Coffee Break Spanish Magazine – Episode 109

Join the Coffee Break Spanish Magazine team and improve your Spanish listening skills. In this edition:

  • Alba asks her interviewees, ¿cuál es el mejor regalo que has recibido jamás?;
  • Laura teaches us the phrases de tal palo, tal astillo, meaning “like father, like son” or “a chip off the old block”;
  • and JP and Nahyeli answer listener Heather’s question about the difference between ahora and ahorita, which is particularly important in Mexican Spanish when there is a significant difference between these two words!

On Location Swedish – 21 Dec 2012

121221-ailieHej! So, a few weeks back I promised more on Lussebullar (Lucia saffron buns, baked in the shape of an 8… or a curled up cat, depending on your baking skills), so here it is, my Lucia article (because I am sure you are all getting slightly tired of hearing about the snow!). Lucia is a really, really Swedish celebration which happens on the 13th December every year, and is just about impossible to avoid – not that you would want to! Shops begin selling the aforementioned lussebullar from the beginning of December, going into overdrive on the actual day itself; there are regional and nationwide contests to be crowned Lucia of the year in which the public vote; so, what’s it all about?

Lucia celebrations are said to have their origins in Nordic folklore: the 13th December was believed to be a dangerous night (possibly from being the longest night under the Julian calendar), with rumours that animals would become bewitched and start to talk. Later it was also meant to symbolise the time when you could start getting ready for Christmas – although nowadays people by no means wait until the 13th to begin their preparations! It is tradition for Lucia to wear candles on her head, arising from the story of Saint Lucia bringing light in the darkness of prisons as she brought food to the prison inmates, with her handmaidens in a Luciatåg or Lucia procession (which happen everywhere, from nursery schools to concert halls, all around the country) carrying candles in their hands again to ward away the dark. Lucia herself will also have a red ribbon tied around her waist, to represent the blood she spilt when killed for her good works (ca. 300 AD). The boys get to be stjärngossar, or “star boys”, and instead of candles carry a star-decorated stick in their hands, wear conical hats also decorated with stars, and like Lucia and her maidens, wear long white gowns.

After that the characters become a little more colourful. A Luciatåg will most often also include pepparkaksgubbar (gingerbread people), tomtar (small Santa-like elves), and sometimes a Staffan ställedrang, a version of St Stephen as a horse groom (although this origin of the Staffan ställedrang isn’t widely remembered). During a Lucia celebration, the Luciatåg will sing songs, including the compulsory Luciassången (Lucia song, most commonly “Natten går tunga fjat” or “Heavy footsteps in the night”), Tomtarnas julnatt (“The elves’ Christmas night”, sung often solely by the elves), and my personal favourite Tre pepparkaksgubbar (“Three gingerbread men”). After the Luciatåg has finished their procession, the traditional goodies of pepparkakor (gingerbread), lussebullar and glögg (mulled wine) are often shared, before heading home, feeling full of wintery goodness at having successfully warded off all the evil the dark can bring…or maybe that warm, glowing feeling is just the glögg taking effect…

Whatever it may be, Lucia celebrations are a joy to see, with the glowing of many candles and the mixture of the pure white and the more colourful costumes. And as this will be my last post before Christmas, I would like to wish you all en riktigt God Jul och Gott Nytt År!

On Location Italian – 20 Dec 2012

121220-nicoleBuongiorno a tutti and welcome to On Location Italian. Lessons are all finished up, exams are just around the corner and I am home for Christmas next week. It’s official, my first semester in Verona is almost over. And what a semester it has been! I am so grateful for all the amazing places I have seen, the great food I have tasted and most importantly, the fantastic people I have met. I cannot believe how close you can become to people in such a short space of time but I guess that is the nature of doing Erasmus – without your own family and friends to lean on, you form your own sort of Erasmus family to get you through.

