Wednesday, June 17, 2009


My Spanish is slowly - but surely - improving. Yesterday, I got out my iPod and listened to a broadcast of BBC's Mundo - a daily Spanish news roundup. When I was last listening to Mundo, back in Bellevue in December, I'd get the general drift of a news story, but miss all the details. This time I understood every word and thought the announcer and the various reporters were really speaking quite slowly - as I'm sure they were.

I'm understanding the radio here, and getting the gist of overheard conversations, and enjoying talking with Thelma and her family at mealtimes. The verbs still get crossed on my tongue, but at least I'm usually aware of that.

On the other hand, there are moments in Spanish - as in English, as in any language - that feel a bit to the learner like a trap deliberately set for fools to fall into. I've long known that most Spanish nouns that end in -ma look like feminine nouns, but are, in fact, masculine: el mapa (the map) or el trauma. Imagine my dismay at discovering that el arma (the armament) is, instead, a feminine noun with which you use the masculine article el. El arma perfecta you would need to say, or las armas vendidas. Alas!

1 comment:

  1. Many Spanish masculine nouns ending in "a" are Greek or direct loan words. Trauma (danke, Herr Doktor Freud) is German. Problema and tema are Greeek. Mapa and arma are late medieval Latin, rather than the source Roman vocabulary.