Friday, 31 December 2010

the perils of not having a Spanish keyboard - by Theo

Unlike French computer keyboards, Spanish ones are basically the same as English ones, which is generally helpful. However, when writing in Spanish, our English Mac Book is deficient in two important ways.

Spanish has two special characters. The first, the tilde, is an accent. While it doesn't change the sound of the vowel it marks which syllable should be stressed in words that don't follow the usual rules of pronunciation. As a non-native speaker I find this extremely helpful; pronunciation (even in English) has never been my strong suit. So, if it's just to do with how you speak Spanish, should it matter whether you include the tilde in written Spanish? Often it doesn't, but sometimes the tilde is the only indication of a change of tense. For example, hable means "he speaks" while hablé means "I spoke", hablará means "he will speak" while hablara means "he spoke (subjunctive)". So, out of context, the lack of a tilde can change the meaning. (Compare this to the English verb "read", which looks the same in both present and past forms, but is pronounced differently in each case.)

However it's the second Spanish special character that really causes problems. It's the 'ñ', pronounced n-ye, and often found with its own separate listing in Spanish dictionaries. As such using an 'n' instead of an 'ñ', a completely different letter, changes the meaning of the word entirely. This is particularly a problem around New Year when wishing Spanish friends a Happy New Year electronically; año means "year" while ano means "anus". Much copying and pasting individual 'ñ's from the El Pais website is therefore required.

So, Happy Anus Everyone!!

Lots of love and thanks for reading - we wish you love, peace and happiness for 2011!

Theo, Kate & Rosie x

1 comment:

  1. Hee, Happy Anus to you too!

    I always thought the tilde was the name for the mark over the ñ, and the other one (as in á) was an acute accent.