Friday, 28 March 2014

The mysteries of the Spanish language

We have been living in this beautiful country for almost a year now and making slow progress at learning the language. All those conjugations, irregulars and the 26 different tenses have a very positive effect on my life, not to mention the dreaded subjuntivo…help!

There are however many expressions and words that make me smile. For example the fact that the Spanish, and especially the Andalusians love using the diminutive. It confuses the hell out of the poor Spanish speaker wannabe when every noun seems to have an –ita/eta or –illa/ella ending and it always takes a few seconds to realise that no, it’s not a new word, it’s an old one with a diminutive ending. It’s kind of like children’s talk in English when they say ‘doggie’ instead of ‘dog’ or ‘dolly’ instead of ‘doll’. It all sounds cute from the Spanish children’s mouth however when I go to the butchers and a huge, 50 something, stocky man with what looks like murder in his eyes asks me whether I want a ‘bolsita’ (bolsa - bag), I cannot help but be surprised, to say the least.

My other favourite part of the language is the way they create their shop names. They surely didn’t sit in a circle for days to think about them. All they do in most of the cases is to put a – ría ending behind the word. For this example:
Cerveza (beer) – cervecería (pub)
Fruta (fruit) – frutería (fruit&veg)
Pelo (hair) – peluquería (haridresser)
Carne (meat) – carnicería 
And the list goes on.

In the first months of our Spanish adventure we often walked down the street and spotted more and more examples for this rule which provided endless fun. You can imagine our surprise when we saw a shop with a huge sign in front of it that said 'ferreteria'. We curiously looked through the shop window to see whether they really sell ferrets but to our huge disappointment it was only a hardware shop. We had the same puzzled expression on our face when we saw a 'joyeria'. According to the above mentioned rule they should be selling 'joy' here but it turned out it was a jewelry shop. Anticlimax.

The best example is the one I got from the time I was looking for the Foreign Office in Seville´s Plaza España. I asked a lady to point me to the direction of the Oficina de Extranjeros when she asked back ‘You’re looking for the ‘Extranjería’? So next time I wanna buy some foreigners, I know exactly where I have to go!

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