Tuesday, February 9, 2010

EL blog y LAS palabras

A few days ago, my Grandma Jodene sent me a cute email about Spanish. As some of you may know, every noun in Spanish is either masculine or feminine. For example, they say 'la mapa' for the map and 'el libro' for the book. Usually the trick is that if the word ends in 'a' it is feminine and if it ends in 'o' its masculine, but there are some tricky words that end in a consanant and you can't tell, you just have to remember.

So, the joke starts with a student asking whether the word for computer is masculine or feminine. Without telling her class the answer, the teacher split the class into boys and girls and asked them to come up with a reason why it should be one or the other. The boys presented first and said that computers should be feminine - la comput because 1) no one but their creator understands their logic, 2) the language that computers use to communicate with each other is incomprehensible to anyone else, 3) even the smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for possible later retrieval, and 4) as soon as you commit yourself to one, you find yourself spending your paycheck on accessories for it!

The girls thought it should be masculine - el computador - because 1) in order to do anything with them you have to first turn them on, 2) they have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves, 3) they are supposed to solve your problems but half the time they ARE the problem, and 4) as soon as you commit to one you realize that if you would have waited a little longer you could have got a better one! The girls won hahaha. I thought it was quite a cute and clever joke that anyone who uses a computer will chuckle at.

The funny thing is that in Spain, they don't even use the word computador or computadora, both of which are correct, but instead they used 'el ordenador'. I learned computadora in high school, but apparently it means nothing in this type of Spanish. There are a few other words that I have learned that kind of strike me as funny when you think of them with as masculine or feminine. For example, earrings, a quite girly thing, is actually named 'los pendientes' and another is lipstick which is called 'lapíz de labios', another masculine word for a non-masculine thing...unless you know guys who sport earrings and lipstick!

Another funny thing are the bad words that are designated female. Like this one - 'la problema'. Sure you can figure out what that word means! Now can someone tell me why the problems have to be female?! Or what about 'la crisis'? Another pretty shameful term deemed to be feminine! If they are going to give us these words, they could at least give us diamond, but no, 'el diamante' is masculine!

It's become an every-day part of my life, giving a sex to a noun, but when I received Grandma's email it reminded me that there are some pretty funny things about this language! Glad we don't have it in English!

Besos! (Another masculine term, along with hug 'el abrazo'. Come on! Women need love too!)

No comments: