Thursday, September 28, 2017

Alcazar & All That

Close, but no plátano

Fun bits while improving my Spanish-

Years ago I learned the the word pato. It's the name of a Stan Getz song from his bossa nova days. It means duck (the noun, not the verb) in Portuguese and Spanish.

Yesterday I saw the word pavo in a food context. Pavo, pato, not so different. Could it be a bird that one eats? Can't be chicken, that's pollo (like poulle in French, pullet and poultry in English). So maybe it's turkey. Checked later, yep, turkey it is. Nice.

And some kind of food called uvas. Sounds like ovum, Latin for egg. But eggs are huevos. Umm...grapes? Yes! More nice.

A small store in Spanish is a tienda, literally a tent or booth. A big store is an almacen. I kept thinking that almacen was Arabic (starts with al, a big hint) and that it was familiar to me in an etymological sense, that there were words like it in English, but I couldn't quite nail them down. Then I got it: macen is like magazine, a storehouse, a warehouse, a protective place. Al-macen is the-storehouse. And the m- would be the prefix that takes a verb and makes it into the thing that does the verb: jihad/fight; mujihad/fighter. Or adding -ador to a Spanish verb, e.g. matar, to kill; matador, killer. Checking this morning to confirm, yes, almacen is Arabic. The base triliteral (3-letter) root is h-z-n, to protect. So protector would be m-h-z-n with vowels filling in as needed between the consonants (this is way simplified by an amateur). The protector then is al-mahzan (the plural is al-mahzin, like mujihadin) From almahzan/almahzin the West gets almacen in Spanish, magasin in French, magazzino in Italian, Magazine St. in New Orleans, etc.

Also nice.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Our New House

We will be moving to Cuenca, Ecuador this summer. Here is the house on an overcast day, all natural lighting in the photos:

The front. There's a nice view of the historic center of town from the balcony.

This is one of three spaces that were originally open courtyards. They have glass roofs now, so plants do well in them even though they are nominally interior spaces.

The kitchen looking into the space shown above. The glass ceiling over the former courtyard lets light in through the kitchen window.

The second former outdoor space.

And the third.

This now-covered balcony overlooks the third former courtyard, and connects from the main house to a semi-detached bed, bath, and workspace. The climate is moderate year-round, so the house has no heat or A/C systems, which is typical here. The glass roof is open at the eaves to allow for plenty of outside air.

View from balcony.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Real Leer



Have a look at these Spanish words:
They are cognates of these words:
legere (Latin, to read)
credere (Latin & Italian, to believe)
cadere (Latin & Italian, to fall)
patella (Latin, pan)
audire (Latin, to hear)
radix (Latin, root)
magister (Latin, master)
In each case Spanish has dropped a consonant but still says two syllables. That is, "real" is said "reh-AHL." Now that I see the pattern, I'll be on the lookout for other Spanish words whose meaning might be sussed out by adding back a lost consonant between two vowels.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Southern Catholic Thing

This post links to Convert Journal

Not Seminary Ridge

Last month I found myself way in the back of the church a couple of minutes before Mass started. We typically arrive about 15 minutes early and sit near the front where I can see without glasses, so the back is a mysterious and alien place.

When I came in, the organist was playing the last notes of the prelude, then stopped. At this point, the whole church was dim, quiet, and packed. In front of me was the priest, a couple of deacons, eight or so altarboys, the censor and the crucifer, all close around the baptismal font, waiting.

Then the church bell rang 11 times. Within a few seconds of the last peal, the lights came up, and the small bell inside the nave was rung once. A second or so after that, the pipe organ let loose a huge belch of sound, the choir and congregation belted out the opening words of the entrance hymn, and the procession began to advance.

For the next few weeks I kept reflecting on that prepared waiting for the moment- it was so compelling in its dark, hushed stillness. It seemed familiar, but not from church...yet I had still imagined aspects of it before. Finally yesterday, or maybe this morning, I remembered- it's this:

"For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two oclock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armstead and Wilcox look grave yet it’s going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn’t need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time."- William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust

As Kylie said in Strictly Ballroom, "That was unexpected."

Photo from the vestibule of St Mary's, Greenville SC