Author: Jorge Gallegos

BILINGUALS

Why Bilinguals Are Smarter

Hablar dos idiomas es útil, práctico y a veces puede ser un reto, pero ¿sabías que también hace que seas más inteligente? Lee este interesante artículo del New York Times para saber cómo es posible.

Here are some key excerpts:

But in recent years, scientists have begun to show that the advantages of bilingualism are even more fundamental than being able to converse with a wider range of people. Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.

This view of bilingualism is remarkably different from the understanding of bilingualism through much of the 20th century. Researchers, educators and policy makers long considered a second language to be an interference, cognitively speaking, that hindered a child’s academic and intellectual development.

They were not wrong about the interference: there is ample evidence that in a bilingual’s brain both language systems are active even when he is using only one language, thus creating situations in which one system obstructs the other. But this interference, researchers are finding out, isn’t so much a handicap as a blessing in disguise. It forces the brain to resolve internal conflict, giving the mind a workout that strengthens its cognitive muscles.

[…]

“Bilinguals have to switch languages quite often — you may talk to your father in one language and to your mother in another language,” says Albert Costa, a researcher at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Spain. “It requires keeping track of changes around you in the same way that we monitor our surroundings when driving.” In a study comparing German-Italian bilinguals with Italian monolinguals on monitoring tasks, Mr. Costa and his colleagues found that the bilingual subjects not only performed better, but they also did so with less activity in parts of the brain involved in monitoring, indicating that they were more efficient at it.

And the benefits are not only for young people, since recent studies have shown that bilinguals “were more resistant than others to the onset of dementia and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease: the higher the degree of bilingualism, the later the age of onset.”

Lee el artículo completo aquí: Why Bilinguals Are Smarter

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Faltar y Hacer falta

Faltar y Hacer falta

The expressions faltar and hacer falta are related in meaning since both indicate the absence of something (an action or a thing); however, their uses are quite different in Spanish. Let’s take a look:

1. FALTAR

(a) One of the main uses of faltar is to indicate the absence of something. In this sense, faltar simply means “there isn’t / there aren’t”:

  • No faltaron voces que denunciaran la manipulación de los resultados por el dictador. There wasn’t a shortage of voices to denounce the dictator’s manipulation of the results.

(b) When combined with time markers, faltar can also be used to point out the proximity of an event:

  • Faltando pocos días para su inicio, las olimpiadas de Beijing representan una ocasión de festejo para todos los deportes. A few days shy of their opening, the Beijing Olimpics represent a cause for celebration for all sports.

(c) Faltar can also be used as an equivalent for “not to attend” or “not to appear”:

  • El jugador faltó a la práctica. The player didn’t show up for practice.

 

2. HACE FALTA

The expression hace falta is always used to indicate a need. It can either be:

(a) The need for a certain action to take place:

  1. No hace falta decir que el equipo que marque más goles durante el partido resulta ganador. It’s not necessary to state that the team that scores more goals during the match will be the winner.

(b) Or, the need for an object, thing, or person:

Dado este auge mundial, hacía falta un organismo central que coordinara el deporte en el plano internacional. Due to this world-wide growth, it was necessary to create a central organization to coordinate sport at global level.

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focus

Tres traducciones de “focus”

(1) FOCUS AS ENFOCAR

When we adjust an optical device so that an image looks clear, sharp, or with a higher definition, we translate “focus” as “enfocar”:

  • Tienes que enfocar el proyector correctamente, si no la presentación se verá mal. You have to focus the projector properly; otherwise the presentation will look terrible.
  • Asegúrate de que la cámara esté enfocada; no queremos que las fotos salgan mal. Make sure the camera is focused; we don’t want the pictures to look bad.

 

(2) FOCUS AS CONCENTRARSE

When we talk about directing our attention or efforts to an activity or a topic, especially in order to achieve something else, we translate “focus” as “concentrarse”:

  • Este mes necesito concentrarme en terminar mi tesis. This month I need to focus on finishing up my thesis.
  • Si te concentras en un solo problema a la vez, podrás resolver todo más rápido. If you focus on one problem at a time, you will be able to solve everything faster.

 

(3) FOCUS AS PRESTAR ATENCIÓN

When we talk about concentrating on what we are doing (reading, listening, watching, etc) or what someone else is saying, we use the equivalent phrase “prestar atención”:

  • ¡Presta atención cuando te estoy hablando! Focus when I’m talking to you!
    Tienes que prestar atención a los detalles si quieres escribir un buen informe. You have to focus on the details if you want to write a good book report.
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lobos

El foco y la foca

Is el foco the masculine of the word la foca? No quite so!

