Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I'm With Stupid

San Geraldo is trying, without much success, to remember the Spanish names for silverware.

Fork is tenedor. Knife is cuchillo. Spoon is cuchara.

Some time last week, His Saintliness said he was frustrated with how difficult it was for him to remember those three simple words.

I said that I had had the same problem. So, I found a little trick. "A fork has tines and that helped me remember tenedor (ten is similar to tyne).

"For cuchillo, I simply pictured two vertical knives in place of the two "els" in the word.

OUR GERMAN CARVING SET FROM SAN GERALDO'S FAMILY.
TOP: TENEDOR; BOTTOM: CUCHILLO.
(DON'T ASK ME HOW TO SAY IT IN GERMAN, BUT DO CLICK FOR A CLOSER LOOK.)

I continued, "The only word left was cuchara, which meant that was a spoon."

CUCHARA (BY DEFAULT).

San Geraldo loved my method and immediately put it into practice. But, Monday, while we walked home from an appointment, he told me he still finds himself mixing up the words.

"OK," he began, "Cuchillo is fork. I think of the two 'els' as the tines of a fork. Right?"

"No," I responded, "cuchillo is knife. You think of the two 'els' as two knives. Tenedor is fork because 'ten' is similar to 'tine'."

As we walked he continued to muddle the memory aids. And he kept repeating the incorrect versions to show me how he was confusing them.

I finally told him it would probably help if he stopped repeating them incorrectly, "over and over and over again." Maybe he should consider saying them aloud the correct way.

He tried to explain to me why that was so difficult for him to do now, finally saying, "Well, you know how I am."

I said, "Yeah. Pig-headed..." He then tried translating that into Spanish. (Don't ask.)

I JUST CAME UPON THE SOLUTION:
A TENEDOR IS WHAT WE USED FOR EATING MONDAY'S TARTA DE CHOCOLATE!

Along the way, we decided to stop and say "hi" to Tynan. San Geraldo, of course, immediately told him about our conversation.

Tynan facetiously told San Geraldo, "Oh, you're not pig-headed. You're just stubborn."

San Geraldo snort-laughed, "Well! I'm going home."

We said our good-byes and, as we walked off, San Geraldo laughed again and said, "I can't believe Tynan called me 'stupid'."

I said, "He didn't call you stupid. He said you were stubborn."

"He did not! He said stupid," he argued... stubbornly.

So, tolerantly and in my version of a Chesterfield accent, I explained, "He said stew-buhn."

"Oh! That makes sense."

26 comments:

  1. Sorry, but that story is high-larious.
    I love that St. Geraldo continued to repeat the incorrect pronunciations rather than the correct.
    Sounds like me ... and Carlos.

    PS "tine" for tenador? Brilliant. I always get that confused myself because I don't know why knife and spoon sound so similar in Spanish but fork is a whole 'nother word!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob:
      As you know from your years with Carlos, there WILL be more. I agree with you about the oddly similar knife and spoon, and entirely different fork. I'm sure it's all because of the original Latin... but I don't feel like looking it up.

      Delete
  2. I am [used to be!] fluent in Spanish, and I found the words for silverware easy to trip over. I would suggest that San Geraldo think of a cockroach (cucaracha) crawling over the spoon (cuchara), but that would be disgusting and could lead to some very odd mistakes ... Maybe think of a cook holding a large spoon?
    Are you familiar with the Pet Shop Boys' song, "I'm with stupid"?

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    Replies
    1. Michael:
      Oh, I don't think I'll cucaracha to the confusion! And, oh how I wish I knew about that Pet Shop Boys song! I definitely would have included it.

      Delete
  3. What great conversations you two have! I can see where those Spanish names for silverware could be very confusing. I took German, and could not understand why the fork was feminine, the knife was masculine, and the spoon was neuter. Totally took me out of the German lesson while I was imagining the fork and the knife going out together - but a combination fork/knife really doesn't look like a spoon - and children are usually masculine or feminine, not neuter. I quit German soon after that.

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    Replies
    1. Jo:
      In Spanish fork is feminine (but doesn't have a traditional feminine ending), knife is masculine, and spoon is feminine! I'd prefer a neutered spoon.

      Delete
    2. I don't want to correct you all the time Mitchell but I don't want you to compound any mistakes with His Holiness, fork is masculine in Spanish! Animo tronco! poco a poco!

      Delete
    3. ninja:
      Correct away. Sadly, I knew that (once or twice). But don't worry about San Geraldo. I double-check anything I tell HIM... and I try not to tell him too much. He's got class three days a week and I'm in no position to teach Spanish!

      Delete
  4. Sometimes I think you two would make a great Abbot and Costello team. (That's said with love, you know)

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    Replies
    1. Sharon:
      Well, you're not the first one to tell us that...

      Delete
  5. Well, that is just the best story of the day, Mitchell. I was chuckling out loud, here in the Modern Language Help Center (where there are usually no Modern Language students coming for help... even though they also surely don't remember tenedor, cuchillo, and cuchara :) ).

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  6. Judy:
    "We" had a bit of trouble with English today, too. So, there's always more to come!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh my! Let's put it this way Mitchell, I am so happy I am not in a situation where the learning of another language is necessary. I am afraid that I can relate very much to what San Geraldo is going through!!
    That cake looks good!

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    Replies
    1. Jim:
      Cake as we know it is not a tradition here, so we tend to be disappointed when we splurge on a piece. We weren't disappointed this time! As for San Geraldo he's doing amazingly well and actually speaking in full sentences (creatively)... oh, in Spanish, too!

      Delete
  8. I think learning another language has to be one of the hardest things to do as an adult, when we're long past the stage where our brains are sponges. I applaud San Geraldo for sticking with it.

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    Replies
    1. Stephen:
      I love it, but, you're right that it's not easy as an adult. I still learn like a child (by repeating what I hear), which helps in this case. San Geraldo is a much more "academic" learner, which in this case I think makes it much more challenging for him. But he's really progressing.

      Delete
  9. That was a good laugh to start the day. Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Andrew:
      So glad. And I'm sure there'll be more.

      Delete
  10. For once I can say that French is easier. At least where flatware is concerned.

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    Replies
    1. Walt the Fourth:
      I'll have to study up. My 4th- and 5th-grade French is coming back to me (what little there was) because the owner of the cafe downstairs are French.

      Delete
  11. Funny post!!
    Love that carving set.
    French: couteau
    German: Messer
    English: knife

    Some people have no talent for linguistic....

    Alors, couteau, fourchette, cuillere!!!
    Good luck!!
    :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ticklebear:
      Oh, but they have so many other talents...

      Delete
  12. Me thinks someone's ears need de-waxing on the inside that is!!!

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  13. hohoho
    I laughed at this one.
    I can't seem to wrap my(nordic) tongue around the Spanish language; I emphasize with you fellow.

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    Replies
    1. Spo:
      Maybe that's San Geraldo's problem. Half his tongue is Nordic... But that wouldn't explain why he can't wrap his tongue around the Norwegian language either.

      Delete

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