Inglés Esencial 1

Valparaíso, Chile photo by Antonio Ljubetic

Valparaíso photo by Antonio Ljubetic

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law are planning a trip to Europe and have asked me to teach them “a few simple English phrases” to get by. I started writing Inglés Esencial yesterday with a short post on Facebook. I continued today with another, and realized that there might be other Spanish speakers out there who could benefit from these very simple posts. We’ll see where they take us.

Inglés Esencial 1

Excuse me. (Disculpe; perdón) [exkyuz mi]

Is there a bathroom? (¿Hay un baño?) [iz ther e bathrum?]

Where is the bathroom?  (¿Dónde está el baño?) [ouer iz thi bathrum?)

1 [wan] one

2 [tu] two

3 [thri] three

4 [for] four

5 [faiv] (five)

6 [siks] (six)

7 seven

8 [eit] eight

9 [nain] nine

10 ten

Diccionario de pronunciación: http://www.howjsay.com/

Diccionario: http://www.wordreference.com/

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He is raised up by what he buckles under: Orange Drums, Tyrone, 1966 by Seamus Heaney

One of my favorite poems.

Orange Drums, Tyrone, 1966
Seamus Heaney

The lambeg balloons at his belly, weighs
Him back on his haunches, lodging thunder
Grossly there between his chin and his knees.
He is raised up by what he buckles under.

Each arm extended by a seasoned rod,
He parades behind it. And though the drummers
Are granted passage through the nodding crowd
It is the drums preside, like giant tumours.

To every cocked ear, expert in its greed,
His battered signature subscribes ‘No Pope’.
The pigskin’s scourged until his knuckles bleed.
The air is pounding like a stethoscope.

 

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We’re not fighting! ¡No estamos peleando!

(Abajo la versión en Español)

“¡No estamos peleando!”

This was tío Mario’s refrain last Thursday night at Diego Pizza in Viña. I was sitting at the edge of the vortex of voices arguing passionately about the quality and affordability of education in Chile and many other subjects. Mario’s repeated reminder to me that night that Chileans have strong opinions and like to express them reminded me of many other occasions on which I have been assured by my gracious hosts that it is not inappropriate or rude to yell across the table, for example, that your uncle couldn’t be more wrong about the quality of lab equipment at one of Chile’s most prestigious engineering schools in comparison to lab equipment available at some more affordable U.S. universities.

I am often lost as the voices and subjects overlap and discussion escalates, but usually at intervals someone kindly stops to remind me that this is not a fight, and to pull me back into the discordant chorus of voices, one register of which I can usually, hopefully, follow. I assured tío Mario that night as I have assured others that for me it is refreshing to witness a table of well informed, well educated people speaking rationally and passionately about social and political issues. This kind of discussion is not as common in the U.S., and I love it. It reminds me of college seminars. Of course, one of the leading voices in these debates is usually my husband Alonso, who, as anyone who knows him can attest, loves a good discussion.

That night at Diego Pizza we had come from Parque del Mar cemetery in Concón, where we had spent two days receiving scores of colleagues, friends, and family members who had come to pay their respects and express their sincere love and admiration for mi suegro, Víctor Ilych Jaques González.

Tío Mario’s refrain brought me back to an asado two months earlier at tío David’s house near Quilpué, where the discussion ranged from the necessity of continuing education and certification for Chilean architects and engineers to the quality of healthcare in Chile to Piñera to Peru to dentistry to legendary Mapuche warrior Galvarino and beyond. Tío David assured me that day that no one was fighting and that intense conversation of that kind was characteristically Chilean. I expressed my understanding and approval in broken Spanish, as I tried to do last week in Viña.

David, Maria Fernanda, Diego, Victor, Maria Isabel, Alonso, y yo

There was another voice at the table at tío David’s house that was missing in Viña, a quiet yet resonant voice whose owner leaned in at moments to confide in me about the complexities of the Chilean character with a wry smile and a warm confidentiality that made me feel like part of the joke, as only the best satirists can do. “Sarah, there is something else you should know about Chileans: We are experts in almost everything.” That was Victor, and his voice at the table at tío David’s is the one I missed in Viña, the one whose loss to me I didn’t possess the words to describe.

It was Victor who gave me my first taste of lúcuma, tuna, and chirimoya. He welcomed me to Chile and to his family with grace, charm, and impeccable manners, speaking to me in English, and slowly and clearly explaining Chilean customs, history, geography, and cuisine in Spanish. He showed me Chile through the eyes of a gentleman. He had a sense of humor of exactly the right dryness for my wicked taste. When I was deciding whether I would move to Chile, I thought of Victor, who, for me, was the epitome of the best of Chilean characteristics: educated, patient, introverted yet gracious, welcoming, respectful, kind, quietly great. He was the kind of man who doesn’t seek attention, but whose wisdom, heart, and work ethic draw people to him. So many came to mourn Victor, all of whom knew someone slightly different, and all of whom loved him.

