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. 😉


(Nature Connected Activities in Tarragona)

Last month we walked along Playa Larga near Tarragona and had several nationalities: a Dutch couple, a Portuguese, a Greek, several Spaniards, a Venezuelan, a Scotsman, an Englishman (yours truly) and a Swiss woman (Mika) – it sounds like the beginning of a complex bar joke (but it wasn’t, lol).  It was a beautiful place with forest right next to the sea. This month we go to the Febró ravine; I’ll tell you about that.

Recently we had our first NCAT English meet up. We were asked recently if we had outings specifically for speaking English, so we obliged and created a new branch of NCAT. This group is more for people that want to practice their English in an informal setting. We do have a few exercises to learn some basics, but just something simple whilst we walk. There’s plenty of extranjeros (foreigners, like me) that want to learn Spanish, so why not an NCAT Spanish?

We also have NCAT Eco-Art; the first workshop will be the end of this month. Here we use natural materials to create works of art (mandalas, “touchscapes”, etc.), but working with ecopsychological principles by becoming aware of the natural world around us with senses little used!

Here are the links for each group:

NCAT – for excursions and activities out in nature.

NCAT English – excursions in nature, learning and practicing English.

NCAT Ecoart – artistic activities in nature, combining natural materials with ecopsychological principles.

Hablo con fluidez media

(this is an lingual experiment. If you don’t understand Spanish or French just skip the bold bits)

Estos últimos meses han sido algo diferente por mi español.

These past few months have been something different for my Spanish.

No sé que es pero es como si mi cerebro tenía un salto cuantico español.

I don’t know what it is but it’s as if my brain had a Spanish quantum leap.

Vale, todavía cometo errores (tal vez lo de “tenía” arriba debería ser subjunctivo, no sé).

Okay, I still make mistakes (I think “tenía” above should be subjunctive, but I don’t know).

Pero puedo hablar con alguien que hablar el español y estar* entendido.

But I can speak with anyone that speaks Spanish and be understood.

Je peu intent le meme avec le Francais, mais je ne le parle pas (mais j’entende un petit peu). [if I’ve pulled that off and written a half-acceptable French sentence then I’ll be amazed (sorry, can’t write all that in French)]

I could try the same in French, but I don’t speak it much (but I understand a bit).

Creo que dentro un año y medio estará hablando y escribiendo el francés como hablo el español ahora.

I think that within a year and a half I’ll be speaking and writing French like I speak Spanish now.

Y quién sabe (¿sepa? lo del subjunctivo me confunde) cuanto español yo hablará dentro de un año y medio. :O

And who knows (¿sepa? the subjunctive thing confuses me) how much Spanish I’ll speak in a year and a half. :O

Este ha sido un experimento muy interesante para mi.

This has been a very interesting experiment for me.

En diez años hablará cuatro idiomas: el español, el francés, el catalán y el inglés. Ya verás.

In ten years I’ll speak four languages: Spanish, French, Catalan and English. Just you wait and see.

*Mika me ha dicho que esto tiene que ser “ser” y no “estar” (pero seguro que hay errores por todas partes en mi español). Lo dejo como un ejemplo de errores que puedo cometer.

*Mika has told me that this should be “ser” and not “estar” (but I’m sure my Spanish is riddled with mistakes). I’ll leave it as an example of errors I can make still.

El Sobrino Speaks

Otra vez… (this is a rewrite of a blog I lost earlier)

Yesterday my sobrino (nephew) came to stay and I’ve been stretching my semi-bilingual brain much more. He’s almost three years old and speaks some Spanish and Catalan, understands French and has picked up some English. However, not enough English for me to speak with him, so when he asks me “¿Co qué?” (por qué=why) I have to come up with a quick yet coherent answer in Spanish, there and then. I think I used more Spanish words today than English!!!

I think sometimes I’m making up sentences as I going along, so don’t know how I sounds to a Spanish laymen’s ears, but I survive with this mantram: No se dice, pero se entiende (it’s not said, but it’s understood), so I may sound silly but I can make myself understood until I iron out the wrinkles in my Spanish.

His brain is absorbing language at a far faster rate than mine and in a few years he’ll probably be more fluent than me in more than two languages (I envy him and Keanu Reaves, the latter of which can just plug himself into a computer for five minutes and then say “Wow, I know Kung Fu”). Another mantram that I tell “Con él tengo que aprender castellano” (With him I have to learn Spanish), and I practice it too.

And yet I’m still amazed at how my brain unconsciously picks up on new languages; there are even some French phrases I can recognise!

Reading Romance…

Languages. What else did you think I meant 😉

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…

Diccionario Español

My Spanish has improved to the extent that I don’t need to look in my Spanish-English dictionary to see a word, I can now go to the Real Academia Española and read the meaing of a word in Spanish.

Un día podría ser que abro un blog que voy a llamar “Un druida en entrenamiento”… but not until I’ve improved my written Spanish and can speak fluently.

In the meantime I can watch my sobrino overtake me in Spanish and then teach me. It’s amazing how the young mind is a sponge for language, not like the older mind, which is a sponge, but it can already be “soggy” from previous learnings lol. I’ll just have to work hard at it is all (erm…tengo que trabajar ¿duro se puede decir?… bueno, mucho para aprender… yes, still a bit to learn)

Sorry for my English, I’m English

I got a few books on grammar recently and have realised just how much I knew and how much I don’t know. It’s very good. It’s appalling.

I thought I had a good grasp on apostrophes, but I seem to have got confused on a point. When a name or noun ends in an s then there’s no need to put an s after the possesive apostrophe. I’d developed a little quirk from this misinterpretation, so instead of saying James’s I would say James’. Although maybe I’m right, and what I hear and read is wrong. Oh dear, I’m confused now.

And now I’ve discovered a little bit more of what to do with colons, semi-colons, dashes and hyphens I don’t know what to do with them I’ve been relying on commas, full stops and brackets in their place. I didn’t even know the difference between dashes and hyphens so all hyphens have been called dashes. And now I’m not sure if I’m constructing my sentences okay. What did they learn me in school? I ask you!

I often encounter people (non-English) that apologise for not speaking English well, which makes me laugh because, at times, I’d have to apologise about the same thing! Or even describe to their unbelieving ears that I know plenty of English people that speak and write worse. If you’ve learnt English as a second language you’re probably more familiar with Standard English than I am.

Never mind about Spanish or French, I should be ironing the kinks out of my English. I think I need to go back to school, so I can learn me to talk proper.

Spanis-Laik Inglis

Sometimes I have a little interest in finding nyu weys tu rait Inglis. Once I experimented with writing ALL IN CAPTALS, WITH NO PUNCTUATION AND N VWLS S YD ND P WRTNG LK THS. For Jake Fish’s story I created the Nyoo Alfêbet, based on a more phonetic alphabet of (my) English: if yoo wont too sii dhat môr in depth dhen pliiz sii hiêr: Nyoo Alfêbet.

Well, last night I was experimenting with Spanish which, compared to English, has a more limited yet more phonetically faithful alphabet. Using it’s rules in spelling and pronunciation, including accents, you can come to some interesting results:

Iu jaf tu now dat sam leters, laik “u” as in “bug” ar not present in Spanis, and for dat mater nicer is “sh”, and de Inglis “j” iusuali cams aut laik “y” from de Spanis mauz. Ai cud gow on bat ai down’t wont tu bor iu.

Don’t mind me, I’m just playing. 😉