Discovering Venezuelan Spanish

Venezuelan Flag

Venezuelan Flag, with new 8 stars, new shield… Blah, blah

As some of the most curious readers may know after reading the about page, I’m from Venezuela; I actually live there so I surely know at least something about idioms and regional variations (west-east becomes really different, and even in the west, the Andean region speaks at a slow pace, different from south-west states, with a fast pace and different slangs). We need to considerate geographic isolations for language to evolve, as it works on species.

So, I live in the east, where people talk fast and… Badly. Anyway the reason I’m writing this is because I found this article from Wikipedia: Venezuelan Spanish (don’t worry, it’s in english). It has a whole list of Venezuelan words for almost everything, and explanations about the dialects per se. As, for example, Venezuelans often shorten words, avoiding the sound of the letter “d” when in between vowels: Like helado (ice cream) changes, in pronunciation, to hela’o. It’s weird, but that’s common on almost every american spanish speaker country, even in the Canary islands and southern Spain. Obviously, many people don’t do that, as is commonly associated with a bad education.

I knew that, yet I didn’t know the enormous quantity of words Venezuelans use to refer to so many things! I’m going to write a little list of the most weird words people here use (Not me, as I didn’t even knew these word meant that here). So, here’s the list:

  • Bajarse de la mula = exp. To pay for something. To be demanded for money. To be robbed. Lit. “To get off the mule”.

    My comment: Yeah, I knew the meaning, but can’t avoid laughing while seeing both “To pay for something” and “To get off the mule” as the same thing. It’s just funny, who invented that?

  • Carajo(a) = n. A dude (profane). Lit. Crow’s nest.

    My comment: I didn’t even know it meant “a crow’s nest”, and again: who came up with that?

  • Chivo = n. The Boss, someone at a high position in an organization. Lit. Goat.

    My comment: So, my boos will be a goat? “Chivo” is “goat”, but WTF? “The boss”?!

    Example: “El Chivo que más mea” (The goat who pisses the most) = the most important person.

    My comment: …

  • Costilla = n. An affectionate way of a man to name his female partner. The term is a reference to the origin of Eve. Lit. Rib.

    My comment: How romantic…

  • Guayabo = n. To be romantically disillusioned. To have the Blues. Lit. Tree of the guava fruit.

    My comment: Again, who in hell would think of this? Guayabo? a tree? Like “He is Guayabo, leave him alone”? I sound exactly as stupid in spanish.

  • Jamón = n. A French kiss. Something very easy to do. A nice girl. Lit. Ham.

    My comment: no comment, but what if I don’t really like ham?

  • Marico = n. Commonly used as ‘dude’ between friends. ‘Marica‘ may also be used between girl friends (profane/pejorative). Lit. A gay man.

    My comment: so yeah, really tolerant community… (it’s not, actually).

  • Pavo, pava = adj. or n. Trendy or well dressed adolescent, kid, youngster. Lit. Turkey.

    My comment: tell me how is some adult tell some kid he’s a… Turkey?! (or between parent) “Oh, what a turkey you daughter is!”

  • Zanahoria = n. Someone who zealously takes care of his/her own health. A vegetarian. A person that behaves well, nerd. Straight, clean. adj. A boring, dull person. Lit. Carrot.

    My comment: Guess what? I’m a freaking carrot!

Finally, defining latin-american culture and respect for woman:

  • Teta = n. A source of guaranteed income. Lit. Female breast.

It feels strange to look at this list (the one from Wikipedia) and realize that… I didn’t know most of the words! Not the actual meaning but what were they used for. Spanish is a language widely used around the world, being spoken in more than half a continent and on Spain and who knows where else. But I can say, it differs a lot from regions. Even in my own country some east guy could visit the Andean regions and don’t understand a word, as most my family (from the Andean) say we talk too fast.

Image thanks to Wikimedia Commons.

Listening to unknown language music

iTunes Library with many different-language songs

My iTunes Library with japanese, english and french music

Great, I have made smart playlists on iTunes for song on Spanish, English, Japanese and French to have them a little apart. At first, let me tell you, if you don’t know, I speak Spanish as my native language, so Spanish is not, at all, an unknown language. Yet I find listening to music in Spanish very different from English songs, and even more from japanese.