El foco has several meanings including the commonly-used word light bulb:

  • El baño está oscuro porque se quemó el foco. The bathroom is dark because the light bulb is burned out.

La foca means seal:

  • Las focas son animales mamíferos. Seals are mammals.

Other translations of el foco:

  • El foco de la investigación fue el lavado de dinero. The focal point of the investigation was the money laundering.
  • Times Square es un gran foco turístico. Times Square is an important touristic epicenter.
  • El actor debe estar debajo del foco durante su monólogo. The actor must be underneath the spotlight during his monologue.

By the way, the masculine for la foca is el foca, and remember that ‘focus’ is a false friend. The Spanish word for “focus” is “atención” or “concentratión”.

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POR

Principales usos de “por”

Let’s take a look at some of the main uses of the preposition “por”, using examples from the Nuestra Cultura’ s article “Machu Picchu, la ciudad de los incas”.

1. Por + something/someone:  It is used to indicate what or who causes a certain mental state or attitude:

  • Los científicos están fascinados por sus misterios. Scientists are fascinated by their mysteries.

2. Por + cause: It indicates the cause or reason of something:

  • Por estos motivos y muchos más, Machu Picchu es uno de los destinos turísticos más importantes del mundo. For these reasons and more, Machu Picchu is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world.

3. Por + date: It marks the approximate time of an event:

  • Pachacútec, el primer emperador inca, lideró a su gente por el año 1450Pachacútec, the first Inca Emperor, lead his people around the year 1450.

4. Por + purpose: It indicates the purpose or objective behind an action:

  • Ya sea por amor a la historia, o por amor a lo exótico, todo fanático de los viajes debe conocer este increíble lugar. Whether for a love of history or a love for exotic places, any travel enthusiast has to get to know this incredible place.

5. Por + place: It is used to indicate the distance or route through which something or someone passes:

  • Las áreas religiosas más importantes están situadas en la cima de la montaña, por donde asoma el Rey Sol. The most important religious areas are located at the summit of the mountain through which the King Sun appears.

6. Por + person: It marks the agent or doer of the action in the passive voice structure:

  • Las ruinas de Machu Picchu fueron redescubiertas en 1911 por el arqueólogo Hiram Bingham. The Machu Picchu ruins were rediscovered in 1911 by the archaeologist Hiram Bingham.
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MAGCHU

Machu Picchu, la ciudad perdida de los incas

En el territorio de Perú hallamos uno de los destinos más enigmáticos del planeta: Las ruinas de Machu Picchu. Este mágico lugar ha cautivado a sus visitantes durante siglos, y los científicos están fascinados por sus misterios. Su encanto y misticismo son tan marcados que recientemente se lo ha escogido como una de las nuevas siete maravillas del mundo.

El Machu Picchu se ubica al sur de Perú, en la vertiente oriental de los Andes. La ciudad majestuosa se eleva sobre el valle de Urabamba. Los arqueólogos conjeturan que Machu Picchu podría haber sido una de las residencias de Pachacútec, el primer emperador inca, quien lideró a su gente por el año 1450. Asimismo, las varias construcciones con propósito ceremonial que se incluyen en el sitio sugieren que también funcionaba como santuario religioso.

Se estima que en la ciudad vivían unas 1.200 personas, distribuidas ocupacional y geográficamente en tres áreas principales: agrícola, urbana, y religiosa. Las áreas más bajas del sitio contienen los edificios ocupados por los granjeros; en las zonas medias de la montaña, las terrazas y los sistemas de riego aprovechan las cuestas naturales; y las áreas religiosas más importantes están situadas en la cima de la montaña, por donde asoma el Rey Sol.

Las ruinas de Machu Picchu, conocidas como la “ciudad perdida de los incas”, fueron redescubiertas en 1911 por el arqueólogo Hiram Bingham, de Yale. Las leyendas y los mitos indican que Machu Picchu (término quechua que significa vieja montaña o cumbre mayor) fue venerado como lugar sagrado. Además, se sabe que el Machu Picchu era un observatorio astronómico. La piedra de Intihuatana (vara que engancha del sol) es un indicador exacto de la fecha de los dos equinoccios y de otros períodos celestes significativos. En el mediodía el 21 de marzo y el 21 de septiembre, el sol cae directamente sobre el pilar, no crea ninguna sombra.

Con más de 150 casas y edificaciones en gran estado de conservación, Machu Picchu es considerada al mismo tiempo una obra maestra de la arquitectura y la ingeniería. Estas estructuras, talladas en el granito gris de la cima de la montaña, son maravillas del genio arquitectónico y estético. Muchos de los bloques de edificio pesan 50 toneladas o más, y fueron esculpidos con una perfección milimétrica.

