Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Guess it'll be a while before I get around to learning Spanish, eh?

So I'm trying to refresh my Spanish, which is mostly a matter of reaquiring my lost Spanish vocabulary, as Spanish grammar is something less than a challenge. My problem there is that it's difficult to know when the Spanish my books are giving me is really Iberian Spanish, i.e., Spanish as spoken in Spain, when my purpose is to be able to communicate with people who speak Spanish in Texas. Fortunately Veronica and Daniela at Java Dave's are both kind enough to answer any questions I might have ("do you really ever use the word acontecimiento?") with a good, reliable, down-home Mexican answer.

So I was trying to figure out how to use the word esperar, which, my dictionary vaguely says, means "to hope to" with the subjunctive but "to wait to" with the infinitive. I wasn't sure I was understanding it fully; so I made up an example sentence and fired off an e-mail to Daniela to ask, "Do I have this right?"

As it happens, I did in fact construct the sentence properly. The only problem was, I was typing in a hurry and blew off the tilde, which is to say, the little squiggle that turns n into ñ. My sentence was, "Espero aprender español hasta que tengo mas años," which means, "I'm waiting to learn Spanish until I have more years" -- that is, until I'm older. But, as I say, I blew off the tildes, including on the final word años, i.e., "years:" "Espero aprender espanol hasta que tengo mas anos."

I hit the send button, and then I took my hot tea and walked out of the coffee shop to go home. But something was nagging me...and as I settled into the front seat, the penny at long last dropped.

And I finally remembered -- sadly, too late -- what anos-without-the-tilde means.


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