Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The difference between Spanish and English

My daughters have been using the verb form "to fart" incorrectly in Spanish. This, despite the fact, that I’ve corrected them approximately a hundred, zillion times.

"I made a fart" they say while giggling.

"You don't make farts," I answer ," While in English you will merely fart, in Spanish you throw the farts, like you would throw a ball or a toy across a room. In order to make sense the Spanish verb ‘to fart’ requires a prepositional complement before it; it’s a more complicated grammatical structure, but also simpler in many ways. When you think about it, girls, farting, is an act of defiance in Spanish, both literally and figuratively.”

"I threw a fart" they answer. (The literal translation of ¡Me tirĂ© un pedo!)

"Perfect. That’s it exactly! You THREW a fart" I respond, satisfied with their finally seeming to understand the Spanish verb structure.  Turning around at the people behind us in grocery line, I beam with pride, though by the look on their faces I’d say most folks don’t appreciate how much work it is to raise polyglots. 

Maia kept making funny faces. PS We eat a lot of beans.



  1. OMG, your piece about “fart” reminds me of when I speak Cantonese!

    My first language was Cantonese (and English was my second language). It seems that English has more words than most languages. Similar to your explanation of how “fart” is used in Spanish, many English adjectives have similar meaning in Chinese but are still different and only able to be used in certain instances. One would think that all adjectives are used to describe things; however, in many languages, it’s not that simple. And as fluent as I claim myself to be in speaking Cantonese, I sometimes find myself confused and just translate literally in my head what is in English but in Chinese, it makes no sense whatsoever. Grammatical concepts, rigid tenses, blah, blah, blah... All in all, I find myself speaking Chinglish (yes, I do) to get by when I encounter a bit of “language brain fart!” And folks who know me while conversing in my native tongue know what I am trying to conveying and give me a pass!

    Thanks, Patricia!

  2. That is funny, because as hard core as I attempt to be with the girls in speaking one language, and one language only - I often find myself mixing, two and even three languages. Sometimes it's the best way to express ourselves! Thank you.