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Wednesday, 05 December 2007

Fishing and flooding

Thanks for telling us about the colourful history of Elche, Silvia. I'd be grateful if you could also throw some light on the local dialect which you mentioned a few days ago. For example, is it in competition with the standard language? Is the use of it increasing or declining? What are some of its characteristic features? Do people use it for particular purposes, or in particular situations? Do they regard as a dialect or a language? And so on.

I'd also very much appreciate a recipe for a typical Spanish dish, such as paella. I've got very good memories of eating paella in Spain, though I'm afraid it wouldn't taste as good here, even if I could make it properly.

When you wrote "I’ve been working as an eventual in a shoe factory" did you mean you've been a temporary worker, or something like that?

I'm afraid my answers to your two questions will disappoint you. There's no particular quote that I live by, and I can't single out one film as my favourite. But I'm especially fond of films by Bergman and Tarkovsky. What about you? And maybe other readers have got a quote, or motto, that they live by?

Throughout most of its history, the mainstay of Łeba's economy has been fishing. It still is a fishing port, and that's how a sector of the population make a living. But nowadays tourism is the major source of income for the majority of the inhabitants. During the short summer season they run shops, bars, souvenir stalls and so on, but most of all they offer accommodation - in their own houses, in hotels, holiday homes, chalets, camp sites ..... The demand is insatiable, because Łeba is one of the most popular summer holiday resorts. The weather is rather unpredictable, but in July and August you can generally rely on having quite a lot of hot, sunny days.

Winter, on the other hand, brings storms. The first mention of Łeba in historical documents dates from the year 1286, and from then on there are numerous references to storms and floods. The worst disaster came in the 16th century, when a storm caused so much damage that the inhabitants were forced to abandon their homes and rebuild the town on a new site. All that remains of the original settlement is the ruins of the old church. Even so, the new town was at the mercy of elements until the 19th century, when breakwaters were constructed at the harbour entrance, and trees were planted on the lower slopes of the dunes to stabilise them.

Somebody asked if I could provide a photo of the dunes. Well, I do actually take quite a lot of photos, but using rather fossilised techniques and equipment, and the photos are usually in the form of slides, but I've found a print of the dunes, so I'll scan it and see how it looks.


There you are. This view is taken looking along the dunes, with the sea on one side and a lake on the other. The dunes move and change shape noticeably from year to year. There are various possible ways of translating the name that expresses this - you can say moving dunes, or mobile dunes, but the one I prefer is 'wandering dunes'.

By the way, some of you probably don't know that the Ł at the beginning of Łeba is pronounced like an English W.

Thanks a lot, everyone, for your comments, good wishes, questions and suggestions. I'm afraid I won't be able to answer all of them - there wouldn't be enough hours in the day. To deal with a few very briefly: I come from Leeds, I'm just over half a century old, and yes I do drink tea with milk. I first came to Poland in 1981, just to have a look, found that I liked it, visited again a few times during the 1980s, and came to live here in 1991. It's funny to hear Polish spoken everywhere in Britain now - who would have thought?

Ana says she'd like to see a photo of me as a baby taken outside our family house. That's rather a tough assignment, I'm afraid. But in any case, you wouldn't know whether or not the baby was me, would you?

Lina, you can find out more about the blogs by clicking on 'Welcome to our blogs' and 'How the blogs work'.

If you're still not sure about the answers to any of my questions, check with Silvia's previous blogs - her answers were almost all right, so I won't repeat them here. Some of you had some good alternative suggestions, though:

a) I'd appreciate it if you help me .....
b) I'd like to ask for your help with .....
c) I hope you will extend your efforts for the completion of my research project.
(possible, though very formal)
d) I'd be grateful if you help me .....
e) I'd be grateful to you for helping me .....

In a) and d), though, it's more common to add a modal in front of 'help'. I don't think there's any real difference between could and would in this case. In speaking, the choice is actually between could and 'd - it's more usual to use a contracted form unless you want to emphasise the word, or to sound especially formal.

Other tentative ways of asking delicate questions:
I don't want to seem inquisitive, but...
I don't want to probe, but...
This / It might seem nosy, but...
You don't have to answer if you don't want to, but...
Don't feel obliged to answer, but ...
(not 'wouldn't') you mind if I ask/ asked you...
I hope you won't be offended if I ask you ...

