11 July 2010

You Bet Your Life

Words are wonderfully fascinating things. Besides continuously trying to increase my vocabulary in English and Spanish I subscribe to a number of "Word-of-the-Day" lists in various languages including Mandarin Chinese, French, German, and Portuguese. No...I have no real intentions of becoming fluent in those other languages but it only takes a few minutes a day to learn something new and it is full of surprises. I am reminded of the old Groucho Marx show, "You Bet Your Life!". At the beginning of each show Groucho would "secretly" share a common word with the audience and if a contestant later said the word, a toy duck resembling Groucho with a mustache, eyeglasses, and cigar in its mouth dropped down from above from the ceiling with a $100 bill for the lucky winner. My Dad smoked cigars just like Groucho and he loved that show. I have some very fond memories of watching the show with my Dad.

Today the word on the German vocabulary list was "sich beklagen" meaning "to complain about something". My Dad often used the phrase "Quit your bellyaching" by which he meant "Quit complaining". To say "Quit complaining" in German you could say "Beenden Sie beklagen". That makes me wonder if "bellyaching" might actually come from the German word "beklagen".

The other day the Brazilian Portuguese list had the word "empregada" meaning "maid" as in "domestic maid". In Spanish the word "impregnada" means "one who is impregnated". In the old days servant girls were often fair game for the master of the house and were sometimes impregnated as a result. I wonder if there is a connection between the Portuguese "empregnada" and the Spanish "impregnada". Hmmm...




4 comments:

Calypso said...

Well I just spent a half hour watching Groucho - A funny guy. I remember the show well - thanks for the memory

Gloria said...

Sounds like empanada to me. hehehe. Now I'm hungry. tee hee.
Glad you are learning new words, it's always good to keep that brain on the move. I do crosswords and that helps me. I must say though, I miss classes and the challenge of writing essays and being the oldest in the class.?? Did I say that? Have a great week Bob.

Laurie said...

Words are interesting. For instance, we use pulperia for a small store. Pulpo is octopus. And El Pulpo was the name for the big banana companies that ran Central America for many years. I think the name was the slang for the company stores. By the way, no pulperia sells pulpo, just the ordinary stuff of small stores.

Bob Mrotek said...

Calypso,
We are about the same age and I have a feeling that the video brought back to you a memory of simpler times just like it did for me. Sigh...!

Gloria,
You always brighten my day :)

Laurie,
The info about Pulpo is fascinating. I'll bet that there is a real interesting story there :)

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.