Saturday, November 27, 2010

un ángulo oscuro

Today I did a quick Spanish lesson on Live Mocha. (FYI - I love this website and recommend it to EVERYONE). Anyway, the lesson was rather simple but the thing about Live Mocha that I like is that they introduce vocabulary Rosetta Stone does not introduce. Rosetta Stone is more about guided immersion, repetition and absorption.Rosetta Stone is a great program, but like all language programs it must be used with other language learning programs.

So today on Live Mocha I had to write some simple Spanish sentences. Estoy frente al banco cruzando le calle. Estoy en la esquina opuesta al banco. I was not familiar with the word la esquina, I figured by the context it meant block or corner.

I moved onto the next lesson and had to write some more simple sentences. Again, most of the stuff I already know but occasionally they use new words. One of the sentences I had to write was, Siga derecho dos cuadras y doble a la derecha. What got my attention was the word una cuadra. I wondered, how is that different from la esquina.

In English, we say Walk one block. Walk to the corner. We pretty much use the words block and corner. In Spanish however, it is just a little different.

Consider this sentence - The poets were meeting in a corner of the restaurant. What about this sentence - in a dark corner of the room.

Which word do we use? Do we use la esquina? Nope. Do we use la cuadra? Of course not - it would not make one bit of sense in Spanish. What we say is this.... Los poetas estaban reuidos en un rincón del restaurante. Del salón en un ángulo oscuro.

*  El osito de peluche estaba sentado silenciosamente en una esquina.
*  El osito de peluche estaba sentado silenciosamente en una esquina obscura del closet.

*  El hombre pensó detenidamente, solo en la esquina del café. 
*  La mujer siempre se sienta en una esquina solitaria. 
*  El hombre observó escalofriantemente, mirando en blanco desde un rincón del café.

 If one is speaking about outside a corner, where one street meets another street or where one sidewalk meets another sidewalk, the Spanish word is esquina.

Me van a esperar en la esquina de Palma y Verde.

When you are not speaking about a corner of a room, a box, restaurant or sidewalk, but rather the intersection itself we use the word bocacalle. Note that the word bocacalle tends to be used in Spain more than Latin America.

* Cuando llegue a la bocacalle, doble a la izquierda.
* Cuando llegue al topar con la calle, doble a la izquierda.

In Spain, for city block they say manzana .. yes, the word for apple. In Latin American they say una cuadera. But... Hispanic Americans say the word bloque. Then again, Mexican Americans have been accused many times of butchering the Spanish language. I am not an expert on that. I suppose some people on my friends list are in a much better position to judge that one than me.

The English way is much easier and much simpler. It is a block, a corner, or an intersection. But, you can say block or corner interchangeably.

Thanks for reading this blog! If you would like me to write about anything in particular, feel free to send me an e-mail and let me know.

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