It’s been too long since my last “listicle”, or top 10 list. Here is a new one, on the top 10 books on my bookshelf. Enjoy, and pass it on.
Here for your listicle pleasure are my favorite quotations from Spanish literature, in the broadest sense, that illustrate some of the most interesting facets of the language. The quotations date from the early 13th century to 2011, and come from works of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. Sources range from best-sellers (Don Quijote and El tiempo entre costuras) to Nobel-prize winning literature to academic tomes. The facets illustrated include aspects of syntax, word structure, pronunciation, and vocabulary, as well as language history and dialectology.
The wait is over — here is my “listicle” (slide presentation) that unravels the top 10 mysteries of Spanish verbs. Why is hay always singular? Why are there so many more irregulars in the preterite past tense than the imperfect? Why do positive and negative commands have different pronoun rules? The answers lie in the history of Spanish.
¡Próspero Año Nuevo!
My previous post presented the Top 10 reasons why Spanish is special. This post presents its opposite: the Top 10 reasons why Spanish isn’t special. Like the previous Top 10 list, it includes examples from Spanish grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and pronunciation.
This Top 10 list was constructed with native speakers of English in mind. It describes core aspects of Spanish that may seem peculiar, but turn out to be normal when considered in a broader linguistic context. Some of these are truly surprising! The inscrutable ‘personal a‘, for example, turns out to be a prime example of a linguistic phenomenon known as Differential Object Marking, while the use of positive expressions like en absoluto (‘absolutely’) with a negative meaning (‘absolutely not’), illustrates a well-known historical process called Jespersen’s Cycle.
To me, the two lists are equally interesting. I love both the special features of Spanish and its reflection of broader cross-linguistic tendencies. I hope you do, too.
Today’s post is the first of several I plan to make in the next few weeks to summarize the broad linguistic themes that emerged as I wrote my book. It is a follow-up on a post I did some months ago, “What makes Spanish unique”. This post is somewhat more general, and, I hope, more fun because it’s a slideshow.