Possible word orders for the 'cabalgata' sentence:
(If you don't know what 'cabalgata' is, you'll find the explanation in Silvia's blog.)

A “cabalgata” takes place that evening in every city.
A “cabalgata” takes place in every city that evening.
That evening, a “cabalgata” takes place in every city.
In every city, a “cabalgata” takes place that evening.
In every city, that evening, a “cabalgata” takes place.
That evening, in every city, a “cabalgata” takes place.

In every case, as you can see, the subject 'cabalgata' comes before the verb 'takes place'. Spanish word order is more flexible than English in this respect.

Here's something similar:

"..... the city was granted the title of Colonia Julia Ilice Augusta, a high status that just had the cities of Ilice (Elche) and Valentia (Valencia) ....."

To an English reader, this looks as if 'a high status' is the subject and 'the cities .....' is the object:

a high status - had - the cities

But of course it's the opposite:

the cities - had - a high status

So the sentence should read:

..... the city was granted the title of Colonia Julia Ilice Augusta, a high status that only the cities of Ilice (Elche) and Valentia (Valencia) had .....

More answers from last time:

Everybody wants to be the one who has the best car.
Everybody wants to be the one with the best car.

To say something that is exactly right or appropriate = to hit the nail on the head.

Life and sole….Yes, sole (the bottom part of a shoe) and soul (as in 'body and soul') are homophones (i.e. they have the same pronunciation) and if someone is the life and soul of the party, it means they're the one who makes a party or other gathering fun, lively, entertaining, successful etc.

We usually think of homophones being single words, e.g.:
sea / see
check / cheque / Czech

But there are loads of homphone phrases, too, e.g.:
a mall / 'em all
Where's the waiter? / Is this the way to the beach? / Just wait a minute.

Weather report (from a weathery port):
Improving, occasional glimpses of sunshine through the clouds.



Hello Jonathan, what a wonderful photo of the wandering dune. I have never visited Poland but I think it would be worth to do so. The twin town of the village I live is Pniewy, it is near Poznan.The parish organized every second year a visit in Pniewy and the next year, a group of Pniewy visit our village.Perhaps it will be a possibilty... So long

Hello Jonathan! Thank you for posting the dune picture. It´s very beautiful indeed :-). Oh, I also prefer to say wandering dunes. It sounds more poetical :-). Oh, it´s so funny to read about your fossilised techiniques. Anyway, the picture is great!:-) Well, I don´t have a quote that I live by. However, when I´m facing unjust situations and I think nothing works well, I like to remember a Nietzche quote which says: "That which does not kill me makes me stronger". My sister once has given me a birthday card with this quote. These words have had a powerful impact on me, and since than I keep it in mind. By the way, I like Bergman´s films too. I´ve never seen a Tarkovsky film. Are the Tarkovsky´s films similar to Berghman´s films? Could you please recommend me one of his films? I´m really interesting in knowing about films and directors. Actually, I love films. See you soon, Ana Paula.

HI,Jonathan I am very happy for you because the weather has been improving .I understand how unhappy when the weather is miserable and wet.Whenever I complain about the bad weather my friends,who are from Lincolnshire, always say " you musn't grumble about the weather".I don't know why they keep saying that.I just guess it is one of old saying in the area.When I was studying the homophones in your today's blog it reminds me a joke. I was studying for an exam of EFL with a group of people including some teenagers.One day,the group of teacheR asked us what meant "homophones".one of teenagers raised his arm and shouted loudly "abbreviation of homosexual people's phone". The people laughed their head off and it was one of memorializing and funniest English lessons in my life.Thank you for your great help and have a wonderful day.

Dear Jonathan, the view of the dunes is stunning and the clouds in the picture look rather supernatural, as if it were a photo of the landscape of a deserted planet with a very unsteady atmosphere. Anyway, I had actually thought about how I was going to know wether the baby in the photo would be you. I decided that I would be happy with any photo, oblivious of the fact that the baby was not you and probably not even a boy. Sincerely, Ana P.S. Thank you for telling us the story of Leba. With it, I am gaining an insight into the life and history of the town. I have always found it interesting to learn something new about the world surrounding us.

Thanks for all your contributions. This blog has now closed and can no longer accept new comments.

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