Thursday, December 24, 2015

Hospital biz; Giving blood; Nuns in Spain; A Beautiful gaffe; & Galician nationalism.

HOSPITAL BUSINESS: I went for a couple of routine annual checks yesterday. Needless to say, I had to go through the ID-proving, insurance-card-producing, chit-signing & photocopying procedure twice. My first appointment was at 10.30 but even private hospitals here seem to operate on the basis of giving several patients the same time slot. There were 5 people when I arrived and about 10 when I left. Perhaps they were already way behind. I didn't get to see the doctor until 11.15 but, in compensation, I heard these useful phrases for the first time:-
  • Take a deep breath: Coge un aire fuerte. Lit. Take a strong breath.
  • Breathe normally: Respira normalmente.
  • Breathe out: Echa lo. Lit, 'Throw it out'. It's a versatile verb, echar. Used with taking a siesta as well. Inter alia.
Narurally, I left my umbrella in the waiting room and had to go back for it. This was unfortunate. For, when I'd arrived, I'd been asked if I'd drunk a lot of water in advance. I'd said not, thinking: “WTF didn't someone mention this to me before”. So, I'd been compelled to drink a litre of very cold water as fast as possible, which gave me nausea. Worse, as the doctor pressed on my bladder I felt a very strong urge to pee and, once I was dressed, I had an urgent need for a toilet. The last thing I needed was to have to first retrace my steps. Why didn't I go to the toilet first?, I hear you ask. Well, because it was on another floor and I'd already discovered the lifts took an eternity. I'd used the PROHIBIDOS stairs to get down to the Imaging section but didn't fancy emerging via the door right next to the nurses' station. But the worst news of the morning was that the pretty nurse in the Lab wasn't the one to greet me with her smile and chat; it was some bloody new guy. I didn't even get to see my friend, Miguel – the super-hyper efficient blood sucker. So it was a good thing I was only dropping off a sample and didn't need to donate blood. Which reminds me . . .

DONATING BLOOD  For those who know nothing of the British comedian, Tony Hancock, here he is in his classic sketch on this theme. He was heavily drinking by the time he did this and averse to learning his lines. If you look, you can see him reading from cards beside the camera. In fact, in one scene you can briefly see the edge of the card. Nonetheless, it's one of his best. He later committed suicide, of course. Well, he could hardly have done it earlier, could he? . . .

LITTLE PEOPLE: When I came out of the hospital, it was to find myself behind 3 nuns, 2 of them supporting the one in the middle. The 2 outriders were tiny and the nun in the middle was minuscule, even taking into account the fact she was bent over. I tried to snap them all in the street but had to make do with just 2 of them at the clinic desk.

This was confirmation, as if I needed it, of my long-standing theory that any young woman below a certain height – say 150cm – is compelled by law to become a nun. It's about time, it seems to me, that this was repealed. Unless there's only room in Heaven for very short people. Like La Menina/The Dwarf.

SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI . . . Here's a cartoon for those who heard how poor Miss Colombia – a real beauty – had the Miss World crown snatched from her head after just 2 minutes of glory. Albeit for an even prettier Miss Philippines. Hope the former didn't have nits . 
. .
There's been a mistake. We gave some gold, frankincense and myrrh to Miss Colombia.

FINALLY . . . For the first time in ages, the number of 'Followers'to this blog moved yesterday; it went down by 3. My guess is these are Galicians rendered incandescent by a comment of mine elsewhere that it isn't worthwhile for me, as a foreigner, to learn Gallego on top of Spanish. Apparently some nationalists really believe that I should. Astonishing. But they do like to be angry with everyone else. Nature of the beast.


Maria said...

No, it's not necessary for you to learn Galego, but if I were living in a place where a second language was spoken, I would try to learn some of it, even if only from a book. The worldview of a people is generally apparent in how they express themselves. To me, a language is an intimate expression of the group which has developed it. Which is why I also think it is good for children to learn it in school. But, whereas I don't think it is necessary for every foreigner who moves here to learn it, I do think it is necessary for children growing up here to acquire knowledge and fluency in Galego as well as in Castellano. And if one of the parents is from another country, they should learn that language, as well. My daughter knows and speaks three languages, Galego, Castellano, and English. And it hasn't hurt her to learn the minority language.

Colin Davies said...

Well, of course, I have picked up some gallego and can usually read it easily. But you learn from conversation and hardly anyone in Pontevedra speaks it. The mayor refuses to speak anything else but makes an exception when he speaks to me. Which is charming.

