Thursday, April 30, 2015
Support for corvidae
So I was reading an article, in Spanish, from a national newspaper. It was suggesting ways to keep the costs of festival going to a bare minimum. It suggested coachsurfing (sic). Fortunately for me coachsurfing was hyperlinked and when I followed the link there was a little piece about couchsurfing (sic). Taken along with the rest of the article about how nice someone had been to some tourists I decided that it was about an internet method of finding a floor to kip on. Someone who would put you up on their couch for a fraction of the price of the cheapest hostel. I have no idea whether couchsurfing is in use in the UK but there is a fair chance that it is - it's just new to me. I may know what wotless and glamping mean but it's imppossible to keep up with all the linguistic changes from a couple of thousand kilometres away.
Back in our living room I was watching some late night current affairs programme. The subtitles were on. They repeatededly mentioned crowfunding (sic) which is a fair phonetic interpretation of the word the people were using during the debate. I guessed straight away that it was not some crow support charity but a mispronunciation of crowd funding. Similar things happen all the time. I'm never quite sure whether the word is basically an Englishism given a Spanish twist - like WhatsApp becoming wassap or whether some Spanish person has decided that an English word or phrase will do the job better than a Spanish word and invented something that only exists here. Not to stray too far a really simple example of the latter would be the word parking, which is a well established and widely used Spanish word, that translates as car park or parking lot.
English words crop up in the middle of educated Spanish speech all the time. Today, in maybe an hour or so of radio listening, I noticed base camp, hotspot and peacekeeper. Often the words are pronounced to Spanish pronunciation rules so that they become unintelligible to my Brit ear. It's quite strange to maybe hear a new phrase or word on the radio or TV only to realise, when I see it written down, that it is some perfectly simple English word. Change the stress, as my students do, on ear to make it sound like a West Country exclamation and you'll appreciate how easily and quickly it can happen.
At least I've worked out a strategy for one thing that used to flummox me all the time. I get to the cinema and the title is in English. I often tried, unsuccessfully, to guess the Spanish pronunciation. Now I just say the title in English and follow it up with a Spanish phrase which says "I hate it when the titles are in English." We all have a bit of a laugh and the success rate on trouble free ticket buying has skyrocketed.