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Spanish grammar mistake

A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

Postby Brazilian dude » Sat Apr 23, 2005 3:53 pm

Nope, that's not the one.

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Postby Apoclima » Sat Apr 23, 2005 4:06 pm

En realidad es de Nacho Cano, el ex integrante del grupo Mecano. Trabajan con niñas de la calle. Les dan de comer, por supuesto, para enseñarles y cuidarles su educación.


It is el Grupo Mecano (singular), but the verbs that follow are all in the plural.

A very common mistake even among native speakers, like "la gente son.."

Ah, ha!

el propio hambre

Bad gender bender

El hambre (f)

La propia hambre

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Postby Brazilian dude » Sat Apr 23, 2005 4:29 pm

A very common mistake even among native speakers, like "la gente son.."

La gente son is indeed a mistake (there have been examples of this construction in high literature, though), but the one in the intervieuw is a different case. I'll transcribe what I have in Andrés Bello's Gramática de la Lengua Castellana:

En virtud de la figura llamada silepsis toma a veces el adjetivo el género que corresponde al sexo de la persona, cuando ésta es designada por un sustantivo de géreno diferente.
"¿Veis esa repugnante criatura,
Chato, pelón, sin dientes, estevado...?
(Moratín)
Chato, pelón, estevado, conciertan con hombre, idea envuelta en criatura.
Por silepsis concertamos siempre los títulos de merced, señoría, excelencia, majestad, etc., con la terminación adjetiva que es propia del sexo, excepto la que forma parte del mismo título, la cual concuerda con él: "Su alteza Serenísima ha sido presentado a su Majestad Católica, que está muy deseoso de verle" (I would have said verlo, but oh well).

Otra aplicación de la misma figura es a los colectivos de número singular, los cuales pueden concertar con un adjectivo o verbo en plural, concurriendo dos requisitos: que el colectivo signifique colección de personas o cosas de especie indeterminada, como número, multitud, infinidad, gente, pueblo, y que el adjectivo o verbo no forme una misma proposición con el colectivo. Faltaría por ejemplo, el primer requisito, si se dijera: "Habiendo llegado el regimiento a deshora, no se les pudo proporcionar alojamiento", porque regimiento significa colección de personas de especie determinada, es a saber, de soldados; y por falta del segundo no sería permitido decir: "El pueblo amotinados", la gente hubieron". Al contrario, reunidas ambas circunstancias se diría bien: "Amotinóse (actualmente: amotinose*) la gente, pero a la primera descarga de la tropa huyeron desparavoridos".

El hambre (f)

La propia hambre

You got it! Very common mistake indeed. I remember there's a song by Shakira that goes something like todo el agua del planeta instead of toda el agua del planeta (here the mistake sounds better than the correct form, heheheh, at least to me).

*Nota del transcriptor
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Postby Apoclima » Sat Apr 23, 2005 10:10 pm

Thanks, BD, for the explanation. Fantastic!

silepsis — syllepsis: breaking grammatical concordance due to conceptual meaning


Un Glosario de Términos y Figuras Literarios

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Postby tcward » Sat Apr 23, 2005 10:47 pm

Apoclima wrote:
En realidad es de Nacho Cano, el ex integrante del grupo Mecano. Trabajan con niñas de la calle. Les dan de comer, por supuesto, para enseñarles y cuidarles su educación.


It is el Grupo Mecano (singular), but the verbs that follow are all in the plural.


I see this as similar to saying The choir is going to sing a special anthem today, and they are going to be disappointed if you can't be here to hear it.

We all know that 'choir' is a singular noun, but it is an entity comprised of many people.

I also see this as similar to the British practice of saying things like The US government are planning a military strike today...

At least I think I've heard the Brits say such things.

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Postby Brazilian dude » Sat Apr 23, 2005 10:52 pm

You got it, Tim.

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P.S. On the other hand, saying El gobierno están planeando una huelga militar hoy would be something hideous.
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Postby Apoclima » Sat Apr 23, 2005 11:24 pm

'Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination.' -Max Planck
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Postby Brazilian dude » Sun Apr 24, 2005 8:39 am

I second that.

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Postby Flaminius » Sun Apr 24, 2005 8:51 am

It's just a line of demarcaction drawn a bit oddly. I am just wondering, if "The govenment are" is strange, why supporters of Americanisms have no problem with "The people are" or "The cattle are"?

I think previous posts suggest that the distinction of collective noun is still relevant in British English, whereas it has stopped being productive in American English.

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Postby gailr » Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:39 pm

Tim
I also see this as similar to the British practice of saying things like The US government are planning a military strike today...

At least I think I've heard the Brits say such things.

My favorite usage of this type occurs in sports coverage: Argentina are playing West Germany.


Flam
It's just a line of demarcaction drawn a bit oddly. I am just wondering, if "The govenment are" is strange, why supporters of Americanisms have no problem with "The people are" or "The cattle are"?

I think previous posts suggest that the distinction of collective noun is still relevant in British English, whereas it has stopped being productive in American English.
A word such as "the government" is perceived as an impersonal entity in and of itself, rather than as a collective comprised of fellow citizens. In the same way, "the corporation" is an impersonal entity in itself rather than a collective of employees. Thus, the government is..., the corporation is..., yet the people are.

A word such as "cattle", on the other hand, does not raise spectres in the American mind of an amorphous, possibly dangerous, uber cow. Instead, it retains its sense of multiple bovines; the cattle are.

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Postby Flaminius » Tue Apr 26, 2005 4:14 am

How about the following pair?

The government are corrupt.
This government are efficient.

Does either of the two look odder than the other?
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Postby tcward » Tue Apr 26, 2005 7:12 am

Nope, they both look odd.

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Postby Apoclima » Tue Apr 26, 2005 8:22 am

How about this pair?

The elite is erudite, yet decadent!

Yet the erudite are elite!

Again, as is often the case, the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis is assumed (for reasons of appearance), while no thought is given to the fact of habit and convention first.

You might assume that Canadians believe that "hospital" is some sort of vague place (like hell or heaven) where people go when they are sick, rather than a particular place in the city!

"Where is Dad?"

"Well, son, he's gone to hospital!"

"No, not hospital!"

"Yes, I'm afraid so, hospital!"

"No particular hospital, Mum!"

"No dear, just hospital, some great big amorphous hospital right outside of healthfulland, there only very sick people go!"

"Oh, yes, hospital!"

"Can I see him, Mum?"

"Only if you want to go to hospital, too, son?"

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Postby Flaminius » Tue Apr 26, 2005 12:53 pm

Sitra Apo, you are a riot!
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I need Spanish grammar help...

Postby De donde sos vos? » Sat Apr 08, 2006 11:46 am

I've been teaching myself Spanish. I've been told by a friend that my husband (a native speaker) speaks Spanish incorrectly, so I can't necessarily imitate what he says.

I know "gente" is supposed to be singular, and he usually uses it that way. But when it's followed by a plural noun, he makes it plural.

"La gente es inteligente."
BUT
"La gente son estudiantes."

Is this usage incorrect?

Please help. I'm confused.

Thanks.
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