Sunday, 19 July 2015

Mahna Mahna, Spanish for Muppets?

I know I've mentioned the subject of accents before , but I've only just come across a word which has three different meanings, depending on how it's accented.

I saw a posting in the group 'Spanish on G+' (it's a Google+ Group) introducing the saying 'Más vale maña que fuerza'
It roughly translates as 'Brain is better than brawn', as maña can be translated as Skill, Knack, or Wits.

Well, as it happens, one of my favourite Spanish language Rock Groups is Maná, which means Manna.

So I thought I'd take a look in the dictionary and, guess what?
There's also an unaccented version of the word 'mana', which means 'a spring'
I guess it's a shorter version of 'manantial'

So, how's that?
All have different meanings - TOTALLY different meanings, and only an accent to differentiate them.

While on the subject of accents, I also recently saw a good explanation of why 'tu' sometimes has an accent, and sometimes doesn't
'Tú' means You
'Tu' means Your
'Tú me caes bién' - I like you
'Tu libro está en la mesa' - Your book is on the table.
The quickest way to remember is to relate 'tu' with 'su', which can also mean Your, but does not have an accented counterpart.

So, while we're doing accents, one of the examples above includes the word 'Está', which is the third-person present of the verb 'estar', not to be confused with 'esta', which means 'this', as in 'esta silla', 'this chair'.
It doesn't take to much remembering, as the heavy stress on the end of 'Está' is a giveaway :)
Finally, let's not forget 'él' and 'el' ,  'he' and 'the'
Él tiene el tiempo - he has the time

Oh, go on then, one more.
A little less commonplace.
What's the difference between 'más' and 'mas'?
Well, 'más' you will see a lot, to mean 'more'
'Mas' is not so common in modern language but can be used to mean 'but'
Example; 'Quería ir al centro mas no lo hice'
I wanted to go to the town centre, but didn't do it'

That's all for now.
Remember, to be understood, when writing Spanish, don't be a Muppet.
Don't forget the accents!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Time well spent, improving your Spanish

I've mentioned before how useful I find films, videos and series in Spanish, for improving my understanding, and as practise listening to different voices and regional accents.

I've also spoken about watching video with subtitles in English, or DVDs with the subtitles in Spanish, so you can simultaneously see what you're hearing.

Well, here's good news, especially if you're science fiction fans.

In February, Spanish TV channel RTVE launched a new series called 'El Ministerio del Tiempo'.
 It's a time-travel series, the main protagonists of which are a paramedic from 2015, a soldier from the 1700s, and a female university student from the 19th century.

The paramedic, Julián Martinez, is played by Rodolfo Sancho, who played King Fernando in 'Isabel', a Spanish historical drama, shown on UK TV with English subtitles last year.

The soldier, Alonso Entrerríos is played by Nacho Fresneda, and the student, Amelia Folch, is played by Aura Garrido, who played Valeria in the Spanish TV series 'Angel o Demonio' (also worth a watch HERE )

Apart from a solid cast, the storyline is actually pretty good but what makes it worth a watch, from a Spanish learning point of view is that it not only has Spanish subtitles, but also a complete transcript available, so you can watch, listen and read, at the same time.

You can find the complete series so far HERE and here's a few screenshots to give you an idea of what's on offer.

 You can start the video in a frame, and click 'ver transcripción' to have the transcript running up the side.

Or you can select subtitles using the 'Subt' button (Note: this may vary from device to device. On my Android tablet it appears as 'CC' for 'closed captions')
Clicking the bottom right icon selects full screen.

I did try to find 'Isabel' on the RTVE website too, but Series1 appears to have been removed, or at least the episodes don't play.

Make sure you watch 'El Ministerio del Tiempo' before the same happens!


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

I remain where you left me . . .

Well, it's been a while.
I can't believe it's three months since my last post, but I spend so much time keeping my own Spanish polished up (pulido) that I forget to find time to share the insights I pick up along the way.

I've been planning to write about today's subject for quite a while, so it's well overdue.

You're no doubt familiar with the verbs quedar (to stay) and dejar (to leave [something])
but they both have very frequently used colloquial meanings, which are very similar.

Normally, you'd say, for instance 'nos quedamos en casa' (we stayed at home) or 'dejé mis llaves en la casa' (I left my keys at home) and these are the simple, classroom, uses of the verbs,
However, in conversation, it's not unusual to hear someone say 'me dejas atónito' which literally means 'you leave me astonished'. The idea is that the other person has done, or said, something which amazes, or appals you.

There are literally dozens of expressions which can follow the verb 'dejar', but the inference is that the action of the other person has caused a change of state, which leaves you in a different condition to your condition, previous to whatever it is they said or did.

The simple structure is 'me' plus 'dejar' followed by an adjective
e.g. 'me dejas triste' - you have made/left me sad
'me dejaste entusiasmado' - you made/left me enthusiastic

but, you can also follow 'me dejas' with a descriptive phrase
e.g. 'me dejas sin palabras' - you have left me speechless
or 'me dejas queriendo mas información' - you leave me wanting more information

and let's not forget that the cause of the change in state may not be another person, but an object or occurrence
e.g. 'la muerte de su madre le dejó huérfano' - the death of his mother left him orphaned
'el ataque le había dejado preocupado' - the attack had left him worried
'el fracaso de su campaña le dejará sin ingresos' - the failure of his campaign will leave him with no income.
You will see from these examples that the construction can be used in a number of tenses.

Closely allied to this use of 'dejar' is the colloquial use of the verb 'quedar'.
It has pretty much the same meaning, and suggestion of a change of state and can also be followed by adjectives, descriptive phrases or even verbs.
e,g 'me quedaba nadando por mi vida' - I was left swimming for my life

So, re-using the examples above
'él quedaba huérfano, despues de la muerte de su madre' -  he was left an orphan, after the death of his mother
'él había quedado preocupado despues del ataque' - he was left worried, after the attack
'él quedará sin ingresos despues del fracaso de su campaña' -  he will be left without an income, after the failure of his campaign.

Interestingly, although the literal meaning of 'quedar' is 'to stay', in these examples, the best translation is 'to be left', which is closer to the meaning of the verb 'dejar'

Well I hope that hasn't confused you too much.
There are many different colloquial uses of the verbs quedar and dejar but 'espero que yo no les dejé a ustedes confundidos ' - I hope I am not leaving you all confused.

¡Hasta la próxima!