Wednesday, September 3, 2008

La lluvia en Sevilla es una maravilla

Long-time readers of this blog will recognize the title of this post as the Thpanish version of the infamous 'enry 'iggins phrase "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain". As my teachers in Salamanca explained, this is considered a good test phrase, because how a Spanish speaker manages the subtle "ll" sound is regarded as a measure of how well-spoken he or she is.

I regret to say, dear readers, that my Salmantine teachers would not be favorably impressed by the local pronunciation here in Buenos Aires. Somehow those lovely liquid "l"s are transformed into a regrettably sialoquent* shshushshing kind of a sound. Between my porteño teachers and all the Brazilian students "zhzhzhing" their way around the hallways at school, it is all I can do to hold on to the purity of my lithping Cathtilian pronunciation.

But I am doing the best I can. Assuming I return to the Don Quijote school in Madrid in November, I don't want to be the object of scorn and ridicule when I do so.

* sialoquent: spraying saliva when speaking (I could name certain graduate school professors, and a few professional colleagues, in his context, but it seems unkind to do so). The antonym of sialoquent is, of course**, xerostomic, xerostomia being one of the defining symptoms of Sjögren's syndrome.

** there is, of course, no "of course" about this at all; nobody in their right mind knows this kind of stuff. Somehow, over time, my mind has become a vast storehouse of obscure trivia and particularly useless bits of information. Not necessarily a blessing, I might add. I'd much rather be able to remember my phone number here in Buenos Aires, something that the presence of an eighth digit seems to make particularly hard to do.

1 comment:

Adam said...

If one remembers their Malcolm Gladwell correctly, they would know that the average human mind has a strange limit of 7, which is why phone numbers were left at seven digits. However, seeing as how your mind is far from average, and Malcolm could very well be the James Frey of cause/effect books (I'm still working on drumming up funding for a year-long fact-checking mission), I'm a little baffled as to how numbers, of all things, are slipping by you.