Now, I understand english very well (at least that’s what people keeps telling me… Hey, I write here in English right?) so listening to english music is somehow like listening to spanish music. The thing is that English keeps being a foreign language that even has different roots; Spanish comes from latin, while English comes from Germanic. And even when several words are really similar from each language, most are not, and sentences structure is different, so listening to the songs, even when you understand them, is different, as “deciphering” English is different from deciphering Spanish (besides, I said I understand english well, but not completely, as spoken english is one thing and sung english is another).

But Japanese is something apart. I can understand, at least whole parts of an english songs; japanese songs are just incomprehensible to me. I watch anime and I could tell you a couple of words that they repeat a lot (others than arigato,and name titles like -sama, -san, -chan, and so on) but I just haven’t learned about anything else, like sentences structures (well, I know that no and ni mixes adjectives/adverbs with nouns…) but no, you know, you can’t understand a language with a word repository of 10 words maximum.

What I like of this? Not understanding makes your ears eager, like they need to figure out the words; at first separate them, or even separating syllables. So, while listening to japanese music, I kind of think clearer, and I don’t really know why, exactly.

Of course, anime openings are a vivid memory of childhood good memories, and maybe that have some effect on me. Or perhaps it doesn’t, and I’m just not thinking clear for this matter.

The thing is, that I want to encourage you to do so. Maybe not japanese music, as some people don’t like it. But perhaps you like more celtic music, french pop, indian music, I don’t know, just choose a weird language and look for its music.

Einstein’s quotes (I)

A little hobby of mine: looking for Einstein and other great minds’ quotes. I wish I knew where were they published, or where they come from… Now one that reminds me of Harry Potter series a little bit:

“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count. Everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.”

Why we don’t want to get off the bed

A person sleeping on a bed in a dark room, with light coming through the window

Some people are really proud of their skills to get out of bed really quickly, I can tell. Some of them don’t even realize they can, actually, don’t mind if they’re half-sleep and can get up, sit on a chair and drink coffee. So, of course, know they have to, as working adults, or job-seeking people. But even then, some people, like me, have always had a little trouble getting up. Even fully awake, just getting out of bed seems like a far option, or not even that.

Yesterday something weird happened to me that made me understand why we don’t want, or don’t have the impulse to get off bed. First, the day before I charged my iPhone at night ’till it reached 97% charge, I disconnected it and then went to bed. Yesterday I woke up and took my iPhone (still in bed, just trying to turn off the alarm) and realized it had 30% of battery remaining.

I know, weird, huh?. The thing is, I was just waking up of a dream, half Dr. Parnassus’ imaginarium, half Willy Wonka nightmare, and I was really confused. Then I figured it out. We feel confused waking up. We are waking up from a dream (even if we don’t remember it) to the real world, but body seems to travel faster than a tired mind, so your mind is thinking about the dream, while you are trying to think and solve “What the heck is going on?!”.

Even then, I got up, went to the bathroom. I cut myself with the razor blade in 5 different spots… but with only one shave, so now the WTF feeling or thought is greater, I went to dress up for school, with, yeah, some toilet paper so I could stop the bleeding. I couldn’t find my belt at the time, even when I thought I’d left it on the chair. “Now what?”. The thing is, when I finally realized (by my conscious, subconscious and unconscious) that, of course, I was awake, my dizziness disappeared and well, I felt awake.

I don’t really know much about sleeping cycles, just about the REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) that I think is supposed to be the deepest dream. Yet, I could figure out, that, other that actual sleeping, you get semi-conscious when in dizziness state, then you gain some kinetic energy and you eventually get up. And, as I think I state above, some people get up first, then get awake, then get the dizziness off.

I other words, the reason you don’t get up is that your dream was enough deep that you mind was fully “there” so now your body want to physically “think”, your mind still doesn’t work properly. In my Lines Of Thoughts article I explained that the dreams’ line is the most chaotic one, so that’s the point, your mind is there, so it doesn’t feels chaotic, then it comes here, where “everything is logical” and it gets confused. And then is when you ask for 5 more minutes.

