Lustful slips

My Spanish is pretty good, but when I’m tired I sometimes lapse into elementary mistakes. For instance last night the youngster was spitting out his green beans, to the horror of his grandmother, and I said ‘es que no le gustan los judíos’, which means ‘he doesn’t like Jews’. The lapse here was confusing the gender of the noun. The Spanish for green bean is judía, which, of course, is the feminine equivalent of judío, and could therefore be used as an adjective to describe a woman who is a Jew. But had I said ‘es que no le gustan las judías’ no-one would have interpreted this as meaning ‘he doesn’t like Jewish women’, since the context -him spitting out green beans would have rendered the meaning abundantly clear.

About 10 seconds later the conversation turned to NAMA. I started to talk about how the government had bought a massive property portfolio, and, speculating as to the content of that portfolio, suggested that it may have bought ‘unas cuantas mansiones lujuriosas’, which I meant to mean ‘a fair few luxurious mansions’. Problem is, lujurioso in Spanish is a false friend of luxurious in English, i.e. it looks as though it might mean the same thing, but it doesn’t. Lujuria in Spanish means lust, not luxury (lujo). So I ought to have said ‘mansiones lujosas’, when I said ‘lustful mansions’, and whilst the latter may very well be true, it was not quite what I was concerned with.


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August 2009
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