The Zen of Travel

Cartoon of The Zen of Travel

Turismo is a concept so young that a century ago only the wealthy did it. And two centuries ago, nobody did. If you left “home” for anything, it was about mercantilism, conquest, or pilgrimage, and it was invariably dangerous. But nowadays, since so many of us do it, and since it has quickly become global, a vocabulary has quickly grown […]

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10 Tips for Learning Spanish

Learning Spanish can be a great asset for traveling in Latin America. Studying in Guatemala can open a door to the incredible cultural richness of Guatemala and to new Spanish-speaking friends. At the same time, learning Spanish can be daunting, especially in the beginning when you don’t know what to expect. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

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The Zen of Caber and Cupo

The word room was in our first-grade spellers. So why are we forever mistranslating this word? I have discussed in a previous column “smurfy” Spanish verbs. Well, room is a smurfy English noun, so if you think our language is never smurfy, get over it. Room, when you think about it, can be abstract or concrete. The former is usually […]

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The Zen of Cuando and Cuanto

Cuándo and cuánto are not individually zenny, but they form a zen gestalt that can not only potentially confuse our minds, but also our speech organs. Folks in Readerland who know phonetics might note that their spellings are even closer than they appear: they differ by one letter, and barely that. The d and t are — don’t slap this […]

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The Zen of The “ImpSub”

by Dwight Wayne Coop

The “Impsub” is not a subsurface vessel manned by cheeky cherubs, but a tense separating men scholars from boys. I would know, since it long confined me among the latter; I still regress on occasion. The topic must be approached inductively and deductively. If you have been out of college long enough to forget what these are, a refresher (in […]

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The Zen of Pegar and Pegársele

I never have understood the appeal of the Smurfs. I once supposed their dialogue was a preschool guessing game. “OK, Joey, what does the third word in ‘The smurfs smurfed all the smurfs to the smurf’ mean?” The smurfiest Spanish verb may be pegar. A classical root is missing, and only Portuguese and Catalonian have even semi-cognates for it. So […]

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How well do you know Chapín Spanish?

(Ser) Pura lata:

I certainly didn’t expect to get a free lesson of what I call Chapiñol, it is maybe 50 percent Spanish and 50 percent Chapinismos. His name was Miguel and he started throwing phrases like: tengo un gran clavo or me echan el muerto. I simply replied yes and/or no, but in truth I had no idea what he was talking about, “I have a big nail” What ???

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Google Translate to add native Central American languages

Google’s fast-growing online translation service will now be able to translate text into and out of Maya and Nahuatl, which are Central American languages that pre-date Spanish. According to the Economic Times, “Nahuatl is mostly spoken in southern Mexico and northern Central America, while Maya is spoken across Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Guatemala and Belize.” The newspaper also says that the […]

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