Archive for the ‘Spanish’ Category

Learning Spanish & English with I Love Lucy

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

First let’s learn some Spanish

Now for some English …

I hope you enjoyed a laugh or two. If you want to watch some more, there are plenty on Youtube.

What does Reventón Mean to You?

Monday, December 17th, 2007

2008 Lamborghini Reventón

In 2008 Lamborghini will offer a car called the Reventón to 20 people who can scrape together the million Euros to buy it.

The word reventón has various meanings for Spanish speakers, including party, explosion, burst, flat tire, and blowout. Lamborghini has also made cars called the Espada, Diablo, Murciélago, and Gallardo, but it’s not the only car manufacturer to use Spanish words to name cars.

Ford manufactured the Fiesta, Festiva, Pinto, Granada, Cortina, Sierra, and Bronco. Chevrolet sold the El Camino for a while. Dodge has the Durango, which is also the name of a Mexican state. Hyundai sells the Veracruz (another Mexican State), and the Santa Fe. In Toyota’s lineup are the Corona, Paseo, Premio, and Vista.

Do you know the meaning in Spanish of all the car models named above? Can you think of any more?

Picture credits: Tacoekkel and Zölle.

Five Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know about Spanish

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Liz tagged me with an eight random things about you meme, and since you are probably more interested in the Spanish language than in David, that’s what I’ll focus on.

So here you go. Five* random things that you might not have known about Spanish or related to Spanish in some way.


Ávila city walls, in León y CastillaCastillian, an alternative term for the Spanish language, traces its roots back to the Kingdom of Castile in the Iberian peninsula, where a dialect of Latin grew in importance and became the language of government and trade in the region.


Equatorial GuineaSince 1844, Spanish has been one of the official languages of tiny Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony in Central Africa. The majority of the population speaks Spanish.


The Lighthouse at MelillaCueta and Melilla are two cities on the northern coast of Africa that are part of Spain. Although Morocco claims these two enclaves, as well as some of Spain’s Mediterranean islands such as the uninhabited Isla Perejil, these claims are rejected by both Spain and the inhabitants of the areas. Cueta and Melilla are the only European territories in mainland Africa.


La ReconquistaLadino is a modern romance language based on old Castillian Spanish. Ladino conserves some phonetic features of 15th-century Castillian and is also highly influenced by Hebrew, Turkish, French and Greek. Ladino is spoken mainly by Sephardic Jews that were driven from Spain during the Reconquista that ended in 1492. Currently, most Sephardic, Ladino-speaking Jews live or lived in parts of Greece, Turkey, Israel, France, Brazil and other areas.


The Rock of GibraltarLlanito is a English-Spanish creole spoken by the inhabitants of the British territory of Gibraltar, near the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula. Residents often code-switch between Spanish and English, being fluent in both. There are also many words that are not part of either English or Spanish, but are used in Gibraltar.

*You might have noticed that I’m not to good at following directions, so I gave you five things instead of eight. Here’s the rules of the meme:

Share eight random facts about yourself, pick eight bloggers to keep the meme going, tell the eight bloggers that you tagged them, and of course include these rules in your post.

Since I broke the first rule, I’ll break the second and only tag 5 others. So… Osman, Zach, MissProfe, Aaron and Simon, you’re it.

What Do Learning Spanish and a Brick Wall Have in Common?

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

The Spanish language is not a brick wall, although you may feel you’ve ran you head into it more than once.

Nor is the language learner like a brick wall.

Building a brick wall uses the same process as gaining language fluency and offers us a solid metaphor for language learning.

Building Blocks

As a bricklayer begins building a wall, he joins the bricks together with mortar, placing each brick carefully, and ensures that the wall rises vertically at 90 degrees.

Each Spanish word you learn is a brick. You begin placing them at the base of your language learning, joining them together with the grammar rules you are learning. You place one word upon another, just as with bricks. One of the first words you learned was libro, then when the word librería came up, you easily placed that brick upon the first one and your Spanish language structure became stronger. When you learned of libreta, librero, and libresco those bricks were easily secured to the structure based on the foundation of the previous words.

