Friday, July 30, 2010


A little language lesson this morning:
In Spanish the words for Expect, wait, and hope are all the same word.
One uses the verb Esperar to convey that one is hoping, or waiting--like I am waiting for her to get here so we can leave.  or Wait for me!! And one would use this verb to say I expect my students to follow daily routines without having to be spoken to.
{do not even begin to wonder where those example sentences came from--it is hard to make stuff like that up spur of the moment--but this coffee is helping me.)
So, then some linguistic nerds people might start to wonder...well do people who speak Spanish as their first language think of these three different actions (very different to the native English speaker) as the same thing?  I mean in their minds is it basically the same thing to wait/hope/expect?  I have told, no.  The three ideas are conveyed in the context of what the speaker says.  So if a speaker is talking about winning a million dollars, then you would think "hope" and if a speaker is talking about the paycheck one would think, "wait". 
We can never really know I think, I mean the background of the word is that for the speakers of spanish one word served perfectly well to express what, in English, are three very different ideas (verbs).
So maybe even to us Wait, hope and expect are very similar--just along a continuum of likelihood of actually happening.  To me, hope is like --well, VERY maybe.  Wait --is pretty certain, just a matter of time.  Expect is daggone it it is going to happen.

There are other examples of this between English and Spanish.  Love is one that we English speakers pretty much can sum up using one word...all kinds and degrees of love are just love.  This is not true for Spanish speakers and when the children at school are learning English and we talk about love--say at Valentine's day, I have had a little girl inform me that I am being "cochina" (literally piggy/gross--to her inappropriate) b/c I am talking about amor--y only mommies y daddies talk about that that is a grown up thing...ha!  Then I had to talk to her about love in English and we use the same words for loving the friends, the dog, the aunt y uncle and the spouse. :).Her eyes were the size of quarters.

So...does this make anyone else wonder what all those ear pieces are feeding into the ears of world leaders at UN meetings, and how are they all REALLY understanding one another--I mean how are they taking what eachother is saying?

1 comment:

Bethany said...

Muchas gracias, I enjoyed this little lesson! I would like to learn spanish... my french has gotten {no} use since school. Hmm - brilliant choice no? :) Ah, practicality vs romanticism. That is very interesting - the distinctions in using the word love in sp. - but that wait/hope/expect are the same word.