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Interesting Facts About Spanish

kwi 23

Spanish is the most widely spoken language in the world – by about 500 million people in 135 countries. Let’s discuss some quirks of the Spanish language.

The names of Spaniards are very long. Pablo Picasso’s real name, for example, was Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisma Trinidad Ruiz Picasso. A person who speaks Spanish speaks an average of 7.82 syllables per second. Lollpops Chupa Chups also came from Spain (from the Spanish verb chupar, which means to suck).

Have you ever „thrown the house out the window”? According to Spaniards, it is possible. The phrase „tirar la casa por la ventana„, which loosely translates to „spending much more money than you expected”. The phrase comes from the 18th century, when King Carlos III introduced a lottery to Spain! People who had won a lot of money were getting rid of household goods – furniture, clothes and various items, by throwing them out the window. So when we go shopping and happen to spend a lot of money „we throw the house out the window”.

All cat lovers probably know what to do when a cat suddenly and unexpectedly attacks you. Spaniards say: „here is a hidden cat” („aquí hay gato encerrado”). This idiom came from the 16th century custom of carrying money in purses made of feline leather. Purses were most often hidden under layers of clothes or in an attic.

And one last question: have you ever ironed your ear? This is also one of the more interesting phrases. Spaniards are known for their afternoon siesta. Spaniards will describe this activity by the phrase: „planchar la oreja” („iron the ear”) because by laying your ears on the pillow, you „iron” them a little while you sleep.

(KB)

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Spring in Krakow

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Spring is in the air. Recently, Krakow experienced a spike in temperature and it seemed that everyone noticed and spent the day outside. Seasonal Affective Disorder[1] is a real medical condition where people can become depressed due to a variety of reasons such as lower levels of Vitamin D from less sunshine exposure during the winter. Or they can feel a sense of hypermania, usually during the summer, instead.

Even for people who do not have such a disorder, changes in weather can affect how you feel. Yesterday provided a glimpse into the future and the knowledge that soon the city will bloom again. The flowers, bushes and trees already have tiny green buds on them which will soon burst open, painting the city in a variety of colors. The long gray winter will give way to the next cycle of life.

Krakow offers plenty of opportunities to get outside and enjoy the Spring season. Anyone who visits the city center must cross through The Planty, the beautiful park that encircles the old town. You can follow the walking/biking path along the Wisła River. There are also a few forests within a short distance where you can get lost among the trees for a few hours taking in the flora and fauna and the fresh air.

A fun thing to do when the weather is nice is to pick a random spot in town that you have never been to. Grab a friend and take public transportation to a distant spot. Then try to find your way back to something familiar exploring new areas along the way. Take some snacks or just eat at a new cafe that you pass by. If you ever get a little too lost, use the Jakdojade app to get back. You can find some new favorite spots this way.

(SNS)


[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

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Malta – the Island of wonders

mar 12

My husband and I recently met a man from the island nation of Malta. Having never been there before, he described such a beautiful and friendly place that we decided to do a little more research. A cursory review of Malta’s more than 7,000 year history was enough to convince us to book a trip. Over that time, Malta has experienced a clash of cultures that has resulted in a wonderful mix of people, food and architecture. Their strategic location just south of Italy made them a perfect stop on past and present trade routes. Our goals for our 4-day trip were to taste some local specialties, learn about the history firsthand and explore some of the picturesque natural wonders of both the island of Malta and its smaller companion island, Gozo. We were not disappointed.

We were able to taste a couple of local Maltese dishes, one of which was pastizzi. They are little, fist-sized flaky pastry balls filled with a ricotta cheese blend or with a mashed pea mixture. They are sold at small walk-up stands that also sell pizza by the slice and two pastizzi can be had for about 1 euro. They are filling and delicious! The pea-filled pastizzi did not sound appetizing to me but it turned out to be my favorite. We have a phrase in English, “Don’t knock it until you try it!” and I am so glad I gave it a chance. Other than eating fresh seafood at every opportunity (we were on an island after all), we also tried the local specialty of Rabbit Stew. At Il-Tokk restaurant in Victoria, Gozo, they offer a huge bowl of steaming stew for under 15 euro. The rabbit was falling-off-the-bone tender surrounded by chunks of potatoes and carrots and steeped in a variety of unknown to me seasonings. The portion was big enough to share, so we did.

After stuffing ourselves with delicious cuisine, we signed up for the free walking tour of the capital city of Malta called Valletta. We were led by a Maltese-Australian named Jennifer who was extremely knowledgeable about the history and architecture of the city. She told us interesting stories about how The Order of Saint John, a Christian Order founded in a hospice in 11th Century Jerusalem, came to inhabit the island in 1530. Their representative symbol is what we now know as the Maltese Cross. They were tasked with defending Christianity and after successfully blocking the Ottoman Empire from invading Europe during the Great Siege of 1565, they were showered with riches which they used to continue fortifying their harbors. These fortifications still stand today and many of them can be toured to learn more about this tumultuous time in history.

Although it is well-known by now that the famous Azure Window collapsed in 2017, we found so many other spectacular vistas that we believe deserve just as much attention. My favorite day in Malta was the day we rented a scooter and explored some of the islands hidden vistas. There are so many to choose from but nothing was better than watching the sun set at a random unnamed location along the Western cliffs. It was the perfect end to a wonderful trip.

(SNS)

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A few interesting facts about Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is an annual holiday of people in love. Its name comes from the name of Saint Valentine. The patron did not finish his life happily though; he was condemned to death by Claudius II. Valentine helped the soldiers get married with their beloved, which the emperor considered a crime.

When you are in love in German you are verliebt and enamorado in Spanish. In English we are in love, but we can also use a nice phrase: fall head over heels in love, which means we are crazy about love. In French, the phase of falling in love means amoureux and using the phrase Tomber fou amoureux, we will say that we love to distraction. Russians will use the phrase По уши влюбиться (pronounced yshi vlubitsya). In Italian, the phase of falling in love can be described using the words ammorato cotto.

Often in books and movies, as well as in life, love at first sight happens. In German we will say Liebe auf den ersten Blick. In Spanish, there is the gracious word flechazo, which means a shot with a Cupid’s arrow or violent love. The Italian analogue of this phrase is Amore a prima vista. In French, love of our life is Coup de foudre. Similarly, we can also use the English phrase shot through the heart.

When we find our other half in our lives, we can use the phrase to find Mr Right, or say that someone is our soul mate. In French, the love of our life is Amour de ma vie, German seelenverwandt and the Spanish alma gemela are of a similar meaning.

In Finland, there is no celebration of Valentine’s Day, but „a day of friends” – Ystavanpaiva – in which you can show your friends how important they are to you. The Estonian use Sobrapaev. The Swedes on this day will say Alla hjartans dag, meaning the holiday of all hearts.

The French Saint Valentine say Saint Valentin, while the inhabitants of Portugal – Dia dos Namorados, meaning boyfriend and girlfriend’s day.

(KB)

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The Magic of Summer in the Middle of Winter

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“Oh, I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved the idea of summer, and sun, and all things hot!” – said Olaf from Frozen (animated musical fantasy film). So do I! That’s why I escaped from winter weather here in Poland and visited Cyprus. Rumor has it that it’s the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Today I am taking you on a photographic ride through this culturally mixed and militarily strategic island.

Photos: Klaudia Tarczoń

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