Sunday, 12 May 2013

Tell Me, Who Directed That Great Film?


Introduction
This post is about the practical use of the suffixes in general and more specifically the use of augmentatives.




SCENARIO
Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or a colleague. You are talking about films. You mention the title of a film you both agree is a fantastic film (a film you truly consider a masterpiece). The other person cannot remember the name of that film's director and says to you something like:: "tell me, who directed that great film?".

In Spanish, he/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿quién dirigió ese peliculón?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Dígame, ¿quién dirigió ese peliculón?


OUR TIP
The question is an invitation for you to say who the director of a particular film is. When you credit some work to a given person, you should not need to be concerned about the level of formality in the other person's question. You would only have to consider a more or less formal reply if the person you were crediting was also the person asking the question. Clearly, that should not be the case in this situation, so your main concern should be about saying the name of the director in question. An answer with just a name may suffice, but with little effort, your answer could be much more informative.

Here are some examples of how you could reply:
  • El director de ese peliculón* es Pedro Almodóvar (the director of that great film is Pedro Almodóvar);
  • Creo que el director de ese peliculón* es Alejandro Amenábar (I believe the director of that great film is Alejandro Amenábar);
  • Me parece que director de ese peliculón* es Steven Spielberg ( I think the director of that great film is Steven Spielberg);

Now you should practise replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿quién dirigió ese peliculón?

*Please see grammar topic below- suffixes/ augmentatives


Grammar-Suffixes



By suffixes we refer to a feature of certain languages which allows altering the meaning of words by changing some of the words' ending letters. An example of this feature is the English suffix -ist, which allows changes such as:



  • Piano → Pianist
  • Journal → Journalist
  • Trombone → Trombonist
  • Etc.

In addition to the above type of suffixes, there are suffixes in Spanish which are able to alter the meaning of words (usually nouns) by indicating, for example a larger/ smaller size than normal. The use of suffixes is very common in Spanish, especially in the spoken language.

This post deals with perhaps the three most common of types of such suffixes. These are:

    1. Augmentatives
These are words which, with the aid of a suffix have become enlarged/ bigger than the original word. The effect of using suffixes in this way is in some way the equivalent of placing the adjective “big” in front of a word in English. Often people use of these suffixes to convey a perception of something being truly outstanding. The more common of these suffixes are perhaps:
  • -azo/ -aza
  • -on/ -ona
  • -ote/ -ota

Some examples of the use of these suffixes are:
  • Coche (car) → Cochazo (big car);
  • Jarra (jar/ jug) → Jarraza (big jar/ jug);
  • Jarro (pitcher/ jug) → Jarrón (big pitcher/ jug);
  • Casa (house) → Casona (big house);
  • Abrazo (hug) → Abrazote (big hug);
  • Cabeza (hug) → Cabezota (big head);


    2. Diminutives
These are words which with the aid of a suffix have become smaller than the original word. The effect of using suffixes in this way is in some way the equivalent of placing the adjective “little” in front of a word in English. Often people use of these suffixes to convey a feeling of affection or even child-like candour. The more common of these suffixes are:
  • -cecito/ -cecita
  • -cito/ -cita
  • -illo/ -illa
  • -ito/ -ita

Some examples of the use of these suffixes are:
  • Pie (foot) → Piececito (little foot);
  • Luz (light) → Lucecita (little light);
  • Café (coffee) → Cafecito (little coffee);
  • Coche (car) → Cochecito (little car);
  • Carro (cart) → Carrillo (little cart);
  • Cuchara (spoon) → Cucharilla (little spoon);
  • Juan (John) → Juanito (little John);
  • Juana (Joan) → Juanita (little Joan);


    3. Pejoratives
These are words which with the aid of a suffix have their meaning degraded in some way. Often people use of these suffixes as a means conveying a derogatory meaning about something. There are many suffixes of this type. Some commonly used ones are are:
  • -ucho/ -ucha
  • -uzo/ -uza

Some examples of the use of these suffixes are:
  • Pueblo (town) → Pueblucho (drab dead end town);
  • Casa (house) → Casucha (dirty little house);
  • Gente (people) → Gentuza (rabble/ scum/ trash);

Now you should practise the use of suffixes with some examples of your own.

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