Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Linguistic coinkydink of the day

Inspired by meeting a guy in the park who is successfully speaking to his daughter in Kurdish, I'm trying once again to only speak to Xan in Spanish. (Tomorrow I'm bringing home Cien años de soledad to read to him, pairing it perhaps with Alexander y el día terrible, horrible, espantoso, horroroso.) This morning, while playing on the floor, I put a plastic link in his mouth and asked him if it tasted good: "¿Sabe rico?"

Angela was doing something in the kitchen and a moment after I asked that question, she turned off the tap of the water. "What is the difference between 'to know' and 'to taste' in Spanish?"

I thought about that for a moment. "None, I think. Both are the word 'saber.'"

Which makes you wonder. Because right now, my son is getting to know everything by tasting it (or at least sticking it in his mouth). Mi hijo sabe porque sabe.

There has to be something etymologically interesting about this. (Is there a Spanish OED to trace the origins of these two words?!) Either that, or maybe Spanish is simply infantile?


julie said...

?Did you get the spanish book I sent "Buenas Noches, Luna?"
I almost sent a russian book too, but wasn't sure how many languages you guys are going to teach Xan at a time.
I just got back from Chile, btw. Wish I'd had you along. My spanish is pathetic.

hikaru said...

saber comes from the latin parent sapere, "to taste." its brother is the french savoir, "to know."

its english children are just as ambiguous as the spanish: "savor" and "sapient."

very different from the japanese wakaru, which means "to know" and "to cut." understanding based on differentiating the parts.