Impostora

Trying to master a foreign language

Archive for the category “Spanish”

Nancy goes to Cuba and returns with fabulous photos

Since we’re on the topic of Cuba, I couldn’t resist sharing the following links. By the way, if you’re into really great travel photography, this website is for you!

https://nancyhereandthere.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/cuba-libre-the-buena-vista-social-club-never-dies/

https://nancyhereandthere.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/cuba-libre-the-revolution-never-ends/

https://nancyhereandthere.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/cuba-libre-the-people/

https://nancyhereandthere.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/cuba-libre-architecture/

 

 

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Still on Cuba

Something I do know about Cuba: Silvio Rodriguez. Mujeres is the sort of album I have listened to over and over again. It’s from 1979, though I only discovered it 2008 or 2009.  I felt instantly  right at home, which is not surprising given that I’m also a fan of Joan Baez, the early Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Leonard Cohen. To me, folk is comfort music, like comfort food. It’s what I listen to when I’m blue.  I memorized Río is no time. En estos días had me wondering, is this about a woman, or about Cuba? It’s ambiguous. But it’s beautiful. I know that song almost by heart.

From the point of view of someone learning Spanish, Silvio’s pronunciation is easy to understand. And the lyrics are pure poetry. I have spent hours over the years, listening to the songs, repeating the lines until the Spanish words tripped off the tip of my tongue.

Acerca de Fidel

El 26 de noviembre murió Fidel Castro, y me di cuenta de lo poco que conocía de Cuba

Back to English! As someone who claims to have (admittedly passive) Spanish in her combination, I really should know more.  Where to start? With what I actually know:

Cuba, an island in the Carribean (el Caribe). Capital: La Havana (origens of the name?)

Fidel Castro: President and dictator. Died on November 26, 2016 at age 90. Opinions concerning Castro are to say the least, divergent. Most mainstream commentators took the opportunity of Fidel’s death to express strong disapproval of the man and of his regime. And yet there were also those celebrating Castro and his policies (education, healthcare, etc). Segolene Royal, the French environment minister, had very positive things to say about Cuba this week and was roundly criticized for comments by many at home.

Pretty much everyone agrees that Staline was a bad guy. Why so much disagreement over Castro? What are the implicit underlying beliefs behind these differences? Suggested reading, anyone? Preferably in Spanish….

Some historical facts and the corresponding  terminology: the name of the dictator originally overthrown by Castro and his regime (Fulgencia Batista), the Bay of Pigs (I don’t even know how to say that in Spanish — Google informs me that it’s Bahía de Cochinos), the missiles crisis (la crisis de los misiles)…and that sums up what I know about Cuba. In other words, not a lot.

There is an excellent article on this week’s New Yorker on Fidle Castro’s funeral.

http://links.newyorker.mkt4334.com/ctt?kn=53&ms=OTk5MzA0OQS2&r=MTM0NzEzMDQzNDk0S0&b=0&j=MTA2MDQzOTUxMQS2&mt=1&rt=0

(Do links work on this blog? Hmmmm. Work in progress….)

 

Cenar en vista de la Sagrada Familia

Buenos amigos, buena comida…el restaurante se llama La Paradeta

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Todos detrás de las suecas, Barcelona 4

Las ponencias (muy interesantes) nos hablan de la situación actual, de la crisis económica, que va destruyendo la economía del país y su sistema de protección social. Hablan de la falta de productividad, de crecimiento, de empleos. Pero también vuelven a hablar de la historia y del desarrollo que conoció el país en los últimos años del franquismo, cuando empezó a abrirse, y aun mas a la muerte de Franco, con la democracia. Los que se criaron en los años cuarenta y cincuenta vivieron una evolución increíble, pasando de repente de una sociedad cerrada al mundo, represiva, conservadora, al mundo en plena evolución de los años sesenta y setenta. Con el desarrollo del turismo, los extranjeros empezaron a llegar a las playas españolas, y sobre todo, las estudiantes suecas con sus bikinis. Nunca se había visto algo parecido, puesto que “las mujeres españolas se bañaban tapadísimas” (asi habla la ponente). Hablan con cierta nostalgia del optimismo de este periodo, cuando los españoles avanzaban, “todos detrás de la suecas”.

Nuevas expresiones, Barcelona 3

Estamos en Barcelona para hablar castellano y mejorar nuestro entendimiento de la cultura española. A veces, se utilizan expresiones que no conocía. Las noto, busco el sentido de cada una, y intento utilizarlas.

Por ejemplo:
“Hacer hincapié en”: dar importancia a una cosa, destacarla. “El informe sobre el cambio climático hace hincapié en la influencia de las actividades humanas sobre el calentamiento del planeta.”

“No es baladí” : es importante, no es algo trivial. “La ayuda solo es de 50 euros, pero para los estudiantes que la reciben, no es baladí”

“De mucho calado”: muy importante, con mucha influencia. “Plantearon un programa de mucho calado para desarrollar la educación en las zonas rurales.”

“Correr un tupido velo”: ocultar, cubrir, callar. “El gobierno prefiere correr un tupido velo sobre los sobornos de oficiales públicos.”

“Se han pasado tres pueblos”: ir demasiado lejos, exceder, superar: “Los periódicos se han pasado tres pueblos con la vida privada de los famosos.”

“Pasarse por alto”: ignorar, olvidar. “No se me a pasado por alto que querías sustituirle. Por eso, propongo que solicites el puesto y te apoyaré.”

“Desenfadado”: relajado, ligero. “Se viste de manera muy desenfadada, sin traje ni corbata.”

