Thursday 17 June 2021

Botar or Votar: To Costa Ricans Language is a Strugggle

Only in a Spanish-speaking country — or maybe a French one — would one find oneself looking over his or her shoulder when writing. But, believe it or not, this otherwise democratic country (Costa Rica) makes it illegal to write bad Spanish. The law was introduced in the late 1970s even as a Nicaraguan dictator was threatening to invade this country.

spellingmarktwainThose lawmakers were sure they knew what was right and proper. They would be gratified to know that more than 40 years later, their Commission the Protection of Spanish (Law 7623) is alive and well and on error patrol.

The Defense of the Costa Rican Spanish Language and Indigenous Tongues was finally passed in 1996. It states that each canton should have a commission appointed to watch for misspelling and other awful ills. The Commission for Alajuela is made up of philologists Marcos Bravo and Flora Jara; and writer Ani Brenes.

- Advertisement -

They aren’t youngsters admonishing their elders, either — Bravo is 59, Jara is 78 and Brenes is 62, and they are stern, if unpaid. They meet every two weeks where they lay out their findings. First comes a verbal admonition then a written document. If the offender ignores the warnings, they can only nag–like so many Costa Rican laws, the deputies neglected to include a penalty.

English speakers may scoff, how dangerous is a skidding written word? Well, they started with the word “alajuela,” boldly made of free-standing, three dimensional waist-high plastic letters in Costa Rica’s second city near Juan Santamaria Park.

Oh the horror! It lacks a capital “A” as any literate person can tell and don’t try to tell them it was done that way for artistic license. Wrong is wrong but they thankfully don’t have the power to burn anyone at the stake for it.

Want more terrors? Just steps away, signals La Nacion, is Carlos Luis Fallas Boulevard. Except that it is on the sign in French, “boulevard.” Naughty, naughty! The word in Spanish is “bulevar.” You see, Costa Ricans prefer to cut to the chase and forget a terminal consonant. Even if it is written, they still neglect to pronounce it. And Spanish as a language tends to back them up.

- Advertisement -

This makes Emglish, a huge amorphous blob of a language, extremely difficult for Spanish speakers to learn properly. Add in the rapidly changing idiomatic phrases and slang and you have a real nightmare for the novice.

One commonly mistaken word is “botar,” to throw away. Since Costa Rican style is to make no distinction between the “b” and the “v” sounds, sort of falling into the crack between sounds. In Escazu, there was a vacant lot with an elaborate sign, as well made as any street sign, that said “No vote basura.”

Unfortunately, this translates as “do not vote garbage,” instead of advising not to throw garbage in the lot. This reporter wanted to dig up the sign as a guide for lawmakers one dark night and plant it as a warning at the Legislative Assembly. His wife wouldn’t let him…

To Costa Ricans, language is a strugggle. They learn English so they can “defend themselves” in that language, as if they were entering battle. With English spelling as it is, one can sympathize with them.

Source: iNews.co.cr

- Advertisement -

FACT CHECK:
We strive for accuracy in its reports. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, send us an email. The Q reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it’s accuracy.

Previous articleToday’s Photo
Next articleCosta Rica Nature
Q24N
Q24N is an aggregator of news for Latin America. Reports from Mexico to the tip of Chile and Caribbean are sourced for our readers to find all their Latin America news in one place.

Related Articles

[BLOG] Costa Rican Electric Company – General Maintenance Procedures

During my fifteen plus years of living in Costa Rica, I...

Heliport, Money and Weapons in Costa Rica

Following reports by residents of Las Asturias de Pococí about flyovers...

MOST READ

Today’s Vehicle Restriction June 17: 7 & 8 CANNOT circulate

Today, Thursday, June 17, vehicles with plates ending 7 & 8 CANNOT circulate The measure is countrywide and applied between 5:00 am and 9:00 pm,...

College of Physicians negotiates donation of a million and a half vaccines against covid-19

QCOSTARICA - This week there could be very good news for the country in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic if the College of...

Today’s Vehicle Restriction: June 12, “ODDS”

Today, Saturday, June 12, only ODDS can circulate. The measure is countrywide and applied between 5:00 am and 9:00 pm, save for those under the...

Ortega government accuses imprisoned opponents of receiving money from the United States to overthrow him

TODAY NICARAGUA – The Nicaraguan government assures that the imprisoned political opponents detained on charges of “inciting foreign intervention” are “usurpers” financed by the...

On Monday the vehicle restriction will change, again

QCOSTARICA - In times of pandemic, things change constantly, especially when it is necessary to tighten the belt to reduce the contagion of covid-19. The...

Construction companies that paid alleged bribes would be disqualified for ten years

QCOSTARICA - If it is proven in a final judgment that they did pay bribes to Conavi officials, several companies could be disqualified from...

5.7 Quake jolts Costa Rica

2021-06-10 17:27:0.5, Magnitude: 5.76, Depth 10.0 km, Epicenter: 95.5 km Southwest Malpais de Puntarenas. The jolt was felt also in the Central Valley. No reports...

Cynthia Ann Telles named new U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica

QCOSTARICA - Today, U.S. President Joe Biden announced his nomination of Dr. Cynthia Ann Telles as United States ambassador to Costa Rica. According to the...

Direct flight will connect Guanacaste with Austin starting in November

QCOSTARICA - American Airlines announced that starting November 2, 2021, it will offer a direct flight between Austin, Texas and the Daniel Oduber International...

WANT TO STAY UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST!

Get our daily newsletter with the latest posts directly in your mailbox. Click on the subscribe and fill out the form. It's that simple!

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.