This week I have been indulging myself in some retail therapy. I had the idea that it would be nice to return to Scotland with some typically Italian Christmas presents. Whilst scouring the shops, the majority of my time was spent admiring the amazing food the country has to offer. In addition to the castagne (roasted chestnuts – which you can see in this week’s photo), I couldn’t help but notice the amount of pandoro and pannetone that took up the shelves in the delicatessens, cafes and supermarkets. Both pandoro and pannetone are types of traditional Italian sweet bread typically enjoyed around the festive period. Pandoro ( or Pan d’oro), literally translated as “golden bread”, originates from Verona and is sprinkled with icing sugar. Panettone comes from Milan and contains candied fruit. The word “panettone” derives from the Italian word “panetto“, a small loaf cake. By adding the Italian suffix “-one”, changes the meaning to “large cake”. I just have to find a way to fit these Italian Christmas dinner staples into my suitcase now!

In between spending an excessive amount of time in Verona’s alimentari (“general food shops”/ “delicatessens”), I have also learned a couple of new expressions. My Italian friend used the phrase ce l’ho sulla punta della lingua, translated in English as “it is on the tip of my tongue”. I also heard for the first time capire fischi per fiaschi which means “to get the wrong end of the stick”.

I hope you have all enjoyed my blog post and I will be back soon but until then, Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo (“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”). A presto!

On Location German – 19 Dec 2012

121219-hollyHi everyone! We are now on the run up to Christmas and I am back with an article on different Christmas traditions in Germany and things that I have experienced so far during this festive period.

Firstly, as Daniel has mentioned, “Weihnachtsmärkte” (Christmas markets) run from the end of November until the end of December and are a big thing here in Germany. They consist of lots of wooden huts and stalls that sell different handmade crafts, clothing and food. There are also lots of handmade “Spielzeuge” (toys) that you can buy. I have certainly been able to get the majority of my Christmas shopping done at these markets! A word that I have heard recently is “Krimskrams” (bits and pieces) and this word definitely sums up the type of things that you can buy at the Christmas markets. Having been to lots of different markets including Münster, Hamburg and Osnabrück, I have also tried lots of new things to eat. When you go to the Christmas markets you can smell food all around you. Some of my favourite Weihnachtsmarkt treats have to be “Glühwein” (mulled wine), “Bratwurst” (fried German sausage) and “Reibekuchen” which are German pancakes made from potato, flour and egg and are often flavoured with onion or garlic. You can also get these with “Apfelmus” which is apple purée. In addition to interesting foods to try, there is also sometimes an “Eislaufbahn” (ice rink) where you can go “Schlittschuhlaufen” (ice-skating).

Speaking of food, my “Gastfamilie” (host family) introduced me to “Lebkuchen” (gingerbread) and “Stollen” which is a fruit cake containing fruit and marzipan and is covered with icing sugar. My German family has also been teaching me about some German Christmas traditions. Firstly, on the night of 5th December children leave their boots or shoes out and believe that St. Nicholas comes and puts chocolate, fruit and nuts in their boots if they have been good and leaves potatoes, coal, or twigs if they have been bad!

I have also learnt about the differences between Christmas here and in Scotland. In Scotland we have Christmas Eve on 24th, Christmas Day on 25th and then Boxing Day on 26th. In Germany, however, they have “Heiligabend” (Holy Eve) on 24th and this is their main Christmas day where close family put the tree up and when the children receive their presents. “Die Bescherung” is the German word for gift giving and this is done at the end of the day. On 25th they then have their erster Weihnachtstag and then their zweiter Weihnachtstag on 26th and these days are meant for families to visit each other.

So I have learnt a lot about German culture this month and I love all the snow and crisp winter mornings. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to getting home to see my friends and family over Christmas. Bis bald!

On Location Spanish – 18 Dec 2012

121218-graceHola a todos and welcome to another of Grace’s On Location Spanish updates. With November’s rain a thing of the past, as promised, my trusty umbrella has simply been gathering dust. Now, in the middle of December,  the sun still shines brightly through clear blue skies but I can confirm that, with low temperatures of 17°C, I have joined the cult of the Continental Blood, sporting a coat and a scarf on my walk to university. How’s that for acclimatising?

Now, I’m not sure if any of you have noticed, but a week from today…it’s Christmas! For that reason I had hoped to delight you with a rendition of my newly learned villancicos (“Christmas carols”), but I am sad to report that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to hear any. Sadder still, I was completely incensed to learn that, unlike in my Christmas-crazed hometown of Glasgow, Valencia’s decorations do not appear hot on the heels of Halloween celebrations. So where’s the Christmas cheer, Spain? Well, I must assure you that the festive spirit here is second to none, if kicked-off a tad late.

