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Calpe … la chasse. 18th of February, 2007 POST·MERIDIEM 02:15

Impressions of Spain, or more exactly of the Costa Blanca;

  1. The Dorfjugend have mullets.
  2. The weather is perfect. Of course, the locals find it too cold, and there are no other tourists here, so one ends up hanging around with the Dorfjugend and getting into fights, of all things. I have a Gorbachov-style bruise across my forehead, now. Not that I can remember the details—there was drink involved—but what the fuсk?! I am not normally a violent person, so I blame the Dorfjugend.
  3. The signage is terrible. Like, two metres before a turn you’ll get a sign saying it’s where you want to go, so you’ll miss it. And other annoyances. Deutschland, Deutschland, über alles ...
  4. Guadalest—a small village and Moorish castle in the back-country behind Calpe—is beautiful, the village, the views, the whole thing. I suspect visiting it in February was exactly the right thing to do, since there weren’t that many people.
  5. If one shaves one’s head and acquires a complete English English accent, far too many diphthongs and all, one will have trouble convincing people that one is from Antwerp. (This was a barman here.)
  6. Calpe is an excellent place to practice one’s German.
  7. To my surprise, while my Spanish is terrible, I can still communicate relatively effectively with it. I blame resolutely monolingual locals.
  8. The word overdevelopment could have been coined for this place.

Word of the day: die Jagd is German for “hunt;” la caza is the Spanish.

Last comment from Dave on the 19th of February at 15:31
That’s not an excuse to switch to port wine, by the way :P

[Two older comments for this entry.]

’ne Semmel, bitte … The Star’s Tennis Balls … El laberinto del fauno 10th of February, 2007 POST·MERIDIEM 07:29

An awesome map here, detailing what various regions of the German-speaking world call various small pieces of bread. I didn’t realise that they pretty much don’t say ‚Schrippe‘ anywhere else—it is fascinating (well, to me :-) as you learn a language what ends up being a regionalism and what doesn’t, and what is perceived in some areas to be dying out and what isn’t.

Buy The Stars’ Tennis Balls at Amazon.co.uk.

The Stars’ Tennis Balls, book,  Stephen Fry, 2000: One of the annoyances to growing older and learning more things is that you then become more able to pick holes in the work of people you previously thought were, without question, accurate and exact and generally great. Two such instances from this—diverting, good—novel. From the text:

The following afternoon Gunther paid a visit to the Vier Jahreszeiten and with a ta-da of triumph, produced from his jacket a gleaming German passport. Ned took it greedily, but before he had so much as turned the first page to look at his photograph, he had betrayed his ignorance once more.
   ‘
Germany? But it doesn’t say which one …’

Now, a reasonably important part of the story is that at this point Ned was fluent in German, and part of being fluent in German was and is knowing that the official name of West Germany, in German, was ‚Bundesrepublik Deutschland‘—something which also appears on the front of the post-reunification passport, since re-unification involved the states of the DDR joining the BRD.

Another extract:

   ‘See? www.ihatecotter.co.au. Here’s the welcome page. “Welcome to my parlour.” That’s Cotter in the centre of this web, I’ve made him look like a spider. …’

Any fule no that the Australian commercial subdomain is .com.au, not .co.au; I suppose that this mistake made it into the published book is an indication of the fracturing of wider culture in England at least, such that they didn’t think it worthwhile to have someone with the requisite level of technical skill proof-read it.

And, not a criticism; it’s not a surprise that the sentence from which the title comes harks back to the Blackadder ‘Like private parts to the Gods are we; they play with us for their sport!’ when the book was written by an occasional Blackadder actor.

Buy El laberinto del fauno at Amazon.co.uk.

El laberinto del fauno,  film, 2006, director Guillermo del Toro, Spanish with English subtitles. Set in the Spanish back-country in 1944, the film has the feel of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe  with the difference that the adults are concurrently doing interesting things while the fantasy is taking place. A cadre of Republicans is holding out, five years after the end of the civil war, and a captain of the Guardia Civil  is sent with his men to the area to root them out. The captain brings along his wife and step-daughter Ofelia, and the story is told from the perspective of the latter.

The girl arrives at the mill (remember, el molino  isn’t just a windmill, tout comme « le moulin »)  where the Guardia is based, accompanying her mother who’s in the late stages of pregnancy. As they settle in, she follows some fairies she comes across to a well in some Roman or Phonecian ruins, where she encounters a faun—a horrifically ugly faun—who, interestingly, uses vos with her (voseo reverencial,  no habla [kaste'ʃano]) with her. The fantasy part of the story develops from there, while the adults proceed in a not-amazingly-unsurprising way.

The story and the production is very unsympathetic to the Franquistas, in particular to the captain, something which is fair enough—it’s hardly a secret that there was no shortage of arseholes involved on Franco’s side of the civil war. It’s also notably sympathetic to the Republican guerillas, something I’m not as happy with—they’re fighting on hopelessly, five years after the war has been lost, bringing death and destruction to their loved ones, for the opportunity to be a client state of Stalin’s Soviet Union! I can think of few things stupider, and I’m really not interested in the romanticism of it, because, remember, client state of Stalin’s Soviet Union, just like East Germany, Hungary, Romania, all places that sucked—very hard to say that it could have turned out better than it did under Franco.

The film’s atmospherically shot, the Spanish is very Spanish and good exercise for one’s listening comprehension—the /o/ of mano is almost dropped, for example—I enjoyed it lots, catch it if you get the chance.

Word of the day: In Austria, das Sackerl is German for ‘plastic bag’; in Germany, the word is die Tüte.

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 14th of February at 17:05
Hah, I’ve a lot of admiration for someone with both the curiosity and stomach to watch Franquista propaganda on their own time all these years later.

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