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Archive for September, 2009

by Brandi

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September 28th, 2009

Currently where I reside in the western United States, there are many rest homes and assisted living centers nearby where elderly people go to live. Within about a five mile radius of our business, there are about five facilities with one right next door to our building.

In the assisted living centers, the people that live there are somewhat independent. They usually have their meals cooked for them, entertainment planned, and transportation provided to go places. However, people residing in rest homes need more constant care, both physical and medical. Both rest homes and assisted living centers are usually very expensive.

When I lived in Latin America, I asked several of the locals if there were “rest homes” in the area. It took me quite a while to even figure out what the word for “rest home” was in Spanish, because only a few Latin Americans were familiar with them. After asking a few local friends, I finally found out that the word for “rest home” in Spanish is “asilo de ancianos”. The interesting part of that name is that “ancianos” means “ancient” or “elderly”, and the word “asilo” means “asylum”, “refuge” or “shelter”. So basically, if it is directly translated, it would be called an “elderly asylum” or “elderly shelter”. (more…)

by Brandi

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September 21st, 2009

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In each of the Latin American countries I’ve lived in or visited, the people react to “el sarcasmo” (sarcasm) very differently than they do here in the United States.

In the United States the use of sarcasm is widespread and is used as a common, daily form of communication. For example, if someone you know purchased a new shirt that was obviously a little strange, you could tease them by saying “Nice shirt!” Of course, when you say “Nice shirt!” what you really mean is, “Wow, that shirt is a little crazy or strange.”

In Latin America, people generally aren’t used to hearing or using sarcasm with one another. For example, one time I was working with a native Spanish speaker who was wearing a very unusual sweater. It was definitely out of the ordinary and somewhat different. I said, “Nice sweater!” After I said that he looked at me with a thoughtful look and said “Thanks”. He didn’t understand the fact that I was using sarcasm with him and that I thought he sweater was a little unusual. He thought I was serious and was giving him a nice compliment about his strange sweater. (more…)

by Brandi

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September 14th, 2009

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Before we get started with this week’s subject, I want to discuss some observations I received from a few of you on last week’s newsletter. I talked about a few words like “parabrisas” and “parachoques” which start with the word “para”. The word “para” has more than one meaning in English. It can mean “for”, as I mentioned last week, but it can also mean “stop” or “stops”. For example, the word “windshield” (“parabrisas”) can be translated as “for breezes” and/or “stops breezes”. Several native speakers e-mailed me last week to let me know that the later is preferred. This concept is the same for the word “parachoques” and also for the word “paraguas” (new word that was not covered last week) which translates to “umbrella”. The English translation of the word “paraguas” is “stops water”.

This week I want to mention a myth about speaking Spanish as well as some techniques to instantly learn hundreds of Spanish words.

Many Americans mistakenly think you can add the letter “o” to English words and those words instantly become Spanish. Even though this does work once in a blue moon, more often than not it doesn’t work at all and just causes confusion. I have heard several Americans in Latin America use this flawed technique and suffer from a huge communication gap.

Here are a few techniques that work a lot of the time, but there are exceptions. Each of these techniques involves suffixes (word endings):

1. “-ction” = “-cción”: action (acción), attraction (attracción), fiction (ficción), reaction (reacción)

2. “-ty” = “-dad”: university (universidad), activity (actividad), intensity (intensidad), ability (abilidad)

3. “-tion” = “-ción”: activation (activación), penetration (penetración), station (estación), vacation (vacación)

4. “-ssion” = “-sión”: session (sesión), passion (pasión), depression (depresión), aggression (agresión)

5. “-ive” = “-ivo”: active (activo), passive (pasivo), relative (relativo), intensive (intensivo), massive (masivo). Partly because of this “ivo/ive” technique, people try to ineffectively put an “o” on the end of any English word to turn it into Spanish.

6. “-ly” = “-mente”: recently (recientemente), actively (activamente), relatively (relativamente), effectively (efectivamente). This technique (“ly/mente”) isn’t as reliable in taking words from English into Spanish but can help you better decipher the meaning of written Spanish words.

Moral of the Story: When you really need to guess a Spanish word, the techniques mentioned above can be helpful. They can also be very useful in helping you decipher written messages. But, you need to remember that that are many exceptions to these techniques. Unfortunately they aren’t fool-proof.

