Spanishing in Valladolid – Week 4 ASPECTO

Metal type mounted on a letterpress

I wonder if the story of the extra letter is true.

Once upon a time there was a group of men who owned printing presses, all opportunists of sorts. I would refer to them as capitalists today but capitalism as a concept evolved 300 years after the printing press in Europe.

Anyway the story goes that printing was charged by the letter. Let’s say, if it cost 1 cent to print a letter, the word “happy” will cost 5 cents. So these men launched a scheme to add extra letters to words justifying the emphasis of such letters…like how advertisers concoct new slang words…and of course charge more for printing. Sounds possible?

Well this week I am more convinced that there is some truth in that story. Did I say my Spanish vocabulary has expanded poco a poco? As I write more words in Spanish, it occurred to me that many words are similar to English except they don’t use extra letters and still mean and sound the same. For example :-
character (9) > carácter (8)
examination (11) > examen (6)
official (8) > oficial (7)
profession (10) > profesión (9)
professor (9) > profesor (8)

Only question in that conspiracy theory of the printing press is whether Spanish words are derived from English or the other way around. I did dig into some history about the origin of these two languages and gave up around the time of the death of two literature giants – Cervantes in Spain and Shakespeare in England who departed one day apart from each other in 1616. It’s probably from that time that the languages borrowed words from translated text and cultural exchanges that each evolved into what we have today.

Wow! did I really go through all that just to figure out the some Spanish words that I know in English are simply spelt simply .. oh what I am writing?


Now you understand it’s been another confusing week. But my dear profesor tried his best to make learning more fun. Such as putting a hunk on screen and make us describe him using Spanish words of course. Certainly set the class giggling.


valladolid-zorillavalladolid-calderonAnd it’s been an interesting week because of Seminci, Valladolid International Film Festival. Managed to watch two movies last minute in surprisingly well-preserved ornate theatres – a Japanese film about a 3-generation family in Tokyo and an Israeli love story which attracted a small protest outside the theatre against the never-ending tiff over the occupation of the holy land.



The weather has been wonderful too despite being end October. Walked to the old town from campus almost every day checking out new places and becoming more familiar with this intriguing little city.

Now I’m ready for the long weekend. Tengas un buen fin se semana.



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