Right now in Valencia’s Plaza de Ayuntamiento (“the Town Hall Square”) you can visit the city’s Belén Monumental (“Nativity scene”) and the nearby Christmas markets are not to be missed. In busy almacenes (“department stores”), you wont find people frantically buying gifts, but instead, families preparing for the much-anticipated Nochebuena feast. Taking place on Christmas eve, this tradition is very much similar to the meals we typically enjoy on Christmas day. Much like other European countries, Spaniards are not known to give their gifts on the 25th, but Spanish children typically receive una pequeña Estrena which normally consists of a small amount of money. At the forefront of celebrations on the 6th of January are the children in Spain. Known as El Día de los Reyes Magos (in English “the Day of the Wise Men”), families receive their gifts and the festive season draws to a close.

Of course, at this time of the year, another important date is that of Nochevieja or New Year’s Eve. Cuando el reloj toca las doce (“when the clock strikes twelve”) instead of exchanging a kiss, Spaniards eat 12 grapes with the sound of every bell, as it is believed that whoever achieves this slightly bizarre feat will have good luck for the upcoming year. As a merely adoptive-Spaniard, I won’t be in Spain for the evening’s celebrations. However, in recent years university associations have been known to band together and host a dry run ahead of schedule in Salamanca, thus including the foreign students in el cotillón (“the New Year’s Party”). Prepare the spare bed, Iain! You’re getting a visitor from Valencia.

Although I hope you will have the good fortune of spending your Christmas at home with your families, hopefully you have found it interesting to learn about some Spanish customs too. Until my next On Location Spanish update, ¡Feliz Navidad, y Próspero Año Nuevo!

On Location French – 17 Dec 2012

121217-scottBonjour à tous et à toutes! It’s Scott here and I’d like to welcome you to this special Yuletide instalment of my On Location French blog!

Noël est arrivé à Toulouse – Christmas has arrived in Toulouse!

The city is now awash with the colours of the resplendent Christmas decorations which beautifully garnish le centre-ville (“city centre“). Pretty lumières (“lights“), suspended between building rooftops, bathe Toulouse’s many streets and avenues in festive luminescence. Le marché de Noël (“the Christmas market“) is in full swing in the city’s main square, la place du Capitole, where the wonderful aromas of marrons chauds (“roasted chestnuts“) and vin chaud (“hot mulled wine“) fill the air. For me, perhaps the only thing missing from this magical Christmas atmosphere is a light dusting of snow (“la neige“), but you can’t have everything!

My studies have now finished up for the semester and I shall be heading back home to Scotland for a couple of weeks over Christmas and New Year – how quickly the time has gone! As they say, “le temps passe vite quand on s’amuse“ – time flies when you’re having fun!

I am really looking forward to seeing all my friends and family again but I am also impatient to return to my life in Toulouse, have more amazing French experiences and share them with you in the new year.

Until then, je vous souhaite un Joyeux Noël et une très Bonne Année. À 2013!

On Location Swedish – 14 Dec 2012

121214-ailieTja! Well, I am not sure about what it is like with my fellow On Location bloggers, but here in Uppsala just about all anyone can talk about is the snow – I know I mentioned this last week, but there really is a lot! I thought it would be quite appropriate this week therefore to talk about some of the snow-related words my Swedish friends have been teaching me.

The word for “snowflakes” – snöflingor – is built up much the same as English; “snö” being snow, and “flingor” being flakes (although nowadays flingor is used to mean cereal in general, or cornflakes more specifically). Istappar, the Swedish word for icicles, I think has to be one of my new favourite Swedish words, meaning “ice pins”, and you certainly get some pretty impressive ones here (my friends attempted a sword fight with some particularly sturdy looking ones…which didn’t really last so long); they can even be seen hanging off the bottom of the buses as they drive around, and along the river here. A snowman becomes “en snögubbe” (“gubbe” being a colloquial word for “old man” – quite appropriate when you think of the wizened carrot noses and old hats which adorn them), and “snowfall” becomes, quite simply, “snöfall”.