I will always feel him near me as I watch his hands cutting chirimoya for me on the patio in Limache after the first astounding almuerzo I shared with his family there, as he describes the characteristics of the different kinds of Chilean fruit I will encounter here. I will remember him leaning in to tell me, eyes full of mischief, that Chileans are experts in everything. I will miss him at the table when everyone is not fighting.

Diego, Maria Isabel, Lorena, Alonso y Victor en Limache

“¡No estamos peleando!”

Éste fue el estribillo repetido por tío Mario el jueves pasado a Diego Pizza en Viña. Yo estaba sentado al borde del vórtice de voces debatiendo apasionadamente sobre la calidad y el precio de la educación universitaria en Chile, en medio de varias temas de discusión. El aviso repetido de Mario esa noche que los Chilenos tienen opiniones fuertes que les gustan expresar me recordó de las otras ocasiones en que he sido asegurada por mis huéspedes gentiles que no es impropio, por ejemplo, gritar al otro lado de la mesa que tu tío no podría estar mas equivocado con respecto a la calidad de material de laboratorio usado en una universidad de ingeniería muy de prestigio en Chile en comparación con materiales de laboratorio disponible en universidades mas económicos en los Estados Unidos.

A veces – pues, muchas veces – me siento perdida mientras las voces y temas traslapan y la discusión intensifica, pero generalmente, a intervalos, alguien amablemente pausa para asegurarme que no es una lucha, y para tirarme otra vez dentro del coro discordante de voces, un registro de que usualmente puedo entender. Esa noche in Viña, dije a tío Mario lo que he dicho a los demás, que para mi, es refrescante ver gente instruida y bien informada hablando racionalmente y apasionadamente sobre temas políticas y sociales. Esta especie de discusión es menos común en los Estados Unidos, y me encanta. Pero, por supuesto, una de las voces mas fuertes en estos debates es lo de mi marido Alonso, a quien, como saben todos que le conocen, le gusta harto un debate caldeado.

Esa noche a Diego Pizza, habíamos ido de Parque del Mar cementerio en Concón, donde habíamos pasado dos días recibiendo un sinnúmero de colegas, amigos, y familia quien habían ido para pagar respecto y para expresar su cariño y admiración en honor de mi suegro, Víctor Ilych Jaques González.

El estribillo repetido de tío Mario me recordó de un asado dos meses antes, a la casa de tío David en el campo cerca de Quilpué, donde la discusión fue de la necesidad para formación permanente y certificaciones anuales para arquitectos a la calidad de la atención de salud en Chile, a Piñera, a Perú, a la odontología, a guerrero Mapuche leyendario Galvarino, y más allá. David me aseguró ese día que nadie estaba peleando, y que conversaciones intensas así fueron característicamente Chileno. Expresé mi comprensión y aprobación en castellano mas quebrado que galleta de soda, así como traté de expresar en Viña la semana pasada.

Pero hubo otra voz a la mesa de tío David hace dos meses que faltaba en Viña – una voz tranquilo pero resonante cuya poseedor inclinaba hacia mi de vez en cuando para confiar a mi sobre las complejidades del carácter Chileno con una sonrisita irónica e intimidantemente cariñosa que me hizo sentir como parte del juego, del modo como solo los mejores satíricos pueden hacer. “Sarah, hay algo que tu debes saber de Chilenos. Somos expertos en todo.” Fue Víctor, y su voz a la mesa a la casa de tío David fue lo que me faltó en Viña, lo cuya perdida no poseí las palabras de describir.

Fue Víctor que me dio mi primera prueba de lúcuma, tuna, y chirimoya. Él me recibió a Chile y a su familia con gracia, carisma, y cortesía impecable, hablándome en Inglés, y me explicando en castellano claro y lento los costumbres, la historia, la geografía, y la cocina de Chile. Él me mostró Chile al través de los ojos de un caballero. Él tenía un sentido de humor a la sequedad exactamente de mi gusto. Cuando estaba decidiendo si me gustaría vivir en Chile, pensé en Víctor, que, para mi, fue la personificación de las mejores de las características Chilenas: instruido, introvertido, cortés, paciente, respetuoso, bien informado, benévolo, sigilosamente grande. Fue el especie de caballero que nunca solicita atención, pero cuyo juicio, alma, y ética traen la gente para él. Mucha gente vino para honrar a Víctor, cada uno que conocía a un Víctor un poco distinto, y todos que le querían harto.

