Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Pamplona Break


Finally getting over my stomach bug - after several days of eating rice, bananas, boiled ham and dry biscuits. If a tote of rum had been thrown into the mix, I might have been dining like a sailor bound from the West Indies. Fittingly, I'm now listening to some baroque music from Latin America Moon, sun & all things.
On Tuesday, I felt well enough to go driving a short way eastwards to the edge of the Pyrenees, for a hike to a gorge, and a visit to Jokin's family's country cottage. In the latter place, Bondi earned his keep by shaking paws and posing with a gaggle of sobrinos (nephews) and sobrina (niece).
Many words in Spanish have different endings to indicate masculine vs feminine e.g. perro/perra (dog), tio/tia (uncle, aunt), nieto/a (grandson, granddaughter). As it happens, there has been a flurry of press over the birth of a new daughter to the Prince, heir to the Spanish throne. This is the King's 7th grandchild, but I noticed that the newsreport labels this as "la septima nieta", which is literally "the seventh granddaughter", even though not all the grandchildren are female. The "-a" ending of septima is to agree with the feminine noun. There is no gender-neutral word for grandchild. In bygone days, it was understood that the masculine form is the generic term, thus los padres is parents, but el padre is father and la madre is mother. It would not be correct to say that the new baby Infanta ( a "Princess" is the wife of a Prince, not the daughter of a King or Prince) is "el septimo nieto" as she is not a "he". So, the only way to accurately indicate the distribution of sexes in the grandchildren is to render her birth as "the fourth granddaughter of seven grandchildren".
With the new Antonio Banderas + Catherine Zeta Jones film hitting the screens, I discovered that Zorro is Spanish for fox. While it is a compliment to call someone a fox, or "foxy lady" in English, it is not so in Spanish: zorra or "female fox" is the local equivalent of bitch.


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