Saturday, May 2, 2009

Learning and re-learning Spanish

It's no secret that, with 21 countries that count Spanish as their official language, there would be differences between these countries regarding which words mean what. Take the Ferris wheel, for example. In Spain the word is "noria," but in Colombia it's called the "rueda de Chicago" (literally, "Chicago wheel") probably because the first Ferris wheel was exhibited in Chicago in 1893 (see  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferris_wheel). By the way, the "noria" in the picture was taken at the April Fair (Feria de Abril) in Seville.

When I first studied Spanish in high school I learned that the word for socks was "calcetines" and the word for women's stockings was "medias," but when I got to Mexico the word "medias" was used for both, as it was in Colombia. I didn't get to Spain until 2006, and while conversing with a Spaniard on the return flight to Philadelphia, I used the word "medias" to mean socks, and he corrected me, bringing back that word "calcetines" that I hadn't heard since high school.

I found that people in Spain were not fond of Anglicized Spanish words or English words mixed in with Spanish. Another Spaniard I met corrected my use of "ok" in a sentence, something that I found common in other places I visited. They would probably cringe if I used the word "lonchar" for "eat lunch" instead of "almorzar", or "checar" or "chequear" to mean to check or review instead of "revisar." However, the Spaniards are not free of English or Anglicized words in their Spanish either. The word for "ticket" can be "boleto" or "tiquete," but in Spain you hear it called "el ticket." While in a restaurant in Seville I found that the waitresses were confused when I asked for "salsa de tomate," which is used in Colombia to mean ketchup, but they understood perfectly when I used the word "ketchup." I thought it was funny because not too long before that, there was a popular song called "Aserejé" sung by a Spanish female singing group called "Las Ketchup"! For more information on "Aserejé" or "The Ketchup Song, " see the article in Wikipedia

For tips on languages, see my webpage on language learning.
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