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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Language Learning: Part I

Native Spanish speakers who are learning English often have problems with the different pronunciations of these words. They can be confused in both listening and speaking. However, some are likely to cause a bigger problem than others. I've tried to reassure my friends that, as they already have a bit of an accent, we will understand what they mean to say.

A Short List:

-Kitchen and Chicken

-Sheet and Shit

-Beach and Bitch

-Wander and Wonder

-Bear, Bird, Beer, and Beard.
This one even has a game associated with it. Each word has a corresponding hand motion. The speaker has to match the name with his or her partner's hand motion. The one for Bear is as if you had a bear paw and were batting something. The one for Bird is as if you were flying. The one for Beer is as if you were drinking a beer. And the one for Beard is as if you are stroking your beard. Try it yourself!

- When -ed is at the end of words, it is sometimes pronounced as with the e as its own syllable when we would drop it and directly say the d.

-I've also noticed confusion in the meanings of the words earn and win. In Spanish, they are both ganar. Sometimes those learning English will say, "How much money do you win (at your job)?"

-Another common problem is using the word to make for situations that need to do or to have. In Spanish, the verb is often just hacer, which translates as to make. Some common sentences are, "Let's make a party!" or "Let's make yoga!"
(The correct version being, "Let's have a party!" and "Let's do yoga!")
The worst part about this one is that sometimes I catch myself saying it the wrong way too because I'm trying to match the speaker's level of English!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Some Differences Between Spain and the US: Part I


In Spain:

-Facebook is used more often to communicate with friends

-This is probably due to the fact that unlimited texts plans are not common

-People use many more !!!! and ??? when texting or writing on Facebook walls

-Cell phone companies do not give upgrades every two years or with the signing of a new contact. Buying a new phone is a big deal

-I usually get news headlines through Facebook’s news feed and my friend's statuses. Such things as, finding out if the Chargers won, what celebrity has died recently, what the weather is like, etc.

-News about celebrities is much less prevalent. I usually have no idea what is happening, unlike the US where I am inundated with information

-The best time to talk to people at home is later in the evening, which can lead to very late nights

-There are many locutorios where you can use the Internet, or make cheap international phone calls

-Magazines are bought from newsstands, which are green and very easy to find

-Movies, unless they are a blockbuster like Harry Potter, come out a few months later

-There are many more films from other European countries

-Films can be VOS (original language) or dubbed in Spanish

-English books are not easily available and they are very expensive. They are bought from England (priced in the pound) then transferred to Europe and priced in the Euro, which increases the price. Then the Euro must be converted into dollars and the price is increased again. A Kindle comes in handy!

-In order to exchange money through banks, checks are not written. You give the person your complete bank account number and the money is taken out or transferred in

-It is necessary to carry change, as the 1 and 2 Euro coins are used often

Look for future editions on grocery shopping, my apartment, training and more.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Mystery Solved

I was driving to practice a few weeks ago and heard this song. I found it intriguing, as the girl kept repeating, spoken-word style, 'What the Fuck.' Curiously, it was uncensored, which maybe isn't that unusual outside of the US. My interest was piqued when she started talking about being in Spain and partying, etc. This girl was explaining part of my life here! I didn't think to Shazam it (and likely my phone was in the trunk anyway). All I could remember is that she said, 'what the fuck,' and talked about Spain. So I tried to find it on google. But of all the lines of a song to remember when you don't know it's title, I think 'What the Fuck' might only be behind 'I Love You' as the worst lyric of all time.

I don't know how I finally accomplished it. (Well, I do. A youtube search of "what the fuck," Spain, song, party). Still, not an easy mystery to solve.

Check out why this song caught my attention:

Another Taste of Spanish Culture

The common perception of European music by Americans is that it is some sort of bad techno/house music. However, a lot of the songs are American imports, though not often the heavy-duty rap. The rest are from England or a variety of other European countries (i.e. David Guetta from France). In fact, I actually quite enjoy the "Euro" music when I am over here. It is danceable, but doesn't feel like it requires full-on dirty hip-hop dancing. The same songs are repeated here ad nauseum, just as in the United States, yet somehow it takes songs even longer here to be pulled from the rotation. For example: The Black Eyed Peas' I've Gotta a Feeling still draws cheers whenever it comes on in a club. (Why? I don't know). The radio station in Barcelona dedicated to this music is RadioFlaixbac (pronounced Radio Flash Back). Among the people I know, this is the most popular radio station. You can check the top 30 songs on the website (careful: it's in Catalan!).

For your listening/viewing pleasure, here are two more recent Euro songs that are popular right now:

Mr. Saxobeat by Alexandra Stan

 Hello by Martin Solveig and Dragonette

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Halloween, for the Rest of the World

One of the many Sitges costumes

            On Sunday, I travelled by train to Sitges, a small beach town just south of Barcelona. This weekend was Carnaval and for that Sitges is the place to be. The best thing I can liken it to is Halloween in West Hollywood.

Carnaval is a much bigger holiday in Spain than Halloween. Although people know what Halloween is, most people don’t celebrate it. When I went out for Halloween, I’d say only one in ten people were dressed in costume. Carnaval, on the other hand, feels much more like Halloween in elementary school, where everyone is dressed as something, including the adults. It was fun to walk around this weekend, as I saw a great variety of costumes.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Sampling of Spanish Culture

Here is an advertisement that I often see when watching TV in Spain. Imagine not knowing ahead of time that this is an IKEA ad. Enjoy.