Writing a story. Using both brains.

Lorem Ipsum screenshot

Didn't get any better image than a bunch of latin text... Figure it is some kind of story...

When you write a story you use your right brain when thinking about characters’ looks, personalities and so on. Also, when creating as the whole creating process is led by that side of the brain. But, is your left brain resting? Nope, not at all.

When you write, or say, create a story, as you use your right brain to create, you use your left brain to organize. The right brain is only spitting out words, ideas, colors, for that matter. The left brain is actually linking up all that information so that a story can be told. Why does it affect us? Well, as some people believe, to be mentally healthy (and by that, I mean, in shape, quick thinking…) you must train your brain. But doing that is normally training both brain separately, or just your left brain (as many people think it’s the important brain, which is not…). That is ok sometimes, but it’ll be a slow process; what you should do is train both brains at time. Why? Because separating brains will just cause the opposite: you will only focus on one of them, and so, the other will not function as well as it could.

So, create a story, make up 2 or 3 character, make one of them the main character, put them on a medieval or fantastic world, let one of them be intelligent, one athletic and the other mysterious. Let flow your imagination as you establish the facts, organize the ideas, the sub-stories. Try using a white board or a clip-board (more useful in these cases) so you can move around the ideas more “physically”.

Now, if you like to, write it down, and you’ll start using your right brain as you choose the words, and your left brain as you build the sentences. Or draw a comic book, using the right brain while drawing and the left while writing sentences that fit the drawing and maintain the story flowing. You can do anything to build and assemble your story, just make sure you do.

You can also train one brain only using this technique: takes characters and personalities from another story (yours or else’s) and build your story with them as a base. As a fanfiction or a manga doujinshi, it helps your left side more than your right, as you don’t have to create much, being the same characters, probably the same environment and a similar story. Yet you’ll still build a story from context and that’s enough training, at least to be called training.

Be a little creative with this. For example, take your camera/phone/rock-with-squirrel and start video recording your friends or strangers talking. When you have some content, start editing on your computer and put together the pieces for a crappy story, but on video!

As myself, I rather draw for my right brain, write and think logically for my left and then, at night (some nights…) write some story linking characters and events. I prefer time traveling so that the whole thing is actually linking events. That’s actually why I love the new series Touch… Anyway, also making an environment based on some past era could help you a little with history class. Or somewhere else…

I liked something that Jesulink (spanish blogger) wrote on his “Manga Workshop” (Taller de Manga) and is that, when you start writing a manga, and that applies for any other kind of story, you must choose either a topic you know wel, or a topic you’d like to know. As it, talking about seriously creating a story, for, say, publishing, and choosing a “want-to-know-about-that” topic, you’ll actually care about reading related writings all over the internet and elsewhere, because you not only want to read or have curiosity, but you have now the fictional obligation to do so.

So yeah, writing stories help a lot in every aspect, from training brains to learning about certain topics; the ones, you, as a curious person, will want to know about. So write, draw, or just think: create a story, and create many. You’ll surely find it even interesting.

Re-reading, re-watching; that’s not repeating

Glasses on an open book.

Let me tell you something, I am grateful to J.K. Rowling for letting me and the rest of children in the world to read Harry Potter series. I’m not writing a post to talk good about the series, but to talk about some activity interesting to practice once in a while. Repeating a fiction novel or fiction movie (yet, even a nonfiction would work almost as well).

I first watched Harry Potter when I was a child; don’t remember exactly the year, but I was as old a a one digit number (get it? ^_^). Right, since then I watched all the movies as they released and read all books as well. The thing is that it has been a while since I watched any movie or read any book of the series, so I figured out I could enjoy one of the films and let time pass (that was when I was kind of blind, check the post).

I ended up watching the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th movie and even one night I grabbed the 6th book and started whipping through the pages to relive the experience. I can say it was a great experience because I did enjoyed the films, not only because of the memory of watching something from my childhood that made me happy, but because I have grown up since then, I know have more knowledge about movies, plot holes, creating characters (just for fun…), and I could really check and rate the movies.