Speaking of snöfall, Swedish also has several different words for types of snow: nysnö is freshly fallen snow (literally, “new snow”); kramsnö is the wet snow perfect for making snöbollar (snowballs); pulversnö is powdery, and spårsnö is the kind of snow in which tracks are left when people or animals walk through it – so as you can see, there is definitely more to it than just snö!

One last idiom to end with today, which is fairly common to hear (although it is related to ice and not to snow), which literally means “to have ice in the stomach”:

Han har is i magen.
He can really keep his cool.

Until next time, hej då!

Coffee Break Spanish Magazine – Episode 108

The latest edition of the Coffee Break Spanish Magazine is now available. Join the team and improve your Spanish! In this edition:

  • Alba asks her interviewees, si te tocara la lotería, ¿qué harías con el dinero? Like last week you’ll hear a range of accents featured in the answers, with a sprinkling of imperfect subjunctives and conditionals for good measure!;
  • Laura teaches us the phrases tirar la casa por la ventana, meaning “to splash out” or to spend a lot of money;
  • and JP and Nahyeli look at the Mexican word chale and how it is used.

On Location Italian – 13 Dec 2012

121213-nicoleBuongiorno a tutti! It’s Nicole here, back with another On Location Italian blog post! The festive season is fast approaching and here in Verona it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I have spent much of this week visiting i Mercatini di Natale (“the Christmas Markets”) which are situated just off one of the city’s main squares, Piazza delle Erbe. On one particular occasion, as I embraced the Christmas atmosphere (atomosfera natalizia) by enjoying some mulled wine (vin brulé) and roasted chestnuts (castagne), I could hear pipes being played in the background. It then dawned on me that I didn’t know the word for bagpipes in Italian. I thought that this would be a useful word for a Scotswoman to know and so I made a point of looking it up when I returned to my flat, discovering that “bagpipes” in Italian is cornamusa.

I have also come across a few handy expressions connected with Christmas this week. My Italian friend spoke of “having the Christmas spirit”, using the phrase avere lo spirito natalizio. She also explained to me that to say in Italian “to decorate the Christmas tree” you can use both fare l’albero di Natale or decorare l’albero di Natale.

All the Christmas festivities in Verona have brought back some fond memories of spending Christmas in Italy with my family a few years ago. Although quite young at the time, I still vividly remember watching il Presepio Vivente (“the Living Nativity”). The first Presepio Vivante was created by Saint Frances of Assisi in 1223 and has been organised by many cities throughout Italy ever since. As the name suggests, il Presepio Vivante involves the use of actual people and animals to represent a living nativity scene.

I hope to come across a Presepio Vivante during the festive period in Italy but for now I am enjoying i Mercatini di Natale – the perfect place “to buy Christmas presents” (fare i regali di Natale). Thank you for reading On Location Italian and I will be back soon! A presto!

On Location German- 12th December 2012

121212-danielHallo zusammen! Daniel here again for this year’s last blog post and as we have reached that time of year again, this article’s going to be based on Weihnachten – Christmas, with emphasis on food. On Thursday, I learned that the 6th December is known as ‘Nikolaustag’ (‘St. Nicholas’ Day’). This is the traditional start of the Christmas celebrations in Germany and, although not a public holiday, is still taken seriously everywhere. Children are left sweets the night before (if they’ve been good!) and I got a bag of chocolates from colleagues at work! By this point in the season, Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets) have already opened up all over Germany from the big cities like Hamburg to the smaller towns like Dülmen and Herford. Some Weihnachtsmärkte even have eine Eislaufbahn – an ice rink!

Traditional German Christmas food and drink can also be found at every Christmas market. In the city of Osnabrück last week, I had eine Feuerzangenbowle, which is like mulled wine with rum-soaked sugar melted into it by setting fire to it from above! Another delicious treat was Berner-Würstel or Käsegriller, which are sausages wrapped in bacon with bits of melted cheese through them. As well as the traditional German food and drink, you can also find some arguably less German foods at the markets, such as Elsässer Flammkuchen, or tarte flambée for the francophones among you, which is kind of like a thin onion and bacon pizza with a crème fraîche base, from the Alsace region of France.

