Sunday, October 14, 2007

Accents and technological victory

I have had a minor victory here...I have managed to install accents on my keyboard. OK, that is kind of sad, but it was getting embarrassing sending e-mails without the accents. Now I can type....

Què passa?


d'áquí cap a les dues.





I can also bore you senseless with my rules for accents in Catalan....

Feel free to skip this part...I'll run a row of asterisks (how do you pluralise aster ix?) when I am done.

In Catalan, the accent for the letter a can only go this way à. It is called an open accent.

I and U can only be closed, like this: í, ú

while E and O can go either way: è, é, ò, ó. The bi letters of the Catalan world.

The letter C can have a trencada, which is like a slash for a capital Q but slicing the other way, and of course on the lower part of the letter C. Unfortunately, no keyboards can do this punctuation mark properly so we are left with the Spanish ç. Catalan nationalists must think that Bill Gates is in cahoots with the fascist left-overs trying to suppress the Catalan language, culture and way of life through this omission.

Accents are used to change the sound of the vowel, to tell you where the emphasis of the word should be..the tonic vowel, and to tell two similar words apart. For instance mes which is month, and més which is more, or si which is if, and sí which is yes. The last two reasons, discerning the tonic vowel and differentiating synonyms, seem specious to me as an English speaker, we get along just fine without them thankyouverymuch. The first rule, which signals the change in the sound of a vowel maybe would be handy, for instance read and read, for example: I like to read. I read a book yesterday. Say them aloud. The sound changes yet the spelling is the same.

There are also rules that are positively baroque in their complexity...

In four syllable words, the vowel in the second syllable always takes an accent....if it is an e or an o, non-native speakers have to guess which accent to use. I would advise flipping a coin.

In three syllable words, the middle vowel doesn't take an accent if the word ends in a, e, i, o, u or as, es, is, os, us, en or in. Simple, no? Again if that middle vowel is an o or an e, your guess is as good as mine.

In two syllable words, unlike in three syllable words, the final vowel takes an accent WHEN the word ends in: a, e, i, o, u, as, es, is, os, u, en or in.

Same thing applies to those pesky o and e's.

Following me here?

Single syllable words apparently are the anarchists of this whole system, which are reminiscent of the Russian genealogy tables in their convolutions, and do whatever the heck they please.

By the same token, I am not sure that I am correct on any of this, but it is what I have been told so far.


OK grammar chickens, that's over...and all the wit and humour I injected into that minor dissertation have passed you by.

Youngest came in this morning while I was still half awake and started my day this way, "You know what Mom? Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) has too many summers."

Time to go walk the dog. I may add a photo if something strikes me. Or I may not.

I am just glad to have scored a victory over technology by adding those accents....

Hope your weekend is going well. are some pics...there are wild boar in the hills around here, and this is the evidence...Chuck found it, nothing like some good boar poop to roll in....
Here's a trotter print. There was some angst around this because the boar can actually be quite dangerous, Asterix and Obelix aside....

This is a large set of rocks we walked up to....there have been many neolithic finds around this site, and finds from later periods too...there was a fire pit under it when we got there and fresh ashes...seems folks haven't really changed all that much...though I think the beer cans are an innovation. And the shell casings.

We still like a good view too. Though maybe they liked the defensive position it supplied. I just like to gaze at the sea.


Beth said...

You lost me at, "The bi letters of the Catalan world" - although I soldiered on. And after all that, to say you're not sure you're correct on any of it!

Theresa said...

Okay, now I have another reason for not learning Catalan. Think I'll stick to Spanish. ;)

kate said...

Yes, the vowels and their accents are one reason why I've never made an effort to learn Catalan. I would like to, and if we lived in Cataluña I definitely would, but right now it strikes me as a lot of work for not much payoff (ie not much chance to actually use the language.)

We have a Spanish keyboard, of course, complete with all the accents. It took me forever to realize that there actually is an apostrophe on here, too, and I don't have to use the Spanish accent mark for all of my possessives and contractions. Probably the whole first year of my blog is plagued with the inappropriate use of accent-mark-as-apostrophe.

It's always fun when people visit from the US and get confused on the keyboard. I never learned to type the right way anyway so it doesn't bother me...

oreneta said...

Beth: You are a brave woman....

Theresa: I have to start Spanish soon...I hope it is easier.

Kate: I have to use Spanish keyboards fairly often and as I now type fast enough that I don't look or think about it...the mistakes I make on the Spanish machines!!!!!!