I have learned 3 useless languages in the past, when I at least half-needed to. But there's no logical reason for me to learn gallego and all my (normal) Spanish friends agree with this. Especially as they prefer castellano themselves.

No it doesn't hurt kids. But, at school, learning the language and being taught in it takes time away from other subjects in a truly competitive environment, with very high unemployment. Gallego does no good for them outside Galicia in Spain. Brazil?? Portugal?? Even worse job markets.

Plus all nationalists are annoying, other-hating, narrow-perspective people, on whom I spent/wasted many hours discussing/arguing these issues 10 years ago and getting nowhere. They like to define themselves against their 'enemies'. That is anyone who doesn't totally agree with them.

Maria said...

"learning the language and being taught in it takes time away from other subjects..."

Yes and no. It's simply one more language class. That means one more added hour if the Consellería de Educación had their act together. (Kids have plenty of vacation days - it wouldn't hurt them to have one more hour of class each day.) And if other subjects that are important for learning future job skills are taught in Castellano, they can also be taught in Galego. The kids are learning the skills, whatever the language they're being taught in. After all, kids who grow up learning languages only spoken in their own country learn the same skills as those taught in a country whose language is spoken elsewhere in the world.

No, I'm not a nationalist. I'm simply interested in languages, history, and cultural anthropology though I've never studied them. I wish I had, because it's knowledge that helps understand people and why they do what they do. I see language and its uses involved in that knowledge. And my opinion is that the more languages children learn, the better for them to understand other people. Which is why, since we have a second language in Galicia, I see it as a wonderful opportunity to help broaden their worldview.

Now, if only English were taught effectively!

Colin Davies said...

I realise your'e not a nationalist, Maria, and of course I sympathise with people who want to keep their language, anywhere in the world. But teaching kids in a non-maternal language can't be as effective as teaching them in their mother tongue. Especially as the rules of gallego change every yeat. I should put you in touch with a Dutch friend's son has the problems I'm talking about. My kids are too old to be here.

I agree totally with your second para,. having learned 6-7 languages. Albeit mostly sequentially, and with an adult understanding of grammar and its variable rules. But forcing something on people is another thing.

And the thrid, of course!

Eamon said...

When learning another language apart from your mother tongue one needs to have a desire to learn it otherwise it is just an exercise in memory training. Most school children who are obliged to learn a second language have no real desire to learn it. I studied classical Latin and French at school because they were compulsory but in life they were of no use at all for speaking to anyone. I did learn a lot of English grammar in the process so I gained in that respect. Here in A Coruña I hear a lot of Galego. My letters from the health department are in Galego only. When we have a meeting here in the building everyone speaks Galego at a hundred words a minute. In the shops a lot of the workers speak Galego to me automatically because they assume I am from here. If they are a woman I usually address them as xetosiña and respond with moitas grazas and that seems to please them. I am not fluent in Castellano and only know a little of Galego. I have lived here for ten years now but never had the intention of living here. My wife is from A Coruña and when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's I brought her home to die because that was her wish. The doctor said I could never look after my wife by myself and should go back to England but being Irish I am stubborn and won't be beaten so I am still here. My wife has been bedridden for six years and can't move or speak and has no reaction to most things. As as result I spend all day at home caring for her needs except when I take a walk for fifteen minutes each day and when I spend a short time at the supermarket. It is not often I have to speak to anyone so I don't get much oral practice. I don't have a great desire to learn Spanish like I should so I am the perfect example of a typical student learning a foreign language.

Perry said...


You, being a Scouser, will be familiar with the propensity of the northern Welsh to impose their dying language upon we English speakers. Thus, my visit to Porthmadog to ride on the Welsh Highland Railway was accompanied by sullen resentment that it was English enthusiasts who revived the railway after all, which brings visitors to a part of the UK that they would avoid like the plague, were it were not for the iron horse.

The same rigidity of thought seems to have taken root in the regions of Spain. Since Franco died, the regions have been flexing their language muscles. Fortunately, Spain is not Yugoslavia, a country with really only one language, Serbo-Croat, but three religions, because of history. Slovenia & Croatia are mainly Roman Catholic, from being part of the Roman Empire. Bosnia & Herzegovina has many Muslims from the years under Ottoman rule & Serbia is Orthodox from Russian influence.

It's a mystery!!!!!!

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

Olivia eugar said...
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