Every time you learn a new word, it becomes attached to the language structure you are forming, strengthening the structure. As the structure grows and becomes more solid, it becomes easier and easier to add new words.

A House of Cards

We are building a brick structure, firmly mortared in place, and not a house of cards. Be deliberate with every new word. Give yourself a reason to remember it. Relate it to previous words you already know and use, causing it to adhere firmly to your structure. If you let words in one ear and out the other, it’s like throwing a brick at your wall and wishing it would magically find it’s place and stick there, even becoming a foundation for other new words.

It won’t happen.

Randomly studying the language without taking the effort to consolidate what you’re learning into a strong and well-understood foundation is like building a house of cards. You can only build so long before it crashes.

Drive-Thru Language Learning

We’re spoiled with instant this and while-you-wait that. People want a fast-food language learning experience. Instead of investing the time to properly marinate the steaks, they want to pull up, order, and drive away with a steaming bag of McSpanish.

Language learning shouldn’t be rushed.

Take your time to carefully lay just a few bricks, and wait for the mortar to harden before adding more. Take a single paragraph of real, live Spanish from a newspaper and force yourself to learn every single word in it. Use each one of those words in a new sentence. Then review those words every day for two weeks. You’ll be laying good solid bricks that will allow your language learning structure to grow larger than, and last longer than the Coliseum.

Bricks and Mortar Together

dry-stone-sm.jpgYou’ve probably seen ancient dry stone fences and walls. They can be strong and last a long time, but are usually made by interlocking the stones. You could build a dry brick wall with carefully laid bricks, but if you use mortar, it’ll be stronger.

As you continue to learn words and expand your vocabulary, you also need some grammar and some knowledge of how to put those words together and form sentences. Would you build a house using only bricks or using only mortar? What good it is to know grammar but not know any words so you can put it to use? And how can it help you to have a large vocabulary if the longest sentence you can muster consists of two words? Try to strike a balance so you can grow your language with the correct mixture of bricks and mortar.

Now go buy a periódico, pick a paragraph, and start laying those bricks.

Is agreement in number between pronouns and the nouns they represent disappearing from Spanish?

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

I just ran into the oddest thing in Spanish. Apparently you can and should say goodbye to number agreement, in some cases, in Mexican Spanish.

I was talking with a Mexican man today and I heard him say the strangest thing.

Ya váyanse, yo se los pongo.

Now that in and of itself sounds perfectly grammatical, but here’s the context. Two of his friends were walking by and said they were in a big hurry becuase they had to go over to another building to change a lightbulb before leaving for an appointment that they were almost late for. To this, my friend responded “Ya váyanse, yo se los pongo”, telling them to go ahead and leave and he would take care of changing the lightbulb.

Ya váyanse, yo se los pongo

Let’s analyze this.

Yo se los pongo
Subject Indirect object pronoun referring to the two buddies. This would normally be les, but it changes to se when preceeding another pronoun. Direct object pronoun referring to the light bulb verb

Then I responded ¿Qué dijiste?
– Yo se los pongo.
Me to a native speaker ¿Y no debiste haber dicho “yo se lo pongo”?
Blank stare

So I ask for a couple of examples and write them on a paper towel.

Remember that in these examples, the person is always talking to two or more people, and the object/action they are talking about it singular.

  • Un calentador está prendido, y ya deben apagarlo: Yo se los apago.
  • Unos amigos quieren cocinar un pollo: Tráiganme el pollo y se los cocino.
  • A varios niños: Si se mojan con el agua, se las voy a cerrar.
  • Unas personas tienen que irse y cerrar su casa: Si tienen que irse, yo se las cierro.

He also mentioned, in answer to one of my queries, that as far as he knows, that’s standard usage in Spanish. That declaration, along with the elicited examples, came from a 30+ year old Mexican male, who is a native Spanish speaker.

To me, the original utterance should have been Yo se lo pongo. The lo being singular, to represent a singular light bulb. But if this is how a large group of native speakers use the language [confirmation needed], then who am I to get all prescriptivist and tell them it should be different?

I would love it if some native or non-native speakers could confirm the extent of this usage. If you’ve heard anything like this, where did you hear it, and who was speaking?