Por estos motivos y muchos más, Machu Picchu es uno de los destinos turísticos que toda persona debe visitar. Ya sea por amor a la historia, o por amor a lo exótico, todo amante de los viajes debe conocer este increíble lugar.

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Perro feroz

“Vicious” is not “Vicioso”

Beware of false friends: “vicious” is not the same as “vicioso”.

Although they sound similar, their meanings are not related. While “vicioso” refers to someone who has a vice, such as drugs or alcohol, “vicious” is an adjective that can have different meanings depending on the context:

1. When we mean “depraved”, we use the equivalents “depravado”, “malo”, “cruel”, “malvado”.

2. When we mean “savage”, we use the equivalents “malo”, “fiero”, “salvaje”, “feroz”, “despiadado”.

3. When we mean “malicious”, we use the equivalent “malicioso”.

Examples:

  • A vicious dog. Un perro feroz.
  • “She’s a vicious, horrible person.” – Donald Trump. “Ella es una persona malvada.” – Donald Trump.
  • Her boss unleashed a vicious criticism on her job performance. Su jefe desató un ataque despiadado sobre su desempeño laboral.
  • When you hear vicious gossip at work it needs to be addressed. Cuando escuches chismes maliciosos en el trabajo, es hora de confrontarlos.
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Movie night - Un cuento chino

Movie Night: Un cuento chino (A Chinese Take-Away)

Join us for a very entertaining and funny comedy that is also thoughtful and will get your attention all the way to the end.

Un Cuento Chino (“A Chinese Take-Away”, Argentina, 2010) is the story of Roberto (Ricardo Darín), a man marked by the hard times he had over 2 decades ago – Since then, Roberto has a lonely life, hidden into his own world. One day, a strange turn of destiny wakes him up and brings him back. “Un Cuento Chino” (“A Chinese Take Away”) is the story of an Argentinian and a Chinese united by a cow that falls from the sky!

With solid reviews, you will greatly enjoy the movie, as well as our informal Spanish conversation before and after the film.

All our movie events are with our own projector, large screen & sound system.

In Spanish with English subtitles; event is good for all levels.

 

When: Saturday, January 30, 2016

Where: Easy Español (See map)

Cost: $6 per person online. ( $10 at event, if space is available.) Click here to pay.

Space is limited. Please pay advance online to reserve your spot. 

Event schedule:

5:15 pm: Door opens, arrive in venue. Meet others and practice your Spanish!

5:45 pm: A brief intro to the movie. Movie starts.

7:10 pm: Movie ends. Short commentary – Stay and meet others!

7:30 pm: Event officially ends.

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Muy-mucho

¿Muy o Mucho?

Let’s take a look at their differences:

MUY: 

Muy is an adverb, so it never changes. It is placed before adjectives, participles, adverbs and nouns (that act like adjectives).  Muy can be translated as very, too, highly, etc, and is used to add a superlative degree of significance:

  • Muy tarde. Too late.
  • Muy rápido. Very fast.
  • Muy estrecho. Too tight.
  • El sur de España es muy cálido. The South of Spain is very warm.

MUCHO:

Mucho (much, many, great) may act as an adjective, pronoun or adverb:

a) As an adjective:

  • Hace mucho frío. It’s so cold.
  • Hay muchas personas en el almacén. There are many people in the store.

b) As a pronoun:

  • Hay muchas. There are many/a lot.

c) As an adverb:

  • Me gusta mucho este vestido. I like this dress a lot.

So, we can use mucho, mucha,muchos, muchas before a noun, or mucho after a verb.

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cuento

El cuento y la cuenta

You probably know what “la cuenta” means if you have been at a Spanish restaurant.  “El cuento” is not a bill just for boys. It means a tale, a short story, or simply, a story.

  • Un cuento chino: a complicated and unbelievable story, a cock-and-bull story.
  • Tener más cuento que calleja: to be full of excuses.
  • Vivir del cuento: to live without working, to live on or by one’s wits.
  • Ser un cuentista: literally, to be a storyteller; figuratively, to lie, to exaggerate.
  • No venir a cuento: not to be relevant, to be unimportant or unrelated to the subject discussed.
  • El cuento de nunca acabar: the never-ending story.
  • Un cuento de viejas: an old wives’ tale.
  • Dejarse de cuentos: to stop lying or giving excuses.
  • Cuento largo: long story
  • Estar en el cuento: to be well informed, to be in the know.
  • El cuento de la lechera: to build castles in the air.
  • Venir con cuentos: to tell lies or an unbelievable story.
  • Un cuento de hadas: a fairy tale.

 

¿Quieres saber más sobre el origen de la frase “un cuento chino”? Visita el interesante blog: Hablando de palabras.

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