After a couple of weeks of touring multiple Weihnachtsmärkte, I’ve realised that it’s no surprise that Germany is famous for them! They may not be the healthiest place to go, with all the sugary alcohol and bacon-wrapped pork, but there are few better places to spend a wintery evening!

Ich wünsche euch ein frohes Weihnachtsfest und alles Gute zum neuen Jahr!
(I wish you all a merry Christmas(festival) and best wishes for the new year!)

Until next year!


On Location Spanish – 11 Dec 2012

121211-iainBuenos días y bienvenidos a todos to the final update from Salamanca of 2012. It’s Iain here, and I’ve been out braving the cold weather to bring you some updates of the preparations that Salamanca has been making for the festive season.

Last night, I met up with my classmate Carlos for a tour of Salamanca en Navidad (“Salamanca at Christmas”). We started on Gran Vía with una ración de castañas (“a portion of roasted chestnuts”) from a street vendor, the likes of which have been popping up all over the city and tempting passers-by with their delicious scent. I can confirm that as temperatures dip below zero on some nights, they are a brilliant antidote to the biting cold.

The Christmas lights have only been shining down on the Rúa Mayor for a few days now, and I explained to Carlos that the celebrations of Christmas in Salamanca seem to start much later than back home in Scotland. According to Carlos, this is because Spain place a greater importance on el día de los Reyes (“the day of the Kings”), which falls on the 6th of January, rather than Christmas Day as is typical in Scotland. This day celebrates the return of los Reyes Magos (“the three Wise Men”) from their visit of Jesus.

Carlos told me that he was looking forward to the roscón de Reyes (“King’s day cake”) which his mother traditionally makes. This sweet treat has two surprises baked into it; one is a miniature king, and the other is typically a bean. If you find the king in your portion, you are given una corona como un Rey Mago (“a crown like one of the Wise Men”); if you bite down on the bean, you’re less fortunate and traditionally must pay the host for the roscón.

As we walked through the Plaza Mayor, Carlos asked me:

“¿A dónde vas a tomar las uvas?”

I was initially puzzled, as this translates literally as “where are you going to take the grapes?”. However, it transpires that Carlos was asking where I was going to celebrate the arrival of the New Year; traditionally in Spain, a grape is consumed with each ring of the 12 bells at midnight to celebrate the arrival of the new year. With a brief chat about plans for la nochevieja (“New Year’s Eve”), we parted.

It’s back to the books for me, as I have several exams prior to the holidays. It’s absolutely incredible to think that I’ve been here for four months, however Salamanca still manages to surprise – it’s an amazing place to learn Spanish.

¡Hasta el año nuevo!

On Location French – 10 Dec 2012

121210-roseSalut tout le monde! It’s Rose here, glad to get to the end of a busy week!  I’ve been kept busy doing speaking exams with my terminale(final year) pupils this week, as well as my usual classes.  Unfortunately this week at school l’imprimante était en panne (the printer was broken) and it seems impossible to get it fixed!  I did pick up a handy little phrase through this though. As we were gathered round trying to see what was wrong, one teacher made a suggestion then said: “mais je mets mon grain de sel“. At first I couldn’t see the link between salt and a broken printer, but I checked with another teacher later and mettre son grain de sel is an idiomatic expression for giving one’s opinion, similar to ‘that’s my two pennies/cents worth.’

I think this highlights how seriously French people take their food.  Lunch at the school canteen here is a three course meal with four different types of cheese, coffee and even wine for the teachers!  It has been a pleasure to try so many local delicacies here in Brittany.  The main speciality of the region is galettes, savoury crêpes made with brown flour.  Even the smallest of crêperies will have lots of varieties of galettes, with fillings like ham, cheese, lardons, spinach, eggs and onions.  The most popular here is galette saucisse, a galette with Breton sausage.  Last weekend I visited the nearby city of Rennes, and we ate some galettes saucisses at the Christmas market, le marché de noel.  We also drank some cidre chaud, hot cider, another regional speciality – the Breton equivalent of mulled wine!  People here like to drink Breizh Colatoo, a soft drink similar to Coca Cola.