“Ni corto, ni perezoso”: sin timidez, a quien no le escapa nada. “Ni corto ni perezoso, agarró las llaves que quedaban en la mesa, subió al coche y se fue.”

AIIC Spanish Language and Culture course

Barcelona, July 22-28 2012
(report to my employer)

As part of my training objectives, which include consolidating Spanish as a passive working language, I attended the AIIC course on Spanish Language and Culture in Barcelona, from July 22-28.

The course was offered by AIIC, and was designed by and for interpreters. The objectives were to expand the participants’ understanding of Spanish and Spanish culture, through lectures and workshops, followed up by a recap of the terminology and idiomatic expressions used during the sessions. The course included formal lectures, practical exercises and cultural visits.

The themes included: the Spanish economy and the root causes of the current debt crisis, the media in Catalonia, labor market reform, the “Modernismo” movement, modern Spanish history, women writers in Spanish, and the police forces in Spain. We also visited a brewery and the ALBA Synchrotron.

Participants were encouraged to speak Spanish among themselves, even outside the classroom, and surprisingly, we rarely reverted to other languages, such as English or French, which most of the participants also spoke quite well. The participants, all interpreters, except for one Spanish teacher, came from different countries and language backgrounds. For most, Spanish was a comparatively weak language. Yet we were all eager to speak it. In Spanish, we were all on an equal, albeit weak, footing, and perhaps this is why it did not feel artificial to be speaking it among ourselves.

At the end of the course, the organizers asked us to provide feedback in the form of a questionnaire. I appreciated the broad scope of themes, which ranged from economics, to law, science and culture. The one suggestion I made, which admittedly reflects my own personal preference, was to have fewer lectures and more workshops in small groups to focus on practical exercises.

Barcelona, episode 2

20-22 de julio: días de descanso

Nada: es lo que me toca hacer. Primero, dormir. Dormir hasta la nueve y media de la mañana. Dormir la siesta. Segundo: pasar tiempo leyendo en las terrazas. Hay dos tipos de ciudades: las con terrazas y las sin terrazas. Para mi, la terraza es una de las características de la civilización. Siempre me gustaron más Paris, Buenos Aires y Barcelona, que Londres, Fráncfort y Los Angeles.

¿Qué leo en las terrazas? Pues, los periódicos: El País, pero también el periódico catalán, La Vanguardia, que sale no solo en Catalan, sino también en Castellano. Sobre todo hablan de la crisis: reformas económicas, planes de ajuste, prima de riesgo, recortes…lo difícil que es vivir aquí en estos días. Y, a pesar de todo, la gente sigue siendo amable y acogedora.

La playa no ha cambiado. No se puede ir a Barcelona sin pasar varias horas en la playa. Hace calor, pero no tanto como pensaba que hiciera. Paso tiempo paseando en los parques, y tomo por primera vez el teleférico de Montjuic.

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Training in Barcelona

The following entries were written in Barcelona, while I was doing an AIIC Spanish language and culture course. I am uploading them only now, after the fact, because in Barcelona my access to internet, at times when I could write, was patchy at best. Truth be told, I had very little time to write at all, what with the lectures, the visits and time spent with friends both old and new. I arrived in the city on July 20. The plan was to have a couple of days to kick back before any serious work got under way. The course itself took place from July 23-28.

The entries are in Spanish–my first attempt at activation. Please feel free to comment, and to correct any mistakes.

20 de julio
Rumbo a Barcelona
Llego al aeropuerto sin ningún problema. Es un trayecto que conozco muy bien. En el tren (RER B), nunca hay sitio para las maletas, que los viajeros dejan donde pueden, aunque la linea comunica la Paris con el aeropuerto Roissy Chasrles de Gaulle. Siempre hay músicos que tocan instrumentos con mas o menos éxito. Cruzamos sin parar los suburbios del norte de Paris, un trayecto que dura apenas cuarenta minutos.

El vuelo no está lleno–quizás la consecuencia de la crisis. Una hora y media mas tarde, estoy en Barcelona. El aerobús me traslada del aeropuerto hasta la Plaza de Cataluña para solamente 5,65 euros. Empieza muy bien este viaje.

Conferencias en línea

Now that I have started working from Spanish in the booth, I feel I need to practice almost daily. It’s a matter of building up my confidence. To practice, I need material. Radio and television programs are helpful, but more for general knowledge than for simultaneous interpretation practice. In the media, the pace and register are geared for entertainment rather than communication.

Instead, I look for online lectures. Whereas YouTube is a valuable source, I find I waste a lot of time wading through irrelevant material before I find something useful. I need something more targeted. For now, the ITunesU app serves my purpose and gives me access to free online lectures from universities the world over, including Spanish and Latin American Universities.

I start with the lectures offered by Universidad de Navarra. Some are quite short (10-15 minutes), other are fifty-minute classes. the quality of the recordings is uneven, but generally it’s good enough. I write down new terms. An interview on new technologies in education yields a new expression “se cuenta con”, as in “se cuenta con los educadores que nos consultan sobre algún tipo de cuestión…”. From a lecture on the physical properties of materials, I learn the term grieta, cracks (or fissuresin French). In a lecture to student teachers, a Peruvian professor discusses what it means to be a good teacher, and I get an initial impression of what educated Peruvians sound like.

I practice shadowing, i.e. repeating what the speaker says simultaneously, taping myself and doing spot checks of the recording. I practice memorisation. I let the speaker talk for two or three minutes, pause the recording and do a summary in Spanish. I tape myself and check. I practice simultaneous, into French or English. It becomes easier every day.

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