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Friday, September 10, 2010

Of Nobel Laureates and Trailer Trash

Learning Spanish takes me in many directions. At the moment I am reading a book of journalism by Gabriel Garcia Marquez called Noticia de un Secuestro (News of a Kidnapping) about the plague of kidnappings in the era of Pablo Escobar. Marquez is always a difficult read for anyone but the most literate Spanish speakers so my dictionary is getting a workout. He must have been a remarkable journalist back when he dedicated himself to reporting. The book has an astonishing clarity you find in few works of nonfiction. Besides a Nobel Prize winner in literature I have been exploring other venues to improve my Spanish.

I’ve said before that one of the greatest things about learning Spanish is that I can justify anything if it helps me learn. I think that Me Llamo Earl falls under most people’s definition of slumming. I had never seen the show before but I’ve had several people tell me that it’s funny (it’s funny). Granted, the vocabulary I’m learning isn’t of the elevated nature that you find in a work of nonfiction by a highly-celebrated author, and most of the low-rent words from the show I already knew, but I can still classify the show as a learning aid. It’s like what Malcolm X said about “by any means necessary.”

Vocabulary I learned from a couple episodes of Me Llamo Earl:
Tachar – to cross out.
Enmendar – to rectify. Earl has a list of bad things he’s done and as he rectifies them he crosses them off his list.
Chamuscar – to scorch or singe. Earl is trying to quit smoking and someone told him that carrots help so he tries to smoke one.
Mangar – to swipe, steal, nick, pinch
Amañar – to fix a game.
Timo – cheat, scam
Potar – puke
Abogado de oficio – court-appointed lawyer
Tacaño – cheap
Don – talent, gift
Puñetero/a – damn.  El puñetero equipo - the damn team. A friend told me the the word comes from the lace on the cuff of a shirt or dress. They are difficult to make so puñetero is sort of like "pain in the ass."

Best joke from the show in the style of Groucho Marx:

¿Por qué quieres suicidarte? (Why do you want to kill yourself?)
Porque no tengo trabajo, no tengo amigos, vivo en una caravana sin calefacción, he fracasado, y me duelen los pies. (Because I don’t have a job or friends, I live in a trailer with no  heat, I’ve failed, and my feet hurt)
¿Has probado otros zapatos?  (Have you tried different shoes?)

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