Unfortunately (depending on how you see it!) another side of living in Brittany is the weather – that really meaning, rain!  At least I never feel too far from home.  This week, as we were waiting for the pupils to arrive, a teacher said to me, ‘Il pleut des cordes, aujourd’hui,’ which is another little expression, like saying ‘it’s raining cats and dogs.’  It’s meant to signify that the rain looks like cords falling down from the sky, which I guess makes more sense than our English expression!  I hope you enjoyed this post, and à la prochaine!

On Location Swedish – 7 Dec 2012

121207-ailieHej! Well, it’s officially the run-up to Christmas now, and as a result suddenly huge Christmas trees are being placed all around Uppsala, lights are going up, shop windows have become explosions of red, gold and green, and everywhere you see offers on glögg (traditional Swedish mulled wine) and lussekatter (Lucia buns… more on that later!). It is almost getting too cold and icy for people to cycle – which luckily makes no difference to me, being one of maybe three students in Uppsala without a bike. It is this absence of a bike which has actually inspired this week’s article on the Swedish verbs att gå and att åka: verbs with an everyday use, but which are, at least for me, so easy to mix up!

Both and åka can be translated into English as “to go”, and this where most problems arise; especially with sounding so much like the English, making it tempting to use it all the time and forgetting about åka completely! However, in doing so, you would essentially be telling people that you walk everywhere… leading them to possibly thinking you had given up on all modern methods of transport and decided to live like you are from another century – not really the best impression to give, I am sure you will agree! The general rule is, with , if you are referring to a person or people, it means travelling by foot, – åka is the verb to use if you are using something else to help you get there (åka cykel – to go by bike; åka bil – to go by car; åka skidor – to ski).

However, can also be used when referring to inanimate objects and not people to refer to movement. For example, you can ask “Går det här tåget till Stockholm?” (“Does this train go to Stockholm?”) without any problem; likewise “Hur går det med dig?” (“How are things?”) has nothing to do with if someone is able to walk, but just generally how things are going in life.

One final (although not especially recommended) alternative a close friend of mine often uses on forgetting that can mean going by foot, is promenera: it often brings a smile to people’s faces being told that they must stroll or promenade along the platform to find their train! Until next time – hej då!

On Location Italian – 6 Dec 2012

121207-nicoleBuongiorno a tutti and welcome to this week’s On Location Italian. It’s Nicole here writing to you all once again from the Italian city of Verona. I am now into the final straight with only a few weeks left until I am home for Christmas. I have therefore decided that it is all hands on decks in terms of speaking, reading, listening and watching all things Italian before my return to bonny Scotland.

I have been fairly successful in my resolution to immerse myself in the Italian culture. Nevertheless, this week I managed to fit in a little International dinner party with some fellow Erasmus students. We each cooked a dish typical of our nation and brought it along for the others to taste. Seated around the table was a whole host of different nationalities each sharing one common interest: our desire to continually improve our Italian. We therefore spent the evening sharing stories of our various cultures, speaking solely in Italian. Thanks to the evening, I was able to add some new words to my Italian vocabulary list. For example, one friend spoke of an acquazzone, which is Italian for “heavy shower” or “downpour”. He also used the reflexive verb inzupparsi meaning “to get soaked”, with the verb inzuppare being translated as “to soak”. Inzuppare can also mean “to dunk/dip”. Just imagine dipping bread in soup (la zuppa is the Italian word for “soup”).

Another phrase I heard was mi hanno preso in giro (“they teased me”). The word giro can have various meanings, including “turn” or “round”. To give an example of its use, the phrase fare il giro del mondo means “to travel the world”. My friend however used it in the phrase prendere in giro (“to make fun of”).

It just goes to show that with each social event comes the opportunity to further improve my Italian. And whilst I love getting involved in the Italian culture, there is still time to learn about other countries before I head back to Glasgow. I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog post for this week and I will be back soon with more On Location Italian. A presto!

Coffee Break Spanish Magazine Episode 107

The latest edition of the Coffee Break Spanish Magazine is now available. Join the team and improve your Spanish! In this edition:

  • Alba asks her interviewees, ¿ayer hiciste algo especial? Answers cover a range of topics – and accents!;
  • Laura teaches us what hablar por los codos means;
  • and JP and Nahyeli discuss medical Spanish in response to a listener’s question.

On Location German – 5 Dec 2012

121205-hollyHallo! It’s Holly here again with another blog post from Germany.

