Absolutely English .vs. Holeness Spanish

By | 2006-08-08

English language is more formal than Spanish. You should say/write every single word of a sentence, avoiding “ellipsis” (leave out words). On the other hand, Spanish language uses a lot of ellipsis. An easy example:

“I was cooking a paella, when she saw me, and {she} asked me {if I could} teach {her how} to cook {paella}”

In English you usually say all the words, and if you forget to say one probably the other person ask you about the meaning. In Spanish you can say the previous sentence without all the braced words, and your listener will understand you perfectly. It’s an economic way to use the language, quicker; but it doesn’t mean it’s better, because we have a lot of ambiguities. Sometimes having these ambiguities causes problems, but sometimes they are usefull (when you don’t really want to say anything, or you want to hide the real meaning of something which you don’t want to show).

Anyway, this week my head is playing with the thought: “I (or we, Spaniards) do a strong use of the context information”. This is quite interesting, because I discovered a lot of situations, while speaking with English people in English, where I don’t really need to understand every single word they say. I strongly use the context information to guess, in an automatic way, what they are going to ask me. In fact, sometimes I answer instantly, without a real process of thinking and understanding. I’m not sure if this is good or bad… have I a lazy brain or a wise one? It’s disturbing when sometimes I’m not sure if the stuff I just understood comes from a good listening or from a good context guessing. How weird!!