The sixth was the first I saw. I has a great direction for a teen film. And, guess it’s ok since J.K.R. wrote the book based on that: love, fun, friends. The only thing is that in book that starts a little later, in the movie is just starting when Harry is already kind-of in love with Ginny. Stories later. I loved the music of the 6th movie. Why? Just hear the songs, listen to them, you’ll see.

The 5th movie… I still don’t like it very much. The director (which is the same as the 6th, 7th and 8th…) is just not doing his job well. I didn’t like how sound mixed with scenes, how the scenes where put there. I definitely didn’t like the adaptation script. The book is long, I know, it’s tedious sometimes, but as everything was right, the timing too; in the movie they didn’t want to cut down the story so the just stretched it in a 138 minutes film.

So see? I know can relate to those findings and critics because I saw it again. I saw it as a 15 years old, not as a 1o year old, and believe me, it does make a difference.

In the end, I maybe wasted hours watching a movie for like, the 5th time, but what matters is that you can watch a movie again, years later, and equally enjoy it. I know, you know what’s coming next, and perhaps you remember every dialog, but yet, you’ll see things you missed before. I didn’t remember the minister of magic talking to Harry on the 3rd movie (It does on the book, but…) for example.

But books, you can re-read them too.

And not just Harry Potter books. I read a couple of days ago La mécanique du cœur (read it in spanish, didn’t like english translation of the title, put french title). It’s actually an amazing analogy of love and even friendships. The whole life of the character in a relationship and how it develops through, ’till it dies. I read it the first time… Last year? or a year before that. I enjoyed it just as well. Why? because, as I said, re-reading you look for new things. Seek and you shall find. 

Months ago I finished the first book of the Lord of The Rings series (by the way, got mad at the end…). It’s a long book, sometimes you even want to drop out and stop reading. I did, actually, left the book when I got 100 pages more, and months ago I got to read it again and finished it. Did I enjoyed it? As much as I enjoyed the time (which is not much, but enough to make it worth).

You see, reading books it great, reading fiction, I mean, by the meaning on turn on your imagination and let your mind flow. Now, re-reading a fiction makes you to, in first instance, recreate the first imaginary world you first created, now fed by new memories and experiences in your live that will change the “design” a bit, plus, in second instance, a second imaginary world, fed by the new findings you make on the re-read, and the base of your previous world, added to a new character, which is your conscious, that will play Sherlock Holmes in finding new details on the story, descriptions and character personality, so you enjoy the re-reading as much as the first time.

In a few word: read, read read, and after some years, look for old books, if something got your attention, re-read it. You’ll find it somehow interesting. Same for movies. If you buy DVDs (or Blu-Ray, whatever), look for the firsts and set your memory on; if you rather watch movies online, look for old titles, 5 years ago titles, I know something will draw your attention.

Photo by Ben Harding.

Interests, focus on unnecessary things

For those about to write - by Tojosan

For years I have always been focused on several interests. When I was a kid, for example, I was either collecting trading cards (like, Yu-Gi-Oh, Duel Masters and so on…), or playing video games.

By seasons my mind have organized those interests. And I say “my mind” as a third-party entity… (Just meaning my unconscious ¬¬). For those I can recall, drawing, playing Pokémon, reading Harry Potter, watching Harry Potter (season which came back a few days ago with my “near blind experience”), watching TV all day-long “as a hobby”, so to speak, coding (or learning to; I’m still on the basics), creating websites, blogging, among others, I can say everything have happened by seasons.

The first time I met HTML I was on 5th or 6th grade, and well, I’ve got this great idea for a site, a whole community and ok, you can say it: “what a fool…”. Anyway, I started reading a lot about HTML coding and servers and hosting and everything. To let you know how interested I was, in those months the only fully working computer was on the only room of the apartment with no air conditioner (and well, It’s a warm weather), so…

But after months, as I said, I quit, never built a thing and left the “project”. I forgot about it until a friend asked me if I could start a website (or something like that) and… actually I don’t remember what I answered, what matters is that I started reading again and began writing my first webpage, fully HTML-powered (that bad it was).

