Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Getting beyond 'bueno'

There's more to life than Black and White and, likewise, much more than Good and Bad, so why is it, whenever we come across something we like in Spanish, the only word that seems to come to mind is 'bueno'?

It's maddening, when you've just finished a meal in a restaurant in, say, Barcelona, the waiter comes over and asks if everything was OK, and you either mumble 'bueno' or fail back to English to express yourself.
So, while I'm not a great fan of word-lists, I think it's important to have a selection of adjectives to hand, which you can call on to push your descriptions and comments well beyond the trusty 'bueno'

Let's start with the basics
the best= el/la mejor

now we begin to improve . .
nice or pleasant=agradable
superb=estupendo ó magnífico
awesome=alucinante (literally, hallucinatory ;¬)

or, if it's not so good . .

So, how about those food words?
tasty=sabroso, rico
delicious=delicioso, riquisimo
yummy/scrumptious=de rechupete
spicy/seasoned/hot=condimentado, sazonado, picante

If you're introduced to someone's kids, or shown a photo, it's nice to be able to pay compliments.
beautiful=hermosa, bella
pretty=linda, bonita
attractive=atractivo, guapo
likeable=simpático, majo,amable

Don't forget that most of these can be used with masculine or feminine endings, but I wouldn't call a six-foot body builder 'bonito', if I were you!

Finally, harking back to my previous post about using 'pasarlo' to describe the fun you're having, here are a few related adjectives.
exciting=emocionante, apasionante

Of course, while I've roughly grouped the adjectives, a lot of them can be used to describe a variety of things, people, food, places etc. , just like we'd use excellent, nice, pleasant etc. in English.

Just one last thing NOT to say, when the waiter asks you how the food was, and that's 'muy bien'
Don't forget - 'bien' means 'WELL', not 'GOOD'
¡Hasta la próxima!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Tweet me

For those of you who found me via some other route, here's a great way to keep up to date with new postings. I always announce updates on Twitter, so all you need to do is click the new 'Follow me on Twitter' icon, to get a message, every time this blog is updated!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sing a song of Spanish

I've recently discovered the music of a very talented Mexican singer, by the name of Julieta Venegas.
Apart from producing very catchy tunes like 'Eres para mi', 'Andar conmigo' and 'El presente', she also has very clear diction, and the lyrics of her songs are quite easy to follow.

While searching YouTube for videos of her music, I came across http://www.youtube.com/buenoentonces
which is a YouTube channel dedicated to helping promote the Spanish language by presenting videos featuring songs in Spanish with the lyrics displayed, Karaoke style, so you can follow along.

Beneath the Spanish lyric is an English translation, accompanied by annotations to help with understanding.
For instance, the Spanish might say 'Tengo', the English says 'I have', and the annotation says 'Tener +yo'
Parts of each phrase, e.g. verbs and nouns, are highlighted in different colours in both Spanish and English, to help you identify them.

The songs I have listened to (including Julieta's) have obviously been chosen because their lyrics are not too complicated for Learners.
So, if you want to have some fun, while learning some new vocabulary, check it out!
!Hasta la proxima! 

Water, water, everywhere . .

In a recent post, I covered the subject of feminine nouns which take a masculine article, simply because it sounds better.
Unfortunately, I missed THE most common noun,probably one of the first you will learn when starting to speak Spanish  . . EL agua!
Yes, water is feminine, but takes the masculine 'el', so 'cold water' is 'agua fria', but 'water' is 'el agua'
Apologies for the omission ;¬)

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Learn Spanish, become a better person

I've recently started listening to the Notes in Spanish Intermediate podcasts, available via iTunes.
They're a few years old now, they make references to 2008, but well worth a listen for practice,and new vocabulary.
The podcasts are produced by Ben Curtis and Marina Diez. Marina is a native Spanish speaker, born in Madrid, while Ben hails from a village near Oxford, and has lived in Spain since 1998. The two work very well together. At the time of the recordings, Ben had about 9 years of studying Spanish, and had met Marina during intercambios.
What's encouraging, in a way, for learners, is that, even after all that time, he still made some of the same basic mistakes that you and I continue to make, after a much shorter period of study.

Common examples are
forgetting the gender of nouns
forgetting to make adjectives agree with the gender of nouns
using the preterite, instead of the imperfect, and vice-versa

Marina good-naturedly corrects most of his mistakes, which he gracefully accepts, after all no-one wants to teach their listeners bad habits.
Marina has a beautifully clear voice, contrasting with Ben's occasionally barbaric anglicisation of some vowels (I'm sure he's much better, a few years on)

I wholeheartedly  recommend these podcasts, which are pitched very accurately at Intermediate Level and cover a wide range of interesting subjects, from Spanish Cinema, music, the Mafia, and holidays to eating out and comparisons of country and city life.
Just as soon as I've finished listening to the series, I'm going to try out the Advanced podcasts.
Beginners need not feel left out, as there is a series of podcasts for you, too.

Finally, to the point of the title.
Ben's, and our, mistakes tend to be ignored by most Spaniards. They just seem to be so genuinely pleased that you have made the effort to learn their language that you will often be told ¡Hablas muy bien!, which is a tremendous boost,especially when you feel like you're struggling.
What the experience does tend to do, though, is to endow you with a little humility, when dealing with foreigners.
Your local Asian shopkeeper probably speaks three languages, at least two for the Cook in your local cantonese takeaway, and the waiters so many British tourists abuse on their holidays in the sun can probably get by in most of the West, and some of the East European languages, as well.
Learning to speak Spanish gives you an insight into the work they have had to put in, and some of the difficulties they will have faced, hopefully making you a little more patient, open-minded and tolerant of those around you.
(End of Sermon :¬)

¡Hasta luego!