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Thursday, July 17, 2014


On The Hunt For Typos

by Lauris

I love to laugh especially if it’s a pierna suelta. If that's the case then trying to define the happiness I express through laughter is very difficult but the joy is clearly visible. I like bad jokes (and good ones too, of course), absurd and surreal comedies. In fact, one of my favorite movies is Amanece, Que no es Poco (To See the Dawn is Enough). This is probably the best movie of absurd humor—but intelligently made—that has ever been produced in Spain.

You may have seen the Goya painting of La Letra Con Sangre Entra which shows a teacher administering corporal punishment to a poor student. I have never believed in that form of teaching nor do I think that teaching with an "iron fist" is very effective. Instead I have always relied on humor, sometimes quite absurd, to make my point in the Spanish language classroom. I try to present examples that will surprise the student or at least make them laugh enough that it will make an impression and help them remember the point more than if I had just taught it in a more traditional style.

I think I've mentioned at one time or another that I'm a little tiquismiquis (stickler) for certain things and one of those things is with the press. It bothers me to no end how some papers don't really proofread enough of their content. I'm not talking just about grammatical errors, but also spelling and syntax. One reason it bothers me so much is that for many Spanish speakers, what is written in a newspaper carries a lot of weight—often times it is the sole source of reading for many people. It is for these readers, especially,  that the newspaper should be scrupulous with the way they proofread their content to assure the highest level of correctness.

Typos in the Spanish Press

One of my hobbies is collecting clippings of these errors and typos that appear in the press. With these clippings I will go to class (usually starting with B1 or B2 classes) and ask them to find the mistake that is hidden somewhere in the headline or body of text. The next step is for them, as a group (with me helping in the background), to explain the errors.

We always get a good laugh with this exercise and I have found that students take away quite a bit from this type of exercise.  This is also a particularly satisfying exercise since I feel like a "good witch" spreading the magic of good humor and laughs.

Thanks to the internet it isn’t that hard to find examples of some of these linguistic crimes. Here are some examples:

Un avión español se estrella en Turquía por tercera vez en lo que va de año.
A Spanish plane crashes in Turkey for the third time this year.

--It seems this plane has hit a bit of bad luck, crashing three times in one year. I imagine it should have been written this way: En lo que va de año tres aviones españoles se han estrellado en Turquía.

FSC Inserta imparte en Sevilla un taller para personas con discapacidad de técnicas comerciales.
FSC Inserta imparts in Seville a workshop for people with no capacity for sales techniques.

--I can apply for this course since I have no ability for selling things.  This way would have been better: FSC Inserta imparte en Sevilla un taller de técnicas comerciales para personas con discapacidad.

Ayer la corona británica embistió al actor Roger Moore con el título de caballero…
Yesterday the British crown charged (as in assaulted) the actor Roger Moore with title of Knight…

--Obviously there was some confusion as to which verb to use. The proper verb in this sentence is INVESTIR (invistió). If we read this sentence as it is, then we can imagine the British crown as some kind of fighting bull charging  poor old 007.

… consiguieron curarle de una hernia fiscal que la Aseguradora no supo apreciar ni curar.
they managed to cure him of a fiscal hernia that the insurer wasn't able to detect or cure.

--I can understand how taxes can bother this poor guy, but to get to the point of producing a fiscal hernia seems a bit excessive. I'm sure they were talking about a herniated disc (hernia discal).

El recorrido se hace a pie […] salvo las personas mayores con dificultades para andar y los decapitados, que son trasladados en las ambulancias de Cruz Roja.
The route is done on foot…except for elderly people with walking difficulties and those people that are decapitated, who will then be transported by the Red Cross.

--You shouldn't be surprised that decapitated people would need to be transported in ambulance. Since walking without a head… I think here they want to say discapacitados (disabled).

So there you have it, a fun and interesting opportunity to better our students' Spanish. They are sure to like this lesson since they will be looking our for mistakes made by others and not their own.

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