Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Cross-cultural communication and a coatimundi

PARADISE VILLAGE MARINA, Nayarit, Mexico - We were all sitting in Ernesto's restaurant in downtown Puerto Vallarta when a cousin to this animal skittered across the roof, prompting a conversation about language with our Mexican amigo Jesse.

In English, this rodent-like critter is a coatimundi, but in Spanish a mapache, or something very close to that.
We walked through the whole gamut of animal names: gatto/cat, perro/dog, elephante, elephant.
Well, at least we have a few cognates.
We also laughed at the nickname Dustin has picked up: Polvo. Me? I'm Miguelito to most of the staff at the yacht club (Little Mikey).
The fun we had - and continue to have - reminds me of how language learning can be fun and doesn't have to be the terrors we faced in high school and even college when our French teachers would ask us a question or worse - go to the blackboard to write something for the whole class to read.
The damned accent marks have never made much sense to me.
In high school - and this will show up in The Class of '66 - we had pretty poor instruction in foreign languages, some of it almost academic malpractice.
But that's for another day and another posting for the book I should be writing instead of doing this blog.
But, like the fun of the language, this blog is fun to post everyday.
Oh, and Polvo? It means 'dust' in Spanish.
I'll take Miguelito, but Polvo is kind of cute.


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