Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 12.12.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

  • I might be wrong but I rather get the impression that the Spanish media is revelling in things that are going wrong in Cataluña. Perhaps merely because there's a lot of coverage of the upcoming elections there.
  • Here's one current story.
  • On the elections . . . I wondered the other day if the support for Ciudadanos was rising simply because the spokeswoman for the party is glamourous. Well, I clocked this foto yesterday, which might answer my query:-

  • While the population of Spain is decreasing, the country’s food and beverage production is ramping up. The obvious implication is that exports must increase. To help streamline that transformation, the government seeks to increase marketing avenues as well as international contacts for producers. More on this here.
  • As per a long-standing tradition, Iberia pilots will be going on strike over the Xmas period. Or maybe they won't.
  • The music in my watering hole is usually good, supplied from the USA via the internet. But yesterday it was numerous Spanish cover versions of songs by the Beatles and other stars of the 60s. And it made for pretty horrible listening, I have to admit. Worst of all? Probably Jerry Lee Lewis's Jambalaya. Witness this. And, even worse, this.
The UK and Brexit
  • Whatever the UK media thinks, there was no doubt here in Spain about the outcome of last week's theatre: Britain Gives In was a typical headline
  • America is not a 'cause' in the same way as socialism. It is just America by itself, with the American way of life and opposition to un-American ways, and tremendous waste, and broadcasting and press and a movie industry – not to mention 2 political parties – which advertise a brand of materialism which is an insult to people not directly involved in American ideas and interests. There are few Americans who realise what agony it is to be asked to choose between loss of liberty and possessing liberty at the American price, which is that of having the standards and standard of living that are American. Probably Americans are right to see the great virtues that match the weaknesses of their system. But not to see how America does not speak for the rest of the world at present – in fact it could only do so by hearing the voice of the word – that of its poorest populations – is a fatality which affects even America itself. Perhaps this is an exaggeration. There was the Marshall Plan and there is private American generosity, and there are many good Americans. But all this does not make up for the great weakness that America judges others by her values, her interests, which prevents her from either understanding or being understood by the rest of the world. A pretty accurate description of Trump's America, you might think. So, it's interesting to note it was written in 1948, almost 70 years ago. Are things much better now?
Spanish and English
  • I'm occasionally told by Spaniards who don't speak much English that their native language has more nuances (matices) than mine. This might well be one of those national Spanish beliefs about themselves. Like their alleged poor ability to learn foreign languages. Anyway . . . Rightly or wrongly, I take this to mean that understanding Spanish words which have several meanings depends on the context. In contrast, English usually relies on different words with slightly varying meanings, all of them stolen from other languages. Hence the rather larger English vocabulary.
  • Something from El País here on our drought, in English.  It doesn't help that – despite earlier scares - 30% of water is still being lost during the supply process. The situation was slightly alleviated by the storm on Sunday which deposited many thousands of litres of water on the region - much of it on me in Vigo . . .
  • The number of those participating in the local flag-kissing I mentioned the other day was double last year's. I'm guessing a consequence of the Catalan developments.
  • I'm used to regular changes in the nature of shops in the little street of the bar I patronise. But this is the oddest arrival yet - a pet-washing facility:-

I wonder how long it will last.

  • It saddens me to report that these were the winners in a humour competition just held in the UK:-
  1. Why was Theresa May sacked as nativity manager? She couldn't run a stable government.
  2. Why don't Southern Rail train guards share advent calendars? They want to open the doors themselves.
  3. What's the difference between Ryanair and Santa? Santa flies at least once a year.
The consolation is that this was a competition in respect of 'jokes' for Christmas crackers. So, the bar was rather low.


jan frank said...

You feel that "English usually relies on different words with slightly varying meanings". In my opinion, English relies on various meanings using the same word but pronounced differently. For example "Yes" which can mean almost everything from "Yes, I simply adore chocolate" to "Yes, you must drop round some time" - and almost every shade of meaning in between the two.

Colin Davies said...

Well . . .Tone. I can't help wondering whether this isn't the issue of what the British see as politeness/diplomacy/consideration for others but which others see as stupid, unnecessary indirectness, ambiguity or even hypocrisy. Whatever . . . it takes a lifetime to acquire and understand. Assuming one lives among Brits . . .Don't give up.

Colin Davies said...

And read the book "Watching the English" . . . .

Perry said...

"Yes Minister" should be de rigueur for all who wish to learn English as she is spoke. There are so many wonderful snares awaiting the English language student (& (97% of all Anglophones).

"I resent the fact that the parcel of parts I ordered had to be resent".
"I bow in admiration at the bowyer's skill in fashioning a bow from a bough of yew. Cough. cough!

Meanings of the word "spell".
Cast a (magic) spell.
Spell a word.
A spell of work.
Relieve me for a spell.
She had the chic, efficient look that spells Milan.
This cold weather could spell trouble for gardeners.

Often silent letters in English are actually diacritic letters. This means that rather than being pronounced, they change the pronunciation of another syllable. Compare the words 'fin' and 'fine'. The 'e' isn't pronounced, but it changes the pronunciation of the vowel by lengthening it.

We use –gh– in very common words like: though, right, daughter, weigh, cough, brought, enough…
And we use it in common letter patterns: ough, augh, eigh, igh.
But why have we got these “stupid” looking and sounding words?
It’s all to do with the history of gh. though, right, daughter, weigh, cough, brought, enough… are very old Anglo-Saxon words, and we used to pronounce the ‘gh’ as a throaty hard sound like in the Scottish loch
Anglo-Saxon spellings (in brackets): daughter (dohtor), night (niht), light (liht), bright (beorht), dough (dāg), bough (bōh), rough (ruh)
But then the French invaded in 1066, and changed spellings. They added a ‘g’ the ‘h’ to reflect the hard ‘h’ sound. The ‘gh’ eventually became silent, or an end “f” sound. We leave the ‘gh’ in there to show the origins and history of the world.
–ough has seven sounds
Read this “Have you thought this through thoroughly enough?” (4 sounds in this sentence)
Sometimes the -gh at the end is silent sometimes it has a “f” sound.
1. through (“throo”)
2. cough, trough (“off”)
3. enough, rough, tough (“uff”)
4. dough, though, although (“doe, tho”)
5. bough (“bow”)
6. borough, thorough (“buro, thuro”)
7. bought, brought, fought, nought, ought, sought, wrought, thought (“ort”)
–augh normally sounds like “or”
daughter, naughty, slaughter, taught, haughty
but laugh/laughter is pronounced with a long or short ‘a’ “laff” or “larff”
–eigh normally sounds like “ay”
say, day eight, neighbour, weigh, weight, sleigh
But height rhymes with bite!!
–igh sounds like “eye”
in tie high, sigh, thigh,
-ight light, delight, sight, might, night, right, tight, flight