Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cristina's Trifecta

Over my delicious dinner of Chicken Maryland*, a delicacy that I had previously only known from my youth in Ireland, but which, I am delighted to report, is a staple menu item here in Buenos Aires, I attempted to improve my Spanish by reading "El Pais". In an otherwise fairly boring article about la Presidenta Cristina's (Kirchner's) efforts to push through anti-monopoly legislation affecting the telecommunications industry the following concluding sentence caught my eye: (Cristina is responding, peeved, to suggestions by reporters that her husband Nestor, who preceded her in the presidency, was pulling the strings)

"Como si yo fuera una persona que no decide y quien decida sea Nestor Kirchner", respondio, enojada.

("As if I were an indecisive person, and the one who decides were Nestor Kirchner", she replied, annoyedly.)

That italicized sentence, containing, as it does, three separate uses of the subjunctive, leaves me slack-jawed in admiration. With just a tinge of despair. You see, this is the kind of sentence I can only aspire to. Never in my life could I manage to get all those three subjunctives correct. I would certainly have managed that "Como si yo fuera" (denoting a condition deemed by the speaker to be impossible), probably even that "sea Nestor" (another supposition that the speaker deems unreal). But that "quien decida" (where the subjunctive is used to denote a lack of specificity about the person who is actually the decider) - not in a month of Sundays!


*: you could look it up; most versions include a deep-fried banana and pineapple rings. 'Nuff said.


Hieronymous said...

I'm just impressed that you were able to decode that thicket of subjunctive vines.

Mafiosomatic said...

It's kinda the same in Italian. As a foreigner you can learn where, technically, you should use the subjunctive. But it never comes all that naturally, and in terms of emphatic use you are on far safer ground with the modals and the 'condizionale'. If you drop the s-bomb you're never quite sure if it will go off in your face ...