Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Image result for Open University

This morning’s information on the OU site that the Assessment Section was down because it was ‘very busy’ indicated that the results of the module that I had taken were going to be released a day earlier than the target date.  And so they were.  So now I have another ‘qualification’ to add to the Castelldefel certificate that gave me a pass at A2 level for last year’s work.

Alas, paper qualifications in a language do not always tell the linguistic truth.  I now have two scraps of paper which seem to indicate that I have a proficiency in the language and, indeed I have been able to ‘speak’ my way through circumstances which have been testing: ranging from local government applications to getting the car sorted out in a local garage; from complaining about obscure prohibitions in an art gallery to finding and getting selections of books photocopied for a long essay in a Barcelona library.  In short, I have coped - though always at the expense of poor natives hearing their language mangled or, as I like to put it, “re-imagined” by my good self.

This situation cannot continue.  I have now been living in Catalonia for years and I should be near to fluent, and the real truth is that I am nowhere near that standard.

Next September will see me starting Spanish 3, an advanced course in Spanish in our local adult education centre and there will be, I’m afraid, no hiding place for inability.  My confident use of limited grammatical structures will be glaringly obvious and I will not be able to bluff my way through the series of tests and examinations that will beset me from early October onwards.

I am therefore attacking my reluctance to settle down to the hard work necessary for linguistic advancement on a few fronts.  I am going back over the work that I should have done as part of my OU course (which I have passed with flying colours, which goes to show what you can do when you are wise in the ways of the OU!) to try and reinforce what basic knowledge is lurking in my brain; I am also going over the work in the text book that we used in Castelldefels last academic year to point up what I am expected to know for the next academic year, and finally, I am working my way through “100 ejercicios” in writing and grammar designed for Year 6 Spanish Primary School pupils!  I am hoping that this three-pronged approach will lessen the humiliation in the first classes in the new year!

Some isolated things do stick.  For example I now know that the word “visón” (which in Spanish is pronounced like “bison” but with the emphasis on the second syllable) means mink.  So I can now translate the title of the Leonardo painting I always recommend to people visiting the Louvre, that in my view is much superior to the selfie-crowded Mona Lisa, and that hangs almost unnoticed just outside the crowded room in which The Picture is virtually un-viewable.  And, in case you were wondering, the Spanish word for “bison” is “bison” - but the emphasis is more on the first syllable.

I have also learned the words for a swift and a seagull, but they have not lodged in my brain as of yet.  For some reason the word for swift (the bird not the adjective) was not in my Spanish Diccionario Primaria Lengua española.  This is an excellent beginners’ dictionary which is entirely in Spanish and which I found in a rubbish bin in the centre of town and rescued.  I can only imagine that some disgruntled scholar was passing from Primaria to Secondaria and threw away the books.  It is in such good condition that I doubt that it was ever used, just dead weight in the bulky backpacks that adhere to kids’ backs.  Well, it is being used now - though I had to find the Spanish word “vencejo” in one of my many other dictionaries.

I knew that “vencejo” had to be the word for swift because I had found it in my “sopa de letras” as part of one of the exercises (number 1 of 100!) in my homework book and I was able to link it to the simple drawing.  In my Collins Dictionary and Grammar I was able to find the Spanish for swift from the English, but the Spanish word was not in the other section.  Odd, but I suppose decisions have to be made about words to be included, and I further suppose that it is much more likely that the adjective (rápido or veloz) will be used rather than the noun.

This is my life at the moment: trying to force into my easy-access memory words that I am unlikely ever to use, but which every schoolchild knows.  God help!

The Stain

Is fading!   

After only ten days it has lost its startling otherness and now looks like some passing shadow.  It is still there and I am confident (barring torrential downpours) that it will last at least another week or so, maybe more.  My determination to documents its degeneration has taken a knock with the reluctance of this program to accept my mobile phone photographs, but I shall persevere.  I have not studied the work of Ana Mendieta in my past art courses not to recognize and value the importance and significance of the transitory and gestural when I see it!

Post a Comment