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YucaLandia


May 12, 2012, 3:07 PM

Post #1 of 8 (9168 views)

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La, El, "a", "o", and "á" endings

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How often have we overheard "expert" gringos telling newbie gringos about how masculine words have "an el" and "end in 'o' "?

How often have we found Mexicans looking at us oddly, after we have just delivered some question or request in our "best Spanish"?

While struggling to learn Spanish, I've accumulated lists of the quirks of meaning and usage of words (related to gender issues) commonly used in daily interactions, and finally sat down to take a crude stab at the problem.

This forum has a lot of really fine Spanish speakers and teachers, and I offer the following for your insights and advice on improvements:
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El, La, “a”, “o”: Easy as Pie? or Fraught with Confusion for Gringos?

La, El, “a” or “o“…
Cruising the web this morning exposed yet another gringo saying:
“O” endings on words are masculine
This “gem” of wisdom came from a well experienced gringo who posts very regularly, claims over 20 years on & off in Mexico, and a guy who spins good “insider” yarns about hanging out with many of Merida’s elite, writing advice rich with personal ideas of Mexican/Yucatecan culture.
This little “gem” is particularly seductive, because it is so simple.
Easy to understand, easy to remember, and so easy to apply.

Have any readers considered that overly-simple gringo-Spanish rules might have caused your workers or store clerk to briefly look askance at you, and gotten you unexpected and sometimes frustrating results?
. . .
Unfortunately, expat assumptions that “o” endings means masculine & that “a” endings means feminine, is a major cause of eye-rolling by knowledgeable Spanish speakers. Casual gringo usages of “el” and “la” also raise myriads of misunderstandings between good-intentioned gringos and their Spanish/Mexican listeners.
Briefly consider how “a” and “o” and “á” endings right can get gringos into no end of problems:
Raya / Rayo (One is a stripe or scratch or Manta Ray, while the other is lightning)
La papa / El Papa (potato v. the Pope)
Papá / Papa (dad v. potato)
El cometa / La cometa (comet v. kite)
Mama / Mamá (breast v. mother)
. . .
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Check out http://yucalandia.wordpress.com/...gringos-the-article/ to read the rest, and see what suggestions and additions you can offer to my elementary effort.
Thanks,
steve
-
Read-on MacDuff
E-visit at http://yucalandia.com



Rolly


May 12, 2012, 3:32 PM

Post #2 of 8 (9161 views)

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Re: [YucaLandia] La, El, "a", "o", and "á" endings

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It took my mouth a long time to get straight with el dia and la mano.

BTW Rayo is also a girl's name.

Rolly Pirate


Maesonna

May 12, 2012, 7:52 PM

Post #3 of 8 (9142 views)

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Re: [YucaLandia] La, El, "a", "o", and "á" endings

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Nice article.

I do think it’s all right to tell raw beginners, “most words ending with ‘o’ are masculine, most words ending with ‘a’ are feminine, two exceptions are la mano and el día, and later you will learn more exceptions.” To face your article in the early months of starting to learn Spanish would be rather daunting!

You asked for additional examples. These are what came to my mind:
One pair that I always have to think twice about is la rodilla/el rodillo (knee; rolling pin or roller, respectively).
Strangely, I don’t have the same trouble with rata/rato/ratón (rat; a while; mouse, respectively).
On the difficulty of telling the gender of nouns that end with neither ‘a’ nor ‘o’: la fuente / el puente.


Vichil

May 13, 2012, 12:05 PM

Post #4 of 8 (9113 views)

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Re: [YucaLandia] La, El, "a", "o", and "á" endings

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I find that the easiest way to learn a language is by ear, forget all the rules, the rules confuse me more than help me.
I learned German 3 genders mostly different from the French, speak French 2 genders, English no gender except for a few things and Spanish 2 genders not necessaraly the same as the French or German.
It is way too complicated to learn all the rules , go by the way it sounds and learn the words with their artical and an adjective.
Agua el agua fria
rata la rata brava
ratón el ratón sucio


La Isla


May 13, 2012, 2:32 PM

Post #5 of 8 (9104 views)

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Re: [Vichil] La, El, "a", "o", and "á" endings

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We all learn languages in different ways: Vichil learns by listening, and I need rules to orient myself to what I hear. Though, as I am here longer and longer I find that I can pick up clumps of correct language more easily than I could before, sometimes from listening and sometimes from reading.


mazbook1


May 13, 2012, 11:13 PM

Post #6 of 8 (9087 views)

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Re: [YucaLandia] La, El, "a", "o", and "á" endings

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Not enough people read my book! I've been saying this for 7 years and 4 editions now.

I think that the funniest thing that happened to me, back when I was a greenhorn, just learning Spanish, was to be corrected when I said, "No problemo," something commonly heard in Spanish-speaking New Mexico. First, I was gently corrected that it should be, "No problema," and thought to myself, NOW I've got this under control…until I used my new word, "problema", in a sentence. My lady (now my wife) thought it was hilarious that I began the sentence with, "La problema está…," and once she stopped laughing, instructed me that "problema" was masculine, rather than feminine.

Chagrined over this and various pronunciation issues, I set out on the several-year path to writing/publishing my little book, Enjoy México in Spanish, now enjoying its almost 8 years of continuous printings and soon to be on sale in the U.S. as a professionally printed and bound book (it's already available as an eBook).

Steve, You did forget the words where the spelling remains the exact same, but the gender (and often meaning) changes with a simple change from el to la or vice versa.


YucaLandia


May 14, 2012, 3:02 PM

Post #7 of 8 (9063 views)

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Re: [mazbook1] La, El, "a", "o", and "á" endings

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"Steve, You did forget the words where the spelling remains the exact same, but the gender (and often meaning) changes with a simple change from el to la or vice versa."

Hahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

I've thought about that (article) for 2 years, and now you tell me.... auuuuugh!


Actually, I had a small number of the double gendered nouns in Spanish - but now that my batteries are charged back up, I added a new section just for you, David.

I have no idea why I find this stuff fun, unless it is because a few gems pop up during research, that explain some past confusions caused by my mangled Spanish.
steve

-
Read-on MacDuff
E-visit at http://yucalandia.com


zaragemca

May 23, 2012, 11:02 AM

Post #8 of 8 (8921 views)

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Re: [YucaLandia] La, El, "a", "o", and "á" endings

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Greetings,there are a few words which could be use for any sex; La persona,- policia, (la, el), - paciente, (el, la), - mar, (el, la), etc. Gerry Zaragemca
International Club of Percussionists
 
 
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