« Attic Salt | Main | After Life - A Fantasy - Part One »

Spanish Secrets: Curse Of The Grammarians

Craig Briggs thinks of the slowest of slow-moving snails as he struggles to master the Spanish language.

A few months ago we received a letter from the mayor of our local parish council, Sober. It was an invitation to a meeting that might prove of, “benefit or interest” to people from Great Britain.

Under normal circumstances I might well have filed it under W - waste paper basket. But on this occasion someone had gone to great lengths to try and write the letter in English. Not a perfect translation, but good enough for us to understand its request.

Considering the effort taken to produce the letter, I thought it would be extremely rude not to attend. Issues ranging from membership of the parish orchestra, to free internet access in the library, were briefly discussed. One point of interest was the mayor’s proposal to initiate Spanish lessons.

There was a positive consensus between the nine resident Brits present that this was a good idea. After half an hour the meeting was adjourned and we heard nothing more, until last week.

Completely out of the blue we received further correspondence from the mayor. On this occasion, and true to form, the letter was written in Gallego. It seemed rather ironic that I, an Englishman, was receiving a letter written in Gallego informing me about the council’s plans to teach me Spanish.

Let me explain.

Galicia, the province of Spain we live in, is a semi-autonomous region. It has its own language, Gallego, and children up to the age of 13 are educated entirely in it. After that age they are all taught in Castilian (Spanish). In both its vocabulary and pronunciation, Gallego owes as much to Portuguese as it does to Spanish.

The council’s invitation to attend lessons, was gratefully accepted.

My learning is progressing at a rate I can only describe as that of a very sick snail - a snail so slow I’m undecided whether or not it’s passed away. The phrase, “The parrot is dead” springs to mind.

However, I am pleased that a question I asked during our first lesson was used in a newspaper article. Accompanying the article was a group photo of the whole class including the teacher. Missing from the line-up was yours truly. I was left contemplating that perhaps I have the perfect face for radio.

My problems with English grammar are a considerable hindrance to my understanding of Spanish grammar. As for the word juxtaposition, it was obviously invented by a grammarian who thought people were getting too close to understanding the black art of grammar.

Not only are the grammarians working against me, but a change in the weather has left me unable to excuse myself from home study. Playing about in the allotment is out of the question. Not one to suffer in silence, my constant questioning of Melanie has left us both praying for sunshine.

My desire to persist and conquer this foreign tongue is undeniable. Let’s hope I have the mental stamina to go the distance. Watch this space.

email address

Copyright © 2006 Craig Briggs


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.