Monday, June 11, 2018


Recently I was in a discussion on workarounds, i.e. how to say what you mean in Spanish if you don't know the right words. For example, if I couldn't think of a Spanish counterpart to "fast," I'd say "velocidadamente," "no despacio", stuff like that. But part of my problem was thinking "fast." It's from the Germanic side of English, which doesn't have much in common with any Spanish words. On the other hand, ever since the Norman Conquest in 1066, English has had thousands of French words that often have a sibling or cousin in Spanish.
So for "fast," I should look for related French-English that might suggest a Spanish word. Quick? No. Speedy? No. Swift? No, all pre-French. Rapid? Rapido sounds good, yes, that works. This approach doesn't work every time, but it gets close often enough for me to stick with it.
Some examples that have worked for me, some spot on, others close enough on the fly:
height> altitude> altitud
wind> breeze> brisa
strength> force> fuerza
might> potency> potencia
smell, scent> aroma> aroma
easy> facile> facil
hard> difficult> dificil
hard> durable> durable, or duradero.
fear, fright> terror> terror
get> obtain> obtener
horse> cavalry> cavalo? Close, caballo.
likely> probably> probablemente
unbelievable> incredible> increible
friendly> amiable> amable
winner> victor> victor? Well, no. But the person I spoke to understood, and suggested ganador or vencedor.
sturdy> stable> stable? Close, estable.
stiff> rigid> rigido
sky> celestial> celesta? Close: celeste and celestial are adjectives. Cielo's the noun.
speed> velocity> velocidad
skill> ability> abilidad? Close, habilidad.
tired, weary> fatigued> fatigado.
weak> debilitated> debil.

Monday, June 4, 2018


My Neighbor the Tailor is roofing his house. I don't say re-roofing because this will be the first time the house will have tiles. Like our house, It's about 40 years old. Instead of a tiled roof, it has had corrugated fiber-cement boards that come painted in a terracotta color. They have about a 30-year lifespan if they are exposed to the weather. Here's a similar roof across the street:

Eventually they will leak and need to be covered or replaced. The direct sun and thin air is tough on them. It's very common here to build a nice house, and postpone the rooftile expense until the deck is so worn it needs protection. On my neighbor's house I'd say they replaced 25% of the deck as it was too beat-up by the elements to serve as a reliable substrate. I can hear the workers cutting out old deck right now.

Here's some of the new roof:

Viewed fullsize you can see each tile is an s-tile, i.e. each tile curves like an s in section. Its makes for a very clean appearance.

This is a roof on our house, built with traditional tiles. There are drain tiles and cover tiles, they don't install as easily as the more modern s-tiles, but I like the irregular presentation and glazing variations. Plus the draintiles aren't glazed, which adds some interest.

Tremors have caused some of the tiles to shift (most of them are friction-fit); those I can safely reach I've pushed back in place and sometimes applied some silicone to keep them there.

Here's the underside of our roof, semi-modern with small fiber-cement boards and rough lumber. A lot of light leaks in through the roof, but water doesn't. A full-on trad roof has no decking and a lot more wood, very labor-intensive. Plenty of older buildings have that, along with wattle-and-daub walls. Oddly enough, there's one a couple of doors down from me, it's the oldest structure in what's a relatively-new neighborhood. The wattle shows in places, but it's not bad enough yet to fix.

Even today this kind of semi-dimensional lumber is readily available along with bamboo. About a mile away there's a lumberyard that sells both.

The nicest trad roofs are heavy timber construction with cathedral ceilings. They tend to be small-span with no bottom chords. One of the additions to our house is like that:

Ours is the only heavy-timber roof I've seen with skylights. BTW, these aren't factory-made units, but panes of tempered glass built into the roof. Yep: no leaks.

BTW: τέκτων, tekton, Greek. A builder, especially a carpenter. Tectum, roof, Latin. Tetto, Italian. Toit, French. Techo, Spanish.