century. Of which you appear to be one of the few remaining. Thank-God time will solve the problem. Or 'Time' as you'd write, I fear.

As you well know - or bloodywell should by now - this is common use in English, though maybe not in your grammar books. Largely because it's a lot nore euphonious than the above 'correcter' options.

Alfred B. Mittington said...


A One cannot be a They, since They is per definition a plural pronoun.

LinguisticAl

Colin Davies said...

Borrow my book from our mutual Dutch friend and wise up.

Or talk to the arbiters of English usage. Who are - well, bless my cotton socks! - me and the other men in the street.

if you don't want to read my book, ask Peter if he could, on my behalf, shove it up your ancient and old-fashioned arse!

Alfred B. Mittington said...


Judging by your proficient use of 4-letter words, it will be obvious to all that you are a veritable paragon of civilized style and use of the English language…

ABM

Colin Davies said...

Arse, like hair, may have 4 letters but it is not, my friend, a four-letter word. You again betray your antiquity and lack of familiarity with colloquial English.

Stop fucking bothering me!

Q10 said...

Alfie, you should be encouraged by the fact that in 2008, 62% of "the panel" (See below) agreed with you, however Colin will point out that this percentage was reducing each year.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/they

By the way Alfie, I am sure you will have noticed that George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950), a fellow Nobel Prize-winner for literature, agreed with you.

So you are in good company dear boy.

Finally, I declare this most enlightening spat, to be a draw.

Colin Davies said...

There are several pedants and obsessists who agree with them but I wouldn't want to have any of them as a friend. Especially Mr Mittington, whoever he really is, hiding behind that preposterous name.

Colin Davies said...

"The trend then is clear. Writers who feel they are overturning convention by using 'they' with a singular antecedent should bear in mind that much of their audience may not care, and with time this population is almost certain to grow.'

Exactly. BTW . . .Who or What TF is the 'Usage Panel'? I guess I could look it up but can't be bothered.

Many thanks, Q10.

Alfred B. Mittington said...


Thank you, Q10, for this fine tip. A nice exposé of the problem, that; even if it is utterly objective, and therefore undecided, hence - to my taste - a little coward. If educated linguists do not dare to speak their minds and their opinions plainly and clearly, then what use are they? We might as well decide the rules of gammar by referendum, and let every fish wife and beer-bellied plebeian vote upon matters they do not understand…

But to defy the Colins of this world just one more time: the site informs us that 59 % of its panel accepts the sentence "Everyone returned to their seats". Beautiful. Wonderful. Sound perfectly acceptable, doesn't it? But would somebody kindly turn that sentence from the past tense into the present tense?

Let's see what comes out, and what we find acceptable then…

Yours, CanonicAl

Colin Davies said...

FF'sS:

When the bell rings, everyone returns to their seat/seats. Both perfectly acceptable. Get with the language, Alfie. Jump out of your ivory tower. Preferably onto a spike! Better than the clumsy 'his or her' seat.

Understanding is everything. Grammatical correctness has long ceased to be in English. Don't know about other (anally-retentive) European languages. Including whatever yours is.

Alfred B. Mittington said...


My point was not the 'his/her' versus the 'their'. For your information: all of those remain unchanged when the tense changes.

My point was that you add an '-s' to the verb in the present tense. Which implies plainly and decisively that you consider 'Everyone' to be singular noun.

Nobody says, or accepts 'When the bell rings, everyone return to their seat.'

QED

My ivory tower is a most comfortable place, with a beautiful view of the chaos beneath.

UnequivocAl

Colin Davies said...

That's exactly what they do say. At least when they speak English in Britain. Have you ever been there?

That's my last word on this. It's a waste of time dealing with someone lecturing out of woeful ignorance.

Alfred B. Mittington said...



So - if they all say it, then why did you not write it?

You are aware, are you not, that every time you use an ad hominem argument - which you do with some frequency (to put it mildly) - you undermine your position terribly?

RhetoricAl

Colin Davies said...

As you know, I don't normally. But in your case it's both inevitable and satisfying. On top of my real comment, of course.

And you surely now by now how to avoid it . . .

Colin Davies said...

P. S. There's no way to weaken your puny arguments . . .

Colin Davies said...

know by now . . .

Alfred B. Mittington said...



You do need to have the last word, don't you? Even if it's lousily spelled?

ComicAl

Julia Gonzalez Perez said...

Thanks for the article because i was loking for some words in spanish to learn spanish fast, thanks!

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