CST 332: I’m Sorry, Come Again? Getting Lost in Language

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Enjoying sobremesa at a new restaurant!

As we learned in lecture, language is representative of culture. Language is more than a collection of sounds and mouth movements. The words that are created and the meanings that are attached to those words are representative of what is important –and not important- to a culture.

Following is a list of three Spanish words that do not exist in English:

  • Botellón  – Open-air drinking session (involving groups of young people)
  • Consuegro –  The relationship between people whose children are married to each other
  • Sobremesa – The time spent chatting around the table after the meal has finished

I chose these three words specifically because I think they symbolize Spaniard’s dedication to bonds, socializing and relationship maintenance. The first and third words demonstrate the link between socializing and spending quality time with one another while enjoying food (whether that be a morning café con leche, afternoon lunch or evening tapas with drinks).The second word also emphasizes the importance of relationships, specifically familial relationships. In lecture we have often referenced this familial importance which is displayed by younger generations helping their elders walk along the cobblestone streets –regardless of how slow they need to go- and also by the construction of in-home childcare where family members (mostly grandparents) take care of youth.

Following is a list of three English words that do not exist in Spanish:

  • Bromance – An intimate but not sexual relationship between two men
  • All-nighter – when a person stays up all night to accomplish a task
  • Nuke – to warm something up quickly

These three words were chosen to symbolize three messages created by United States cultural Discourse: men are “manly” and not sentimental, success is mandatory not negotiable and efficiency is a necessity. Bromance is a word that was created to legitimize men’s emotional connection with other men while negating any homo-romantic assumptions. This represents the United States’ need to reinforce traditional masculinity (which denies any “feminine” characteristics including sentiment and compassion) and at the same time reinforces homophobia. All-nighter is a word (especially important to college students) that indicates the need for United States citizens to accomplish a goal…whatever the cost. Even if that cost means your own personal well-being. Finally, nuke indicates a need for speed and efficiency. In a fast moving, time-conscious culture like the United States has constructed, there must be a word to describe how people prepare their meals in a rush. Nuke denotes using as little time as possible to heat your food; in the U.S. you have to be weary of the time you spend because time is precious and your time is always tick tick ticking away.

 

 

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