Bad Spanish – Guilty conscience edition

I feel sheepish about writing this blog post — hence the “guilty conscience” — since the perpetrator this time around is a most worthy organization: SOMOS Community Care, a network of community-based health medical providers in New York City who serve Medicaid recipients, many of whom are Spanish speakers.

I saw this promotion for SOMOS on a window on the north side of East 42nd street in Manhattan, just down the block from Grand Central Station:

The error is the unneeded accent mark on the last word of this promotion, which should have been just plain ti. People often put an accent mark on ti because the similar word (as in para mí) has one. But that mark distinguishes the pronoun ‘me’ from the possessive adjective mi ‘my.’ It’s akin to the accent marks on ‘yes’ (versus unaccented si ‘if’), ‘you’ (vs. tu ‘your’), más ‘more’ (vs. mas ‘but’), and a number of other word pairs. in contrast, Spanish only has one word ti, so there’s no need for an accent mark.

I am totally at a loss to understand the top line of this promotion: The inside’s. I don’t even know if it’s part of the SOMOS promotion. But it reminds me of an adage I’ve come up with: accent mark mistakes in Spanish are like apostrophe marks in English. They’re ubiquitous, and make a bad impression.

SOMOS’s app, MiSOMOS, includes a terrific set of “Dr. Del Barrio” videos that explain annual checkups, diabetes, prostate cancer, and other important topics. The text in the sample video I watched (“Ver a tu doctor”) also has a few accent mark mistakes, as does the text below the video. I suggest that the good people at SOMOS enlist a Spanish teacher, or someone else familiar with this aspect of Spanish spelling, to review their content. I’d be happy to volunteer.

4 thoughts on “Bad Spanish – Guilty conscience edition

      1. jhochberg Post author

        Pero si te importa la ortografía, también debes emplear los signos de exclamación invertidos, así:

        ¡Qué va!
        ¡no se puede!

        Reply

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