April 29, 2010 | Spanish
Grammar vs. Sugar, and Grammar Wins
I must like grammar even more than I thought.
Yesterday I woke up too early, 5:30 a.m., and found myself lying in bed trying to remember how to say “she” in Italian. Not a good sign for my Italian. I did finally come up with the word (lei), but it required some cycling through a bunch of other pronouns first.
My Italian is fleeing.
After this pronoun fiasco, I gave up on trying to sleep and worked for a couple of hours before finally going back to bed around 8:00.
Once awake again, I spent a healthy chunk of my day on Spanish grammar. It was also a coffee-shop kind of day. I studied at Café Margot, happily enjoying my seat next to a man and woman who were speaking Spanish to each other. Then in the late afternoon I met a friend of mine—a member of my running team and a fellow grammar geek—downtown at an espresso bar. We discussed racing and subjunctive. Good stuff!
In my grammar book, I’m noticing that all the examples of imperative (i.e., commands) are punctuated with exclamation points, just as in Italian. I don’t remember that from my Spanish-learning past. Exclamation points are not mandatory for Spanish imperative, are they? Must research this.
The vosotros verb conjugations continue to amaze me. It’s like learning a new language. I am guessing texts I read in my high school literature classes did not include a lot of Spanish Spanish, because the forms seem either barely familiar or not familiar at all. For example: ¡Volad! for “Fly!” Or ¡No trabajéis! for “Don’t work!”
I need to figure out the difference, if there is one, between juego and partido, which mean “game.” Same for “pen.” I always learned pluma, but in Pimsleur and I think elsewhere this month I have repeatedly come across bolígrafo. I believe the differences are based on pen type and the speaker’s origin. I had no idea.
I am also perplexed about the word for “bedroom.” I really don’t remember dormitorio or habitación. I have some vague memory of cuarto de dormir—or am I just making that up?
One thing that I constantly get wrong, and knew I was constantly getting wrong, even before April 1 arrived and this Spanish review began: poco versus poquito. The number of errors I make on this one point alone is an argument for getting out of verb-only grammar books as soon as possible and into something more comprehensive.
In the meantime, however: I am amused by a translation exercise in my current grammar book involving a first-person narrator’s obsession with her friend Catarina’s famous apple tart. Although I remain largely unmoved by apple tarts, I do have ice cream issues. Last night from around 8:00 to 10:15, I really, really wanted peanut butter brittle ice cream.
Now, once I start thinking ice cream, it’s usually all over for me. I might as well just give in, walk over to Fairway, buy some Häagen-Dazs, and eat it. I can defer the inevitable for a few hours, but it is in the end generally not evitable.
Last night, though, I stayed home and kept working. Love of grammar actually trumped love of ice cream.
I am in shock.