Saturday, November 23, 2013

Words, politics, memorization

I dislike most memorization, although my love of words makes vocabulary an exception. However, when I'm learning a foreign language, I resist learning a lot of grammar rules, especially those that make no sense to me.

One small example is the gender of nouns in languages such as German and Spanish. Not only is it entirely illogical (a bridge shouldn't have gender), it also offends my anti-sexist politics.

So, imagine my thoughts when, on my umpteenth walk through one section of Mérida, I finally noticed these two storefronts, less than 50 yards apart, with competing gender for the same noun (Click the image to enlarge):

I had a rapid series of thoughts:

First, I looked two and three times and simply wondered

  • "WTF?"
  • "What does that word mean, anyway?"
  • "What does my dictionary say about that word?"
  • "Next time, I have to bring my camera!"

Next, I was amused and annoyed: "They're just doing that to intentionally confuse non-Spanish speakers like me!"

Next: "Well, what do you know? Maybe gender of nouns is becoming less important even in Spanish! Maybe there's hope!"

When I got to the dictionary, I found both el huerto and la huerta (garden) listed!

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