Siempre lo sentiré cercano de mi, mientras veo sus manos cortando chirimoya para mí en el patio en Limache después del primer y asombroso almuerzo que compartí con su familia allí, y mientras él me describía los sabores y características de las varias frutas yo encontraría aquí. Lo recordaré inclinándose hacia mi para me dijo, ojos llenos de pillería, que Chilenos son expertos en todo. Le me echaré de menos en la mesa cuando todos no están peleando.

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Grandes Esperanzas

So now I seem to be starting over as a student here in Chile where my thoughts mostly stay trapped in my head because I don’t have the words to communicate them to those around me — or because I’m paralyzed by fear that I will butcher the language when I open my mouth, which I usually do.

My Spanish teacher told me today that I could easily get a job teaching at a university immediately; her college English teacher did not speak Spanish. To me that seems a bit unethical and, well, really quite lonely. It’s not easy to live in a place without knowing the language well. How can I ask Chileans to respect me as an editor, teacher, sister, client, colleague, student, and friend if I haven’t taken the time to learn their language?

I am trying. I am really trying, but it is exhausting. The prospect of another chaotic line-ish grouping waiting for public toilets is daunting. I almost fell to my knees to thank a woman who defended my gringa’s right to a bathroom stall after I missed about a dozen turns at the mall this weekend. How can I argue over a bathroom stall with people who seem not to see that I exist? How can I argue at all if I don’t know the language? What right do I have to their bathroom stalls?

Overall, I feel welcome here, and thankful for the many, many helpful and generous Chileans I meet. It is just mortifying to feel like such a clumsy, inelegant brute all the time. But it’s really only in the bathroom where things seem fall apart, and sometimes with the dogs.

I walk every day, often accompanied by one of the many stray dogs here for a block or two, then another. The dogs break my heart. I can’t help it. They are somehow (obviously) emblematic of my isolation here. I can’t touch them; I can’t communicate with them. I want to, but I can’t. I miss my dog. I miss my U.S. home, my friends and family. But when I look up from my computer screen, I see a spectacular view of my new city and evidence of a new life with my husband in a place I know and love more every day.

Clearly dogs and bathroom lines are superficial reflections of deeper cultural issues I’ll need to address more formally when I possess the language skills to do so. For now I am learning as much as I can in hopes of someday adding something of value to this place.

Today was my second day of Spanish classes after more than a decade. I found a way to work Victorian literature into the class. Okay, this is going to be good.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Charles Dickens fue un escritor inglés que vivió en la Era Victoriana en Inglaterra. Aunque fue un novelista muy popular durante su vida, nunca fue rico a pesar de trabajar muy duro hasta su muerte en 1870. Durante su carrera escribió mas de 20 novelas, unas docenas de historias cortas, y artículos periodísticos muy numerosos. Siempre fue muy crítico de la injusticia social y sobre todo las malas condiciones de vida y trabajo de la clase trabajadora, especialmente niños, y se puede ver esta crítica en la totalidad de su escritura.

Nació en 1812, Dickens estuvo contento los primeros años de su vida, cuando disfrutó la vida de clase media con sus padres y sus siete hermanos. Esta vida cómoda terminó repentinamente cuando el padre de Charles fue puesto en prisión por deudas en 1824. Toda la familia de Charles fue a la Marshalsea prisión para deudores con el padre, con la excepción de Charles, que, a la edad de 12 anos fue a trabajar a una fabrica de zapatos — Warren’s Shoe Blacking Factory. Charles nunca olvidó esta experiencia traumática, y es uno de muchas experiencias duras que informe sus escritos.

Dickens tuvo una conciencia social muy fuerte, y durante toda su vida insistió en defender los derechos de las clases trabajadoras. Dickens usó su popularidad para enseñar a la clase media leyenda la realidad de la vida de los pobres en Inglaterra, y en su manera mejoró esa realidad, cuando al mismo tiempo creó obras maestras literarias. Las novelas de Charles Dickens todavía son unos de las novelas más populares en la historia de la literatura inglesa, y hoy nos enseña mucho de las vidas de otras en Inglaterra de la Era Victoriana y en el mundo de hoy.

