June 23, 2012 | Review Period
Coffee Reduction, Grammar Proliferation
I am down to one shot of espresso a day.
Some months ago I said on this blog that I was going to quit coffee altogether.
I did not quit coffee altogether. In fact, I did rather the opposite. The employees at the coffee shop I frequent began looking at me as though I was a drug addict.
Sometimes I Need a Cart to Transport All My Grammar Books Between Home and Office
Over the past couple of weeks, I decided I needed to try harder than not trying at all, and I got myself down to a single espresso shot a day. I immediately began sleeping better.
Even more exciting, and totally unexpected: my vision improved almost overnight. My eyesight has not been quite as good as usual for the past half year or so, and now it is sharper. Maybe it’s correlated, maybe it’s not, but I think it is.
To summarize: less caffeine, more sleep, better eyesight, better grammar studying experience. I am pleased.
So, back to grammar! Dorothy Richmond can be quite witty. She is the author of the Spanish Verb Tenses book I am using. Yesterday I read, “Of all the tenses, the conditional perfect holds the dubious honor of being the only one to express no action whatsoever. It is the favorite tense of excuse makers.”
As in, “I would have spoken better Spanish if I hadn’t been learning Italian at the same time.”
I find I am getting words for “map,” “card,” and “letter” mixed up in the various languages I am reviewing. “Letter” is carta in Spanish. Karte in German can be “card,” or “ticket,” or “map,” though when the tourists come into the NYC Official Information Center where I volunteer, I believe they always request a Stadtplan. I’m not sure when you might use Karte for map.
Tickets and maps come up a lot where tourists are concerned, so I wish I would stop messing this up.
Okay, I can see why I have problems. In the middle of writing this, I just ran the French word carte through Google Translate and got a boatload of translations, including “map,” “card,” “chart,” “menu,” and “ticket.”
Carta in Spanish produced, among other things, “menu,” “card,” “map,” and “letter.”
Wow, this is not helping.
In Italian I get less confused. I use lettera for “letter,” pianta for “map” (or maybe mappa), and I think menu for “menu.” I don’t know if I am less confused in Italian because there is less overlap in Italian word choice, or because my vocabulary in Italian is significantly more impoverished than it is in the others.
Sometimes knowing less feels like knowing more.
The other day I was searching for interesting foreign-language books to read, and the very first thing that came up in my search results was Cincuenta sombras de Grey. That’s Fifty Shades of Grey, in Spanish.