The web is up, no traffic, no visitors, and huge mistakes on design, SEO, writing (typos, cruel typos). I quit a month later. The thing was supposed to be what then I didn’t know to be called blog. Neither I knew I should have used PHP, or some platform like WordPress.

A guy with two Macs

I was somehow like this, very stressed. This pic: "28.09.2009 extreme programming" - by Markus Hametner

I created 2 websites after that, same story. Then, a real blog, read about PHP, understood the basics, chose to use WordPress, created a blog about Mac. Mistakes? Using my name too much (I “think” I do the same here but whatever…), the topic (I just got a Mac / the topic is full of other really famous blogs / I wasn’t quite an expert) and most importantly, a single person can’t handle fill categories of Mac Apps, iPhone Apps, reports about new updates and everything, and post with some frequency. I believed I was choosing right by shutting it down. Now I understand I just did it by nature, kind of (Nevertheless I don’t regret freeing my self of that).

And that’s the point of this article. People usually do quit. I mean, obviously not in the same way, nor with the same frequency, but they do. People learn from being kids that if you don’t want, don’t feel a thing for something, quit. If you can’t (like school), just complain about it and / or do it badly.

And, that’s not good. Yet it is how things work around here…

So, establishing some goals, first I’m still writing, keeping up with the blog and almost getting to the hundred post. For me that’s quite an achievement, even if the bloggers around think it’s not. Secondly, I’m cutting interests. Sounds bad, ugly or just weird, so let me explain.

How does “cutting interests” works? (And by the way, What the **** is that?)

Cutting interests is a metaphor for trying to pass over some interests that for some reason you don’t see yourself in more than on others. Yes, you’re interested in something you should pursue that thing. Yet, it is different when you feel you’re interested in many things (like me, photography, drawing, blogging, tweeting, reading, watching movies, listening to good music, studying, …). And no, I don’t see studying as an obligation as many. If so it’s a “life obligation”, life asks you to study so you can be someone, and know about general things at first, and more specifics then. Let’s try an analogy:

You know what’s an RPG? (Look for it on wikipedia), well, if your life is an RPG, a game in which usually your goal is some huge mission and getting a higher level, then let’s say the huge mission here is defined by you, not the game, and that, for getting that mission done you must get a higher level.

In a second instance, you’re getting older. If you see that as the game turning up the difficult level, then becoming better and better (leveling) becomes harder with every year, so, for example, graduating from highschool is easy (or well, normal) at some age (different in each region, mostly 18, 17, or so). What if you fail to graduate? You don’t go to college (from which you would be graduating at age 22, or so; first years). What now? That’s the problem, “now” becomes harder. you stayed on that level and getting higher scores will be even harder now, not only because you are not a higher level (that could use other skills), but you’re getting older, and by not going to school your learning rate is substantially lower.

So, the RPG analogy would apply for several other moments in life. So by now, the number-one thing every student should have for interest is to keep studying, getting a higher level while you can. Study the things you like, of course, because you have other interests, but keep it clear
that you don’t pretend to fail.

Getting back to the “cutting interests” thing. It’s not always about forgetting an interest (it’s not even forgetting about it, just keep in on second or third instance), sometimes it’s about reorganizing your interests or activities.

I like to see it as a timeline, keeping “studying” on top (not to always study, just setting importance), and have other 3, maybe 4 lines of interests, or activities, I should pursue that day/week. Most of the time I include blogging, networking, reading, social engagement (trying to solve some troubles there…), and in certain occasions drawing and some “productive thing” like thinking of an idea for a story, which I do kind of constantly, not only thinking of new, but fixing previous ideas.

Reorganizing your priorities is good, it reminds you of what they are. Organizing your interests is something different, as with it you manage your day, or not to say day, your time. You’re constantly aware of what you should pursue, develop in your head. If your interests are food and traveling, go on, read travel blog, set a flight to the next destination and start stumbling for new recipes; leave, as you mat, other interests aside, for a while, while you enjoy the “travel & food” interests. Enjoy life, learn to enjoy life. but hey, what do you do with your interest?

Photo by Tojosan.