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Re: "Usefull languages"

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Thursday, February 28, 2002, 18:44
En réponse à Clint Jackson Baker <litrex1@...>:

> But Spanish is definitely worse: el problema, el agua, > el drama.... >
Absolutely not! It's on the contrary very systematic. You just have to have a bit of knowledge of etymology. And that only for the first and the third, since the second is something completely different. As for "problema" and "drama", the explanation is simple: those two words are of Greek origin, and were masculine in Greek. Thus they are masculine in Spanish. other examples are "el poeta", "el poema", etc... Except for "problema", all the others are restricted to the vocabulary of art, and a schooled English-speaking person can recognise their Greek origin. So they are no problem. Note that the problem is identical in French, where those words end by -e ("problème", "drame", "poète", "poème") and still are masculine ("le problème"). So if you don't have a problem in French, you can't have it in Spanish :)) . As for "agua", the problem is different, since it's definitely a feminine word. What happens then? Well, that's called liaison, and every one who knows French knows about that. In French, when the article is put in front of a word beginning with a vowel, it's elided as l', whatever the gender. In Spanish the thing is a little more restricted. When the feminine article (the masculine is el, so cannot be elided) preceeds a word beginning with the vowel a- (or ha-, since h is silent in Spanish) and this vowel is *stressed*, it is elided too ("la agua" is quite ackward to pronounce). but since Spanish people love to add little e- in front of their words (the station, la estación for instance :)) ), the elided la becomes el, which happens to be identical to the masculine article, but in fact has the same origin as la (both come from illa, but one had the beginning elided, while the other had the end elided, through the influence of the following stressed a). Apart from that, the word stays feminine (in plural, you have "las aguas", not *"los aguas"). So you see, what you call "definitely worse" is in fact identical to what happens in French, except that it's easier :)) . Christophe. Take your life as a movie: do not let anybody else play the leading role.


Clint Jackson Baker <litrex1@...>