I have now moved in with a German family, so I am getting to speak lots of German and I am learning lots of new things about German culture and new words every day.  When I was moving out of the Jugendgästehaus (youth house/accommodation for young people doing work placements) where I was previously living and moving into my new house, I learned the words ausziehen (to move out), einziehen (to move in) and umziehen (to move house). It’s interesting to see that in German, like in English, adding different prefixes to words can change the meaning!

We have dinner together as a big family and the other day I was told that das Leitungswasser means tap water in German. In the UK we drink a lot of tap water, whereas Germans seem to like all of their drinks to be carbonated. When you buy bottles of water or juice you will often see mit Kohlensäure which means that it is carbonated. Literally, Kohlensäure is carbonic acid, and it seems strange to be buying a drink and asking for it “with carbonic acid”, but this is very common in German.

In the same week as moving in with this family I also needed to visit the doctor for the first time abroad. It is much harder to get an appointment here than in the UK but I did, however, manage to get an appointment with the local Hausarzt (GP). I was given a Rezept (prescription) for an Inhalator (inhaler) and I had to take it to the Apotheke (pharmacy). I feel like I have learned so much new vocabulary this week! For example, Der Husten is a cough and Der Hustenbonbon is a cough sweet and these two words have come in very useful as I’ve coughed and spluttered my way through lessons in the past few days! Another phrase that I have heard all of my friends saying recently is:

Ich bin erkältet
I have the cold.

On a brighter note, I am loving the crisp winter mornings here and can’t believe how quickly everything is going! I hope that you are all enjoying these blog posts. Bis bald!

On Location Spanish – 4 Dec 2012

121204-graceBienvenido a todos to Grace’s On Location Spanish Update. Here in Valencia our beachwear is slowly giving way to wooly jumpers and sensible shoes as we find ourselves in the rainy season. Although I am assured by my friend John that as we move on through December we will see the return of the dry weather. Nevertheless, I’ve been to the Corte Inglés to buy myself un paraguas (“an umbrella”) just in case.

With the winter weather setting in, an unmistakable quiet has replaced the normal buzz that occupies our tree-lined streets. On any given Sunday, or indeed any week day between two and four, the siesta state of mind reigns supreme, and no one would blame you for thinking you’d woken up post-apocalypse. Struck by the same eerie quiet as I strolled down Passeo de Russafa with a few other ingleses (“English people”, UK dwellers beware that to distinguish yourself as anything other than English in Spain is to tacitly enter into a debate about Independence and Spain’s Autonomous Communities) it became all too clear that during the colder months the average Spaniard takes to indoor pursuits.

Following suit, we all decided to take refuge from the rain by visiting the cinema on the same Passeo de Russafa. Gazing upon a wall of posters, whose English-Spanish translations were of a varying calibre, we argued among ourselves as to which blockbuster we should select for our first Spanish cinematic experience. For my part, I had hoped that Continental Europe would spare me the James Bond hysteria that’s taking the English-speaking world by storm. No luck. Not only is the franchise very popular in Spain, but Spanish-born Javier Bardem’s appearance as the latest villano de Bond (“Bond Villain”) has only served to increase the hype. With some embarrassment I must admit that this would be my first James Bond film. Now not only am I a fanatic, but I would thoroughly recommend a visit to the cinema for anyone learning a language.

Once I came to terms with an hispanohablante (“Spanish speaking”) Dame Judy Dench, I was encouraged by how much of the plot I could follow without recourse to the dictionary. Intently following the narrative I noticed that Daniel Craig’s character is referred to as Zero Zero Siete (“007”) and not the Doble Zero Siete (“Double 0 Seven”) with which we are more familiar. Another phrase which we might associate with the franchise is “007 Reporting for Duty”, an idea which arguably looses its sentiment when translated for a Spanish audience. Replaced by the words…

Zero Zero Siete, listo para el servicio.

… this literally translates as “007 Ready for Service”,  which is definitely a moot point for those of us who have had the pleasure of seeing the latest installment.

Before my next blog post, I hope to have broadened my horizons to Spanish film. Nonetheless I hope you’ve still enjoyed the little Spanish insight into British film. Join me again soon for more On Location Spanish. ¡Hasta la vista!