Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


13 Comments

Housekeeping

Updates on stuff I’ve written and your comments.

Simply the best (game).

→ I stopped playing Candy Crush. I got to level 169 without paying for any upgrades and, after a couple days stuck there, I decided I was out. Additional proof that I’ll never be a bona fide nerd: I don’t really get into video games. (N64 GoldenEye and Tetris excepted.)

→ Benedict Cumberbatch offers the famous person’s version of “Leave Me Alone” face:

“If you pick a point far behind [people on the sidewalk] they perceive you as not seeing them, and you’re the obstacle they have to get around. The greatest disguise is learning how to be invisible in plain sight.”

→ This year when I finally found a copy of the Oscars online to watch, I already knew all the good and bad moments, significantly lessening my enjoyment. Maybe next year I’ll try to play The Knowledge and just wait till I can see the whole thing for myself.

An episode of RADIOLAB made me “Rabies!” at my iPod since they mentioned that “right” also means “correct.” Another way that “left” is demonized.

→ Google Translate continues to be the worst and to do more harm than good. To wit, when it’s used to translate menus.

→ Complaining about lack of editing on the Internet is a bit like being angry at the sun for emiting light. That I’m not the only person to poke fun at those who don’t right the write word makes me feel better.

I will always love you.

→ An interesting take on why some of my favorite retailers went out of business from THE NEW YORKER. It wasn’t my fault and is instead due to Americans wanting to buy high-end goods in a luxury environment and low-end goods in a warehouse. Huh.

→ On a related note, I realized why I liked those stores so much: there were no salespeople. I hate being asked if I need help, if I’m finding what I want, if I’d like to see another size. This is another way in which I’m well suited to life in France.

→ More ways to clear out your life. I especially agree about the microwave. “Science ovens” aren’t worth the counter space they take up and make your food taste worse.

→ Elizabeth recommended I read the comments on that NYT article about tortilla and I did. Many were very angry, which amused me, but I’d like to think that part of the ire came from a translation misunderstanding. Spanish doesn’t allow for the distinction between must / should / have to. In English we know that these are degrees on the same spectrum, but Spaniards have a hard time with them, thus, when they give instructions in English, they often sound like commands. More on modal verb forms here.

Topics -> Hot Topic -> Hot Probs -> poor little Heather (McNamara).

→ But the person who was railing against “TOPICS!!” regarding Spanish people and their cooking was digging their own grave. They meant “clichés” which are “tópicos” in Spanish. Sigh.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Word Mystery: eat / comer / manger

Neon_sign_EatEvery Wednesday, I explore the linguistic origins of one word in different languages I speak.

I’ve done almost 70 Word Mysteries and have a list of nearly 130 waiting to be researched on my computer but this week’s entry doesn’t appear on it because I am an idiot. No other possibilities exist.

EN → eat — put food into the mouth and chew and swallow it. ORIGIN Dutch eten [food, eat] and German essen [eat].

ES → comerMasticar y desmenuzar el alimento en la boca y pasarlo al estómago. [Act of chewing and making smaller of food in the mouth and passing it to the stomach.] ORIGIN Latin comedĕre [consume, devour].

FR → mangerAbsorber un aliment, par opposition à boire. [Absorb food through means other than drinking.] ORIGIN Latin manducare [chew, masticate].

French note #1: the second definition for manger is the one you’d expect (it includes chewing) but the example provided is “to chew one’s nails,” which is not what I think about when eating. (Nail chewing is totally disgusting, on par with people who clip their nails in public. What makes anyone think that’s okay? That is *not* okay.)

French note #2: I took enough science classes to understand that food is actually absorbed by the body during the process of digestion, but I still feel like the French is suggesting that osmosis is a viable way to take in calories.

Today’s Winner: I’m going to go with English as that definition is the only one that didn’t make my stomach turn.

Just for funzies

"Dear God, what is that thing?" = nauseous

“Dear God, what is that thing?” = nauseous

Nauseous — causing nausea.

Nauseated — affected with nausea.

Both come from the Latin nauseosus [seasickness] but the difference in usage is one that’s important (to pedants like me, at least).

I am nauseous = I make people vomit.
I am nauseated = I am going to vomit.


5 Comments

Housekeeping

Updates on stuff I’ve written and your comments.

In the day after being Freshly Pressed, there were over 1200 clicks on my blog. Which is nuts. If you commented or “liked,” I’ll be checking your blog out eventually but there’s a lot to get through. #FreshlyPressedPeoplesProblems

Responding to all the comments on the post about spying, I started to wonder if American men have defensive tactics that they employ whenever they leave the house. Anyone care to comment?

More proof that the pop vs. soda debate is the defining schism in the US: Tweets reflect the rift.

After reading about my drinking problem, my mother suggested I may have potomanía, an ailment described as “excessive and uncontrollable drinking of water.” I’m adding it to the list of things that are wrong with me which I will blame on her.

I learned why Japanese master chef Jiro pointed to his nose. Turns out the Japanese for “I” and “nose” are similar so people touch their noses when they talk about themselves.

I was right about children not needing to identify with fictional characters and Harvard academic Maria Tatar proves it. According to something AS Byatt cites (which I can’t find), Tatar

has observed wisely that children do not usually ‘identify [with fictional children]’ – they stand a little apart inside the fictional world and intensely observe the people and the action.

I only listen to one podcast from Spain, “180 Grados” (which plays really good music). They didn’t broadcast between Dec 21 and Jan 7. This reminded me that many of the businesses in the country, including state-run radio, close down between those dates for the winter holidays. In the US, having two weeks off for Christmas is called “being in college.” It’s no wonder Spain’s in the shitter.

According to the most recent “Freakonomics” podcast, I may owe Winston Churchill money which is concerning.

Speaking of prolific famous English guys, if you want to listen to Alastair Cooke’s “Letters From America” (which I recommend) but don’t want to deal with iTunes, you can download them directly from BBC4.

Don't be such a pillow case

Don’t be such a pillowcase.

A while back I asked bilingual readers if they could do things simultaneously in two languages. I think I asked the wrong question since everyone said they can, proving nothing. I guess the question should be posed to monolingual people, so I’m going to try again.

What I want to know is if you can do two things at once in whatever language you speak (presumably English if you’re reading this). For example, can you read while listening to the radio? Please answer ONLY if you speak ONE language:


7 Comments

Lunchtime (multilingualism) poll

“You’re beautiful.”

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you are a person who is multilingual and/or interested in language learning/acquisition. If this is you, please read on because I need your help understanding something. If you got here because you also think that the tattoo in The Grey wasn’t clearly explained, move along.

Assuming you identify yourself as multilingual (I don’t care how fluent you are), my question is this: Can you do things in two different languages at the same time?

To be painfully, explicitly clear, I would like to know if you can, for example, read a newspaper in one language while listening to the radio in another language. I am NOT asking if after engaging in these activities you are able to accurately report back what you have heard or read. And to restate, that was an example. Maybe you listen to the radio in one language while driving and talking in a different language. I don’t know. You tell me.

So, here’s a little poll thing to measure your responses. Once I’ve collected some completely non-scientific data from you guys and done some more research, I’ll post about my conclusions down the line. And please tell me about your experiences in contemporaneous consumption of communication. I’m very interested.

Please vote ONLY if you ARE multilingual (two or more languages).