Unos de sus novelas mas conocidos incluye:

A Christmas Carol (novela corta); A Tale of Two Cities; Bleak House; David Copperfield; Dombey and Son; Great Expectations; Hard Times; Little Dorrit; Martin Chuzzlewit; Nicholas Nickleby; Oliver Twist; Our Mutual Friend; The Mystery of Edwin Drood ; The Old Curiosity Shop


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College Humanities Writing Tips IV – Verbs

4. Verbs

Well chosen verbs clarify and strengthen your claims. As you read any piece of writing, make a list of strong, active verbs that might be useful for critical analysis of the arguments a text and/or its author are making. Consult the list when you’re writing to help you identify exactly what you want to say and the best way to say it.

Here’s a start:

Accommodate
Ameliorate
Answer
Anticipate
Appropriate
Assert
Balance
Betray
Claim
Combine
Complicate
Condone
Contradict
Corrupt
Create
Criticize
Critique
Defy
Demonstrate
Destabilize
Develop
Discredit
Display
Distinguish
Echo
Enumerate
Establish
Exaggerate
Examine
Exemplify
Exploit
Expose
Idealize
Identify
Incorporate
Inscribe
Interrogate
Justify
Juxtapose
Legitimize
Magnify
Minimize
Mitigate
Mirror
Parallel
Paralyze
Parody
Perpetuate
Persuade
Portray
Present
Quantify
Question
Rationalize
Recognize
Rectify
Refine
Refuse
Refute
Reinforce
Reject
Render
Renounce
Repeat
Reveal
Revolutionize
Romanticize
Satirize
Show
Solidify
Subvert
Suggest
Support
Sympathize
Undermine
Underscore
Write

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College Humanities Writing Tips III – Integrating Quotations

3. Integrating and Contextualizing Evidence

In your papers, your quotes should be relevant to your claims. You need to introduce your quotes and contextualize them to show how they develop your argument. A well integrated and contextualized quote will support your analysis of the text and lead to further analysis and new ideas. Don’t just list quotes as examples. Work quotes into your argument; use the text to support and expand your well-supported and clearly expressed ideas. For more about using quotations, see the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).

Here is a brief list of structures that can help develop analysis (this is by no means comprehensive):

  • That “___________” (page), according to Columbus, justifies…
  • Columbus’s assertion that “___________” (page) reveals…
  • When Columbus suggests that “________” (page), he reveals…
  • By suggesting that “___”(page), Columbus shows ________ . That is, __________ (Your analysis here).
  • (Your claim here). Columbus demonstrates this when he writes, “_____” (page). Here, Columbus not only exploits x, but also perpetuates y. That is, …. (Your analysis here).
  • In Candide, Voltaire critiques x. When he writes, “____________” (page), Voltaire uses irony to destabilize y and to undermine z.  (Add more evidence and/or further analysis to support your claims and/or add another layer of complexity to your original claim here.)

In a nutshell: Choose quotes that are relevant to your argument. Introduce your quotes in a way that integrates them into your argument, then analyze them afterward if needed to support and develop your ideas. There are many ways to do this.

Remember:

QUOTES AND PARAPHRASE DO NOT REPLACE ARGUMENTATION. Your arguments should be BASED on textual evidence and SUPPORTED by it. USE STRONG, ACTIVE VERBS!

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College Humanities Writing Tips II – Transitions

Welcome to the second installment of a few quick tips I put together for college humanities students writing about literature and history – and anyone else, really. Well chosen transitions function not only to polish your writing, but also to develop your ideas and strengthen your arguments.

2. Transitions

Build a complex and well supported argument seamlessly with language that clearly connects your ideas to textual evidence and develops and expands your thesis. Here are some constructions that can help:

Further complicating this idea, Woolf also suggests…
Woolf goes on to critique xyz when she writes…
In addition to undermining xyz, Woolf also discredits abc when she writes, “____ ” (Woolf 6). In other words,
Indeed, Woolf goes on to explore this theme later when she suggests…
Woolf builds on this idea later when…
Further, Woolf suggests…
Later, Woolf invites…
Moreover, according to Woolf,
Furthermore, Woolf explains…
While she demonstrates the absurdity of abc when she writes that “_____” (Wolf 6), this very assertion reveals Woolf’s own privileged class position, weakening her argument. That is,
At the same time, however,
Woolf examines another aspect of this theme when she…
Woolf reveals the absurdity of this notion when she playfully examines the mating rituals of bunnies: “_________” (17).
However,
Indeed,
Therefore,
Thus,
Clearly, then,
Additionally,
Conversely,
Ultimately,
In other words,
In spite of the fact that…
In a turn of logic,
In a seeming contradiction, Machiavelli also suggests that
Machiavelli also suggests that…
On the one hand, Machiavelli… On the other hand, Machiavelli…

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