How to Speak… (not serious)

For years I have been studying Spanish, French and Catalan, and also observing other languages. Over that time I have made detailed notes and can now share my insights to make learning a language and its correct pronounciation easier.

French – Purse your lips together and make various buzzing sounds.

Spanish – bash two stones together energetically

Catalan – try to speak with a bee, chicken and grasshopper in you mouth; bash two stones together at the same time

Italian – bash two stones together energetically, but with rhythm

Galician Spanish – bash two stones together like Italian, but with softer and slower rhythm

South American/Andalusian/Canaries Spanish – bash two stones together covered with lots of talcum powder; with each “crack” the sound disintegrates into a soft breathing

Portugal Portuguese – make buzzing noises with a wide open mouth, and with a rhythm like Galician Spanish

Brasilian Portuguese – make buzzing sounds with a wide open mouth, as if you have a party popping in your mouth

German – make noises but with no facial movement and a minimum of lip movement

South-East England English (mine) – lose control of lips and tongue, and just “flap” them

Posh English – Purse lips together, but with less buzzing sounds than French

American English – open mouth wide with each syllable, like you’re chewing gum

I hope that helps. ūüėČ

Translating from Catalan

(wow, I’ve just noticed a boost of traffic to this blog. Thanks for the views.)

So, what have I been doing lately? A lot, aikido, walks, gardening, hunting exotic crayfish,¬† but I’ll leave them for other blogs.

One thing I’ve been busy on is translating the CEN Association website from Catalan to English. CEN is an association that “works for the improvement and conservation of habitats and biodiversity”.¬† I’ve been involved in several volunteer actions (including “hunting cranks“) as well as being a board member. We¬† (Biodiversidad2030) signed an agreement with CEN under the Cust√≥dia del Territorio (Land Stewardship Scheme in English) to protect the land and its ecosystems and develop projects in a sustainable way for us and the environment.

So, I’m translating the website so it’s accessible to the anglosphere. Moreover, it helps in an application to EOCA to do work for the Glorieta river, such as litter picking, control and eradication of invasive exotic species, regulation of canyoning, restriction of access to vulnerable areas and raising awareness of environmental issues, both local and in general. It’s tough work (I am not a professional translator) but I enjoy it.

I can read Spanish fairly well, and because of that other Romance languages are more accesible, like Portuguese, Italian and Catalan. I can read them a bit and make “educated guesses” at what they’re saying. But to hear them… no entenc res! (I don’t understand a thing!).¬† I understand enough Catalan to translate it, and there’s plenty of resources online to help me,¬† but the mental gymnastics I have to do translate from one grammar to the other is mindbending. A long list of de… de… de… de… might sound okay in Catalan, French or Spanish, but in English of… of… of… of… doesn’t flow. Then there are the technical terms that I have to accurately translate to make them meaningful. But I think this sort of saturation is good for learning a new language.

Well, I think I should get on with the translation now. Time’s a wasting!

Pond Dipping in Francol√≠

Saturday morning me and Mika got our welly boots on and went to a small workshop to look at the biodiversity in Francolí river, just outside of Tarragona. Apparently it is the most polluted river in Europe, so in terms of biodiversity is one of the lowest as low biodiversity corresponds with high pollution in lakes, rivers and ponds. Only the most robust species are able to survive.

But there were still some things to be found, like the American crayfish (not the native Iberian crayfish), dragonfly larvae, damselfly larvae, mayfly nymphs, a frog and a tadpole, and an air breathing aquatic beetle that doesn’t look aquatic, plus various other little creatures. I don’t know how many times I’ve done surveys in water habitats like this, taking a net and tray and seeing what there is, but it’s always very interesting. The main difference was that it wasn’t in English but Catalan, which surprisingly I could catch some of.

The American crayfish is causing problems with the native Iberian Crayfish, since it is more competitive and more immune to a fungal disease that is killing of the Iberian crayfish. We’re lucky enough to have a small colony of Iberian crayfish in a stream on the land, and I hope it remains like that for a long time to come.

Reading Romance…

Languages. What else did you think I meant ūüėČ

I can now read a lot of Spanish, but with this I’ve found I can read Catalan, Portuguese, Italian and French a bit better. It helps that English has a good dose of Latin in it.

You’d think, English being a West German language I could have a head start with German or Dutch, but I can probably read Portuguese more than those.

Still, realising that just by understanding one language I can understand some others my world opens up before me! So, once I have Spanish (language of the country), Catalan (language of the region) and French (language spoken at home) under my belt what next? Should I learn another Iberian Romance language: Leonese? Asturian? Aranese? Aragonese? Galician? Portuguese (which a cousin speaks)? Extremaduran? Fala? Or perhaps leave the Romance alone and learn some Basque? Or go beyond the peninsula and learn Italian, Romansch, German or Greek? There was a moment, before Spain, I was trying to learn Scottish Gaelic, so maybe… Or maybe learn Arabic or Chinese? outside of Europe even!

There’s no stopping me now with a whole world of languages to speak with!!!

But first I think I should at least become fluent in Spanish before branching out, shouldn’t I? That might be sensible…