Sunday, 29 January 2012

Before the Fallas.

Falleras pose at the City of Arts and Sciences (La Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias), Valencia.

 Most people know about the Fallas. The pyrotechnic madness that engulfs the city of Valencia between the 15th and 19th of March every year, with the giant 'Fallas' statues burning at midnight on the 19th, the feast of San José.
But did you know that there's a lot more to Fallas than that? In November, the new Falleras start their processions (desfiles) for the first (but by no means the last) time. Falleras are the respresentatives of each Falla (club), and wear traditional Valencian costume. Most Falleras are female although there are always a number of boys/men as well. Speaking to a number of parents of Falleras in our school, we've learned that an 'average' Fallera dress costs 3 or 4 thousand euros, but that you can pay a lot more than that for the finest silk.
Avoid the crowds. Local residents enjoy the parade of Falleras infantiles in Burriana.
We stumbled upon this procession of Falleras infantiles in Burriana, out for the first time in their finery. If you're travelling in the Valencian community any time between November and March, it's worth enquiring at the local oficina de turismo to see if there is a parade in the offing. 
It can take many hours to prepare for the big moment.
Remember, Valencia isn't the only town/city to do Fallas. Many of the other towns in the Comunidad Valenciana are also involved. The crowds are much smaller and the atmosphere more 'Spanish' without the hordes of tourists. Check out towns such as Gandia, Oliva, Dénia, Benidorm, Burriana, Vall d'Uixó, Benicarló and others, to escape the masses of tourists and experience a smaller, but more authentic Fallas.
It might only be November, but it's still a big day for these young Falleras.

A note on pronunciation: Spanish has some very simple, but elegant rules on pronunciation. One of the easiest mistakes to make is to pronounce 'll' as we would in English. In Spanish, 'll' makes a sound like an English 'y'. Try saying 'Fly-ass' with the stress on the 'fly' but don't make the 'l' sound. Now you can say Fallas perfectly.
As for Falleras, try saying 'Fly-air-ass', again without the sound of the 'l', but this time stress the 'air' syllable. Beautiful! 
(The Falleras, that is, not my Spanish accent!) 

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Saturday, 14 January 2012

Some things are better left untranslated

This sign hangs outside a gymnasium near where we live. Ho ho, very funny, but it got me thinking... about Spanish pronunciation (we all have our little quirks). 
I couldn't help noticing how disappointing it was that the 'joke' sort of failed because in Spanish it wouldn't be pronounced the same as it is in English. The 'Arse' bit, would in fact be pronounced ar-seh, as the 'e' is always sounded in Spanish, unlike in English.
'Gym' doesn't travel seamlessly from English to Spanish (and vice-versa) either. In Spanish it would be heem, with a bit of Scottish throat-clearing at the beginning. So, the very Anglo-Saxon Arse Gym, ends up being Ar-seh hhheem, in Spanish. Such a shame!

But, don't despair! There is a bit of humour to be had once you've gone through to departures at Palma de Mallorca airport. For there, you can enjoy a café con leche or a bocadillo de jamon at a rather splendidly named cafetería.
Sadly, while the Spanish pronunciation is pretty near perfect for our chuckling English ears, the spelling does spoil the fun again. But never mind. Now, what was the name of that cafeteria? 

Oh yes...

Chocolate cake, anyone?

If you like the blog why not read the eBook? Zen Kyu Maestro, An English Teacher's Spanish Adventure available from Amazon. 
For a free sample chapter, click HERE.