Of Verbs and Vampires/Sobre los Verbos y los Vampiros

There’s a verb for that. I’ve been thinking about time lately, or rather the lack of it. I failed to post earlier this month because March has been very stressful, work-wise, enough so that I worked the past two weekends. Last night I was so tired I vegged out by watching Breaking Dawn on DVD. I could go on about this movie and how confused I was by—among so many other things—Bella’s demeanor at her own wedding (was Kristen Stewart constipated?!)

So what, you may ask, does this have to do with verbs, in particular Spanish ones? The Spanish title of Breaking Dawn is Amanecer, which brings me (finally!) to another rambling discourse on the niceties of the Spanish language with regard to time. In a previous post, I mentioned el imperfecto, a past tense that doesn’t exist in English. Lately I’ve been pondering Spanish verbs that pertain to the time—or specifically—the light of day. In English, we use the word “dawn” as a noun or a verb, but there doesn’t seem to be a verb for dusk or twilight or nightfall.

Spanish has three specific verbs: “amanecer,” “atardecer,” and “anochecer.” (There’s also “alcarar” and “clarear,” which also mean “to get light,” but these could apply to skies after a rainstorm and are not tied to a specific time of day.) The first of the three verbs, “amanecer,” means “to dawn.” “Atardecer” and “anochecer” both mean “to get dark,” but the Spanish definitions draw a fine line between them. “Atardecer” is defined as “empezar a caer la tarde” (literally, “to begin the fall of the afternoon”) or “empezar el último período de la tarde” (“begin the last part of the afternoon”). “Anochecer” is defined as “empezar a faltar la luz del día” (“to begin to miss the light of day”).

All of these words can be used as nouns as well, e.g., dawn, sunrise, dusk, sunset, nightfall. What’s more, as verbs, they can be used to describe an action performed at these times. Thus, “Amanecieron bailando” (“They were still dancing at dawn”) and “Anochecimos camino a Lima” (“When night fell we were on our way to Lima”) and my own personal favorite, “Amaneció muerto” (literally, “He woke up dead”).

PS If you want to have a laugh and improve your Spanish, watch Breaking Dawn in Spanish with the Spanish subtitles on. It will still be a guilty pleasure, but with a little less guilt.

Con respecto al tiempo, el inglés no tiene la sutileza del español. He mencionada en una entrada anterior que el imperfecto no existe en inglés. Por ejemplo, no tenemos verbos específicos como “amanecer” o “atardecer” o “anochecer” para la transición del día a la noche y de la noche al día.

Estaba pensando en eso anoche mientras veía la película Breaking Dawn, que está traducida simplemente como Amanecer. Tengo que confesar que he leído todos los libros de la serie vampiro y ahora he visto todas las películas. Podría describir mi fascinación como un placer inconfesable. Yo sé que las series, como las papas fritas, no son buenas para mí pero no puedo resistirlas.

Anoche, cambié el idioma en el DVD y miré unas escenas  en español con subtítulos en español también. Era muy divertido y educativo y me aliviaba mi culpa un poquito.


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