Leyendo las bitacoras

In his Really Learn Spanish podcast, Johan van Rooyen gave some advice on increasing ones comprehension. He suggested that novices read entire novels written in Spanish without pausing to look up unfamilar words. That seems like a crazy suggestion because, especially at the beginning, you are reading books that mostly go by without being understood. I’m guessing that it works, though. I’ve been reading several weblogs in Spanish, including Xataka, and I almost never look up the unfamilar words. I’m now finding that I can always comprehend the gist of the article and can understand about 2/3 of the sentences word for word, with most of the other ones having a few words I don’t understand but can infer a meaning from context. The fact that many of the stories are ones I have seen from Gizmodo or Engadget doesn’t hurt.

In high school, I did a term paper on the novel A Clockwork Orange, which was also slow going because the narrative was written in the nadsat pidgin language. However, by the end you didn’t need to refer to the glossary at all because you had absorbed the vocabulary. Anthony Burgess did this by design, intending the experience of reading the novel to be akin to being brainwashed. I know the mechanism works, so here’s to turning it to my advantage.

I put novels in Spanish on my XMas list, but if I don’t get any I found that one of the branch libraries here has a Spanish language section. I’m torn between whether I should read Garcia Marquez’ Cien Anos de Soledad first or later. Probably I shouldn’t read it first, because I will get more out of it if I have tackled others first. I read it in English translation almost 20 years ago and was floored by it. That’s another bit of Latin culture that the Hernandez Brothers inspired me to explore from Love and Rockets. Gilbert had characters in Macondo turning each other to the novel, so I read it and found it one of the best novels I have ever read. I look very forward to experiencing its beauty and power in the original language.

Update: this was from a comment on this entry but is too funny not to put in the main entry. Apparently, by failing to put the tilde in the Garcia Marquez book title above, it translates to One Hundred Anuses of Solitude.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

5 thoughts on “Leyendo las bitacoras”

  1. Nicole Simon says:

    I hate looking up words in the dictionary, even if i am at my computer and have my favorite (and very good) translatin webpage available. I am waiting for the epaper where i just can pick a word with my finger and a bubble pops up telling me what it is.

    As for the reading through – the last book it really bothered me a little bit (but not enough to look them up) was the Harry Potter ones – because of all the names of herbs etc. Plus I am missing some of the fun because I don’t remember enough of latin to see what the spells are about, but hey what.

    This way – reading them through you get also meanings and which are complicated to learn – as I absolutly love That 70s Show, I still don’t have an idea how I would translate “buuuuuurn!” – but I do get it completly. And it only take one second to understand “to make out” in that context. ;o)

  2. Ron James says:

    You need to start including the tildes in the Spanish words in your posts. I wanted to see what the title of that Marquez book you mentioned was in English, and without the tilde over the ‘n’, Babelfish had it as “One hundred Anuses of Solitude”

  3. Jaime BŽátiz-Mendoza says:

    Hi, Dave. This is Jaime Batiz-Mendoza, from BloggerConIII. I just finished producing a new podcast in Spanish and I though you might want to hear about it: it’s about a Mexican living in the US (that’ll be me) and random thoughts and cultural facts. Now for the kicker: I record the same podcast in English also! I want to reach more people so I figured I had to record two versions of each episode. The site is located at http://www.batiz.org/hablemos at the top of the site you’ll find links to the rss feeds: one in Spanish, one in English.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Making mistakes Some serious grammar! Differences in Spanish across the world Dave Slusher is back…briefly Related links: The Real Academia Espa–ola ‘s has an excellent query answering service Dave Slusher leads a discussion on reading in Spanish

  5. Lloyd Griffiths says:

    has any one used comics or graphic novels,
    as a friend of mine leared french from “Asterix the Gaul” comics.(there are pictures to help the plot)
    I’m visiting the canaries in a soon and may get some.
    I’m a green beginer so is there any podcasts for us?

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