Sneak peek at next week: “El sarcasmo”

¡Hasta luego! (Until later!)
David S. Clark — President / Director

Click here to learn Spanish!

by Brandi

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September 7th, 2009

As you learn Spanish you’ll see there are many great words that I really enjoy and get a kick out of. Today I will share some of these with you as well as discuss a little about culture.

Some of my favorite words in Spanish have to do with cars. These words may vary by region; for example, the word for “horn” in one country is “cláxon”, and in another country it is “bocina”. Most core Spanish words are the same in each country but certain specialized words vary in different regions of the world.

Now we’ll move on to some more of the fun words. The word for car “windshield” is “para brizas”, which literally translates to “it stops breezes”. In Spanish, the word used for “bumper” is “para choques”, which translates to “it stops crashes”. And, the word for a heavy-duty grill in the front of a vehicle is called “mataperros” which means “dog killer”.

Now of course, for the record, we are a very animal-friendly company, website and blog, and I wouldn’t have used the word “mataperros” for “grill” if I had invented Spanish. However, by way of information, that is simply the name for “grill” on a vehicle in some areas. I believe that Latin-Americans may have called it “mataperros” because there is an abundance of dogs in many Latin American countries — especially in many poor pueblos where they seem to be everywhere. A few areas have a kind of dog that is pretty strange. This dog is gray and is pretty much bald with just a few hairs on its head. Where I am from, I have never seen a dog of that breed before going to Latin America, and especially not tons of them in the same city. I’ll just say that it this is the kind of dog I would not choose to own myself.

Now, I must break a myth. In some parts of Asia people eat dogs but this is not so in Latin America. Even though there are hundreds of dogs there, they do not eat dogs — at least not in the Latin countries I have ever lived in or visited. However, they do eat guinea pigs which are pets in the United States, but that is a different topic.

While we are talking about food, there is a fun phrase that I really enjoy in Spanish that people use commonly. This phrase is “me ostiga” and it means “I’ve eaten so much of that type of food that I am really tired of it”. There are certain places to use and not to use this phrase. Remember, as I have mentioned in past newsletters, if someone in Latin America invites you to dinner, if you so not eat everything or are not very complimentary and thankful for the food, they can become very offended by your behavior. In other words, don’t ever use the phrase “me ostiga” with the host/hostess that invited you to eat. The proper place to use this phrase would be after the meal when you’re talking to a friend and after you’re out of earshot from the host/hostess.

Moral of the Story: 1. Spanish words can be fun to learn as log as you use them in the proper place. 2. Don’t plan on eating dog in Latin America, but be prepared to meet lots of dogs if you visit smaller pueblos. 3. Remember to eat all of your food when eating dinner with the native speakers and always compliment the host/hostess. 4. You may eat guinea pig in some countries but it isn’t too common so I wouldn’t worry very much if you don’t want to eat it.

Sneak peek at next week: “How to instantly learn hundreds of Spanish words.”

¡Hasta luego! (Until later!)
David S. Clark — President / Director

by Brandi

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September 2nd, 2009

Vocabulary This Week To Help You Learn Spanish

a veces – sometimes
adultos – adults
algo – something
amable – friendly
amigos latinos – Latin friends
aquí – here
casi siempre – almost always
casual – casual (same spelling in both languages)
conmigo – with me
conversación – conversation
cuando – when
cultura – culture
cultura hispana – Spanish (Latin) culture
cultura latina entre – Latin culture among
de hábito – out of habit
el cual – which
formal – formal (same spelling in both languages)
frase del día – phrase of the day
gente – people
grupo de gente – group of people
hoy – today
manera – way
mano – hand
Me acostumbré tanto a – I got so used to
muchas regiones – many regions
mucho más – much more
o – or
otra vez – again
otros – others
padres – parents
parientes – relatives
pasar – to pass by
persona – person
se abrazan – they hug each other
significa – means
tal vez – maybe
todavía lo hago – I still do it (todavía=sometimes, hago=I do, lo=it)
una situación social – a social situation
útil – useful

The cultura hispana is usually very polite and more formal than the cultura in the U.S. — el cual has a tendency to be a little more casual. Like I have mentioned in the past, when amigos latinos o parientes greet each other (women greet women or women greet men), they usually kiss each other on the cheek. When men greet men, if they are amigos o parientes, they will usually shake hands and/or se abrazan. They generally shake hands when greeting each other and otra vez before leaving una situación social. (more…)

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