Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Vagaries of Language

Yesterday afternoon was Spanish class, a free course given the 1st Sat. of each month from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Redondo Beach main library.  The instructor, Olga Stohr is gifted at making learning fun.

Yesterday the class discovered that there's no single word in Spanish for "hide" as in "That's the hide of a buffalo I shot in downtown Calgary."  Instead one must say, "ocultar piel de un animal."  If you are describing the verb "to hide" the word is "esconder."   As in "Yo esconder los pesatas banque de Bahamas."  (Roughly)

The discussion about all of the above prompted the guy next to me to wonder about the use of "heat" as in racing - particularly horse racing.  He wondered where it came from and that prompted my own curiosity.  "Heat" = hot, fervor, ardor -- emotional responses vs. heat/hot ("caliente")  The horse racing application dates back to 1660 England. 

Years ago I was a fan of the writer Robert Ruark, who was sort of a low rent Hemingway.  His book "Something of Value" covered the Mau Mau uprising in Africa and in it, he remarked that there is no word for "love" in Swahili (ergo one couldn't say "I love you.")  Curious to see if the word had ever been added to the vocabulary, I asked and discovered that the phase is one word - "ninakupenda" with "ni" being "I" and all the rest of the word the rest of the sentence.
I have no idea how it's pronounced, but feel free to use it as you will.   And by the way, it's a bad idea to shoot buffalo in downtown Calgary.  Just so you know...

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