07 May 2013

A cat by any other name...

Now that I am getting along fairly well with my Spanish I am still learning new words and phrases all the time. There is really no end to it. For example, suppose you want to say to a friend, "Let's arm wrestle". You could make your best effort and say "¿Quieres luchar con brazo?" and if you put your arm in the arm wrestling position you would most likely be understood but you might also make the other person laugh, There are several ways to say it more correctly in the Spanish where I live in Central Mexico:

1.) ¿Quieres jugar las vencidas?
2.) ¿Quieres jugar unas fuerzas?
3.) ¿Quieres jugar fuercitas?

The first one is based upon the word "vencer", to defeat and the other two are based on the word "fuerza", strength.

You might also hear "¿Quieres jugar gallitos?" but that means "thumb wrestling. (gallitos = little roosters).

In South American countries, for arm wrestling you are also likely to hear:

1.) ¿Quieres jugar a las pulseadas?
2.) ¿Quieres echar un pulso?

Gets a bit confusing, eh? One of my favorite bits of trivia involves what is called in English "the number sign", or "the pound sign", or "the hash sign" or the "hashtag" (on Twitter) and it looks like this: #

In Mexican Spanish, however, it is commonly called "el gato", "the cat", as in:

"Marca la tecla del gato"...Press the # key. In formal business situations "la tecla del gato" is also known as "el símbolo (signo) de número", meaning "the number symbol" or "the number sign". In other Spanish speaking countries it may be called  "el cuadradillo" (the little square) or "la almohadilla" (the little pad).

The "simbolo del gato" is also what Mexican people call the lines that are used in the game that we call "tic-tac-toe" in American English and "noughts and crosses" in British English, but in Spain and some other places they call "tres en raya" meaning "three in a row".

"¿Quieres jugar gato?"...Do you want to play tic-tac-toe?

Some people think that the # symbol is the same as the musical symbol meaning "sharp" in English ("sostenido" in Spanish). However, if you will notice the cross bars on the "hash" symbol are horizontal and those of the "sharp" are slanted upward from left to right.

There is an old common belief is that the name for the hash sign for numbering derives from "thorpe", the Old Norse word for a village or farm that is often seen in British place names. The symbol was originally used in map making, representing a village surrounded by eight fields, so it was named the "octothorpe" literally meaning "eight fields".

Well, that's enough for today. I think it's time to put this little kitty to bed.


Don Cuevas said...

Bob, we were just chatting after Sunday dinner about what had become of you and your blog, and here you are! Good to have you back.

Don Cuevas

Bob Mrotek said...

Thanks, Señor Cuevas. Rumors of my demise appear to be rampant. Actually I have been busy studying philosophy, starting with the ancient Greeks and just now working my way through Augustine. Very rewarding. I highly recommend the pursuit :)

Barb said...

Good to see you posting again. I always enjoy your writings.

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About Me

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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.