Sunday, April 22, 2007

Words, words, words

You see, this is the kind of thing guaranteed to drive any foreigner crazy. Because you know, and I know, that "pato" is the Spanish for "duck". We are supposed to believe that the ducks have their own palace? I have my doubts; honestly, I do. My personal theory is that this apparent "municipal sign" will later be revealed to be a piece of performance art perpetrated by the city of Granada as a kind of passive-aggressive act of revenge on the foreign tourists to whom it owes its livelihood, and with whom it cultivates an ongoing love-hate relationship.

Alternatively, it could be like Venice in the old times when there was the palace of the duck and the palace of the dog (my Italian is a bit rusty).

Who is this fine fellow? ¡Why, it is Ozzy, the bear of liquorice! For a long time, the word "regaliz" gave me trouble, as it seems to come from nowhere, with no clue at all as to its meaning. Then, last week, when I finally made the realization (¡duh!) that "Argel" is Spanish for "Algeria", "regaliz" suddenly made more sense to me. If you think about it, all the liquorice consonant sounds are there, just randomly jumbled to confuse non-native speakers. I really wish they wouldn't do that.

Other random word-related musings.
Words I like: musulmán, for moslem; pájaro carpintero, for woodpecker ; okupa, for squatter.

Words I dislike: paloma, for pigeon. Who do they think they are kidding? Everyone knows that paloma means dove. To extend its meaning to include flying vermin is an insult to doves the word over.

Things I found out the hard way this week: the phrase for "breast cancer" is not "cancer de pechuga". It is "cancer de mama" (no accents in that last word). And if you are tempted to double up on the second 'm' (as I was), remember the rule of Caroline.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Flying vermin or not, Doves and Pigeons are actually of the same Order (COLUMBIFORMES)and Family (COLUMBIDAE.) In fact, the English name for pigeon is "Rock Dove" so you might need to cut the Spainiards some slack for referring to them as "Paloma bravia." That said they are still pestilential uric acid factories (the pigeons, not the Spainiards.)