Mighty Red Pen

February 13, 2007

La pluma roja

Filed under: Grammar goddess — mighty red pen @ 7:20 pm

A very special bilingual edition of MRP.

Some copy came across MRP’s desk the other day in which the words “agua amarilla” (yellow water) appeared. Since my approach to editing Español is much like my approach to editing English — totally intuitive — it “seemed” right to me and I passed it along.

It came back from another editor with a note, “Is agua masculine or feminine?” meaning: is it agua amarilla (feminine) or agua amarillo (masculine)?

Quite certain that “agua amarilla” was correct, I realized that it was nonetheless “el agua” versus “la agua.” Stumped, I enlisted the help of Amiga X. (may or may not be her real initial) whose Español is the way more the real deal. She was stumped, too.

She came up with the answer the next day and it’s a good one: agua is feminine, but because it starts with a vowel, it takes the article “el,” even though that’s masculine.

A quick look in the dictionary confirmed this little conundrum. And the resulting glee confirmed that David was right — grammar can be fun in lots of languages (I’ll take his word for it about Latin, though).


1 Comment »

  1. Holla!

    A shout out from the MRP Herownself to me!

    I’d like to thank God, who speaks only Latin and Hebrew (and sometimes biblical Greek) for making it a requirement for me to learn His languages. I’d also like to thank my Mom for making me taking a language in High School. But most of all, this is the result of the dedication of Mrs. Doris Kays, my High School Latin teacher, and Prof. Paul Alessi, who taught me to read Ovid in the original so as to discover more of the dirty puns.

    Thank you, too, to all the fans of my instructive rants on the use and misuse of Latin. You have made it all so worthwhile!

    You like me! You really, really like me!

    Comment by David — February 15, 2007 @ 4:17 pm | Reply

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