Friday, February 6, 2009

I am so pathetic

This is a sad sad thing.

Most people get excited about going out to a cinema, or going out for a fabulous meal (although the Man just informed me that he has read of a place in BCN that does great burgers...that would be cool).


I am ALL excited about the Catalan class I just went to.

This was not one of the serious ones that actually aims toward some kind of certificate, it is offered here in town, and is mostly aimed at all the people who never learned to write Catalan at school.

There are many many of them. (That Franco thing).

Today we studied the apostrophe. I TOLD you I was pathetic. I was so excited.

Now the apostrophe, you would think would be a fairly straight forward little number. In English it is reasonably managable, barring some issues with the whole its/it's thing, and the whole Santa Claus' issue with possessives.

I am hear to assure you, ladies and gentlemen, that we English speakers have NO problems when it comes to apostrophes.


You see, in Catalan, there is a system

First, you have to decide whether the word is eligible for an apostrophe, it must start with an a, e, i, o, u, or h...or an s if it is an imported word that hasn't been Catalanised and is pronounced like estop rather than stop.

IF it qualifies, you then need to decide if it is masculine or feminine. This is the single most difficult step for non-native speakers and is the place where I mess up HORRIBLY.

If it is masculine, things are apostrophise it. Period. That's it.

If it is feminine however, things get more complicated. A, e, and o can all be apostrophised, and h can as well, IF the following letter is an a,e or an o, and the h is silent. You see imported words like 'hippy' and 'hardware' are not Catalanised, and so are pronounced with the Spanish *slightly horking* h, and they cannot be apostrophised.

Still with me?

This leaves us with feminine nouns starting with i and u, plus a few stray h's. Now you have to decide if the stress of the word falls on that first vowel or anywhere else in the word. *slightly tricky for those of us with poor pronunciation.*

IF it falls on the that first opening vowel, then go ahead and use the apostrophe.

IF NOT, not. *famous Catalan oath*

Would you like to hear this (semi) famous Catalan oath? It is great, sort of a reward for wading through this grammar.

This was a medieval oath of fealty, you know, one of those feudal things...Henry the Eigth loved them.

"We, who are as good as you, swear to you, who are no better than us, to accept you as our king and sovereign lord, provided you observe all our liberties and laws - but if not, not."

I am not sure Henry "Divorced, beheaded, died" would have been fond of this oath.

They ended the lesson off by saying that apostrophes are easy and straight forward. I guess by that they meant there are some rules to the whole mess. There are also exceptions (of course) I won't get into them here, it might get disheartening.

Let me just finish by saying that it was GREAT.

I am so pathetic.

oh! and for the nosey parkers in the crowd, like me, there are two more bathroom drawers/cupboards to check out, BooksBeth, and Doug both have shots up! Brave and valiant souls. There are also links to all the photos so far.


Vancouver Isle Doug said...

The Braun appliance (GEE you have good eyes!) is a cleaner/charger for my electric shaver. Anything else??

Anonymous said...

Oh man...that is a lot of rules. I thought English was screwed up with rules. Well...OK it is, but I don't think it has that many rules.

Simon Harris said...

Love the blog and I adore the way you write so it's good to see that you're learning Catalan - only a special kind of foreigner does that!

Interesting what you say about the oath. I read the story differently - Henry VIII would have hated it, because basically it's saying 'If you don't live up to your responsibilities as King, we won't as subjects' Pretty democratic, huh?

Anyway, just thought I'd say 'Hi'

Simon Harris
Author 'Going Native in Catalonia?

kate said...

Wow, you see, that is why I never seriously pursued learning Catalan. If I actually lived in BCN, I would have, but for awhile I just had a book to learn from, until I threw up my hands in surrender. So cool that you keep plugging away, though.

Do they use the apostrophe for possessives like English does?

Beth said...

Always "still with you" re: your Catalan posts but while reading about apostrophes with feminine nouns, I'm going, "Huh? Why??"
And it's never pathetic to enjoy any kind of challenge.

Beth said...

Gee- you're hard on yourself.
OK, the apostrophe saga did make my eyes glaze over a bit, I'll admit. But you are far from pathetic.
I think it's really admirable that you are doing this and liking it.
Hats off to you!

oreneta said...

Doug, no, that's it...thank you very much!

Sirdar, English is quite anarchic in fact, which actually makes it harder.

Simon, thanks for dropping by. Well, I was noting that Henry the VIII loved him an oath of fealty, but not that oath of fealty I suspect.

Kate, honestly at this moment I have no idea if they use apostrophes with possessives (nor at the moment how many esses there are in possessives) I can answer that tomorrow, but my brain is mushy right now and I have no idea...back later.

Beth, thank you...and I have no idea why an entire nation of language users would decide that only certain feminine nouns would be apostrophised. I can see variations depending on how the word is said, making it easier or more difficult to say it, but dividing the nouns based on gender when they decide to apostrophise is a fascinating little neurological quirk....wonder if anyone has studied it. It probably reveals something.

Beth, thank you to you is hardly adventurous though..if you know what I mean. I do like the challenge in the end. Usually. DO get better and take care of yourself.

Anonymous said...

I commend you for taking the time and sacrifice to learn Catalan, it could be so easy to dismiss it as not important enough to learn.

mmichele said...

Wow. Those are some pretty confusing apostrophe rules. I can hardly spell apostrophe.

dawn said...

Oh how very confusing. It sounds more difficult than English rules. But I suppose it isn't the English rules that are a problem, but the exceptions.