A bit about books and films
There's an old joke that goes like this: A woman's talking to her neighbour, and says "I've no idea what to buy my husband for Christmas." The neighbour suggests "Why don't you buy him a book?" and the first woman replies "No, he's already got one."
Of course, most people need more than one. Silvia, you wrote, a few days ago: "This Christmas I’ll give me a pair of books as a self-gift!" Do you mean "I'll give myself a couple of books as a present?" 'A pair of books' would suggest two books that belong together like a pair of shoes. Of course, 'a couple' doesn't necessarily mean just two - it could be three, or perhaps even more, if you get carried away in the bookshop and lose your sense of moderation, which is quite an easy thing to do.
I try to read a lot, although I don't always have enough time to devote to it, and I couldn't possibly single out one favourite author or one favourite book. But there are some authors I've been reading quite recently who spring to mind when I start thinking about books that have really impressed me:
Paul Auster (American) - compulsive reading, stories with labyrinthine twists and turns.
Kazuo Ishiguro (born in Japan but has lived in Britain since early childhood) with his characters who drift through the world without entirely making contact with it.
Olga Tokarczuk (Polish) - imaginative inventor of half-real, half-unreal worlds.
W. G. Sebald (German, but lived in England a large part of his life) - especially 'Austerlitz', which meanders imaginatively through the history and geography of modern Europe.
These are all recent writers. As regards older ones, I'd have to mention Kafka as being an all-time favourite. In fact, Ishiguro's 'The Unconsoled' is rather reminiscent of Kafka in a way.
What about Spanish-language writers? I really don't know many, but I'm very fond of Borges (Argentinian) who wrote short 'fictions' set in a fantastic variety of possible and impossible worlds.
Nowadays, for most people in Poland, 'going to the cinema' probably means going to a huge multiplex cinema in a shopping mall (when you've seen one, you've seen 'em all) showing the same films as all the other cinemas, predominantly the latest Hollywood blockbusters. It used to be different, but most of the older, smaller cinemas that used to show a more interesting, less commercial range of films have closed down.
Silvia, you wrote: "I’m a staunch supporter of Woody Allen, Tarantino and Hitchcock, among others." 'Staunch supporter' is a good collocation, but it doesn't really fit here, because Woody Allen and Tarantino don't really need your support to ensure their success, and Hitchcock certainly doesn't! You can be a staunch supporter of a football team, for example, or a politician.
Apart from Bergman and Tarkovsky, who I mentioned before, I could list dozens of other directors and films that have made a deep impression on me. Just a few that spring to mind are Fellini, Truffaut, Sergio Leone (especially 'Once upon a Time in America') and, among Polish directors, Wajda, Kieślowski, Zanussi .....
I also like Hitchcock, and Woody Allen (and he's a great admirer of Bergman, of course), though I think the quality of Allen's work varies quite a lot.
I like some of Almodóvar's films, especially the more recent ones. Apart from that, one Spanish film that really stands out in my memory is 'El Espíritu de la Colmena' ('The Spirit of the Beehive').
One recent and quite popular film that I thought was really good was 'Das Leben der Anderen' ('The Lives of Others'), and it's always a pleasure to discover cinematic gems from the past, such 'It's a Wonderful Life' (Frank Capra, 1946) which was on TV a few days ago.
I've also been very impressed by the few Iranian films I've seen, though I'm not very good at remembering the titles or the directors' names.
Anna Paula asked if there's any similarity between Tarkovsky's films and Bergman's. I suppose that for me the most fundamental similarity is that they're both true artists, not just film-makers. (Tarkovsky described making films as "sculpting in time".) Tarkovsky must have felt an affinity with Bergman - Tarkovsky's last film 'The Sacrifice' (original title, in Swedish, 'Offret') was made on the Swedish island of Gotland, where Bergman shot a lot of his films, and Tarkovsky enlisted the services of Sven Nykvist, Bergman's cinematographer, and Erland Josephson, one of Bergman's regular actors.
Mariela asked: "I don't know much about films but I believe Poland has a quite rich film history,(or quite a rich film history; [what is the difference]) is that so?" Well, it's certainly true, but what about the word order? When 'quite' means 'fairly, but not very' it usually comes in front of an indefinite article:
These are quite good shoes.
These shoes are quite good.
This is quite a good pair of shoes.
We also - though less commonly - use 'quite' to mean 'extremely, totally', but only with adjectives that have an extreme meaning; in this case, 'quite' comes after the indefinite article:
The cathedral is quite magnificent.
The cathedral is a quite magnificent building.
So "Poland has quite a rich film history" is both true and correct.
Silvia and Christine asked about Polish Christmas traditions. I'm not sure why there are 12 dishes - some people say it's because there were 12 apostles. And fasting (not eating at all) or not eating meat on important days is quite a widespread custom in Christianity and other religions. In Poland, which is 95% Catholic, people generally don't eat meat on Fridays. (And yes, I read and enjoyed 'Life of Pi'.)
Pary - I was interested to read that the Persian name for Poland is Lahestan. Is it connected with Lech, the legendary founder of Poland? Our dunes really are like a desert, as you say, but a very small one, of course! In fact, before and during the second world war, this area belonged to Germany, and the dunes were used as a training ground for soldiers preparing to fight in north Africa.
Mariela - You can say:
I don't know as much as you about Spanish literature.
I don't know as much as you do about Spanish literature.
I don't know as much about Spanish literature as you.
I don't know as much about Spanish literature as you do.
Anastasia - There are various types of pierogi in Poland as well - they can be filled with meat, or cheese and onion, and they can be boiled or fried. And you can say either of these:
..... but there are others too, as Silvia makes clear.
..... but Silvia makes it clear that there are others, too.
Marianna asked about the difference between 'the time of year' and 'this time of the year'. You use 'this time of (the) year' to mean the time when you're speaking or writing:
I'm always tired at this time of the year.
I'm always tired at this time of year.
You can use 'the time of year' to mean any time you're talking or writing about:
It's the middle of December, and it's unusually mild for the time of year.
It was the middle of June, and it was unusually cold for the time of year.
You also wrote, Marianna: "If there is any difference in meaning you don´t need bothering to answer my question." This should be:
If there is no difference in meaning you don't need to bother answering my question.
If there isn't any difference in meaning you don't need to bother answering my question.
You concluded that "your language is easy and complicated at the same time", and I suppose that's true!
That seems like a cue to turn to the sentences from last time. Here are some possible correct versions. I'm sure there are some other possibilities, too.
1 I always get mixed up when I have to write a sentence like that.
2 Thank you for the information [not 'informations'] about Warsaw; I know very little about it.
3 On this day [January 6th] folk groups drop in to the houses. ['used to' in the past, but not 'use to' in the present]
4 The scent (smell) of the orange blossom by/at night ..... [An 'odour' is an unpleasant smell.]
5 In Italy there is already a festive atmosphere....Christmas is coming!
6 It is impossible for us to stop/reverse the trend. / It is impossible for us to intervene in this matter.
7 Their factories sell quality shoes at a price that other producers cannot compete with.
8 Do you like jogging? So do I! / I do, too! / Me too!
9 Job cuts in the footwear industry are offset by [or: compensated for by] growth in construction and other industries, which may (will?) be a great relief for local inhabitants and a new ray of hope for a better future.
10 People are happy and that's what matters / that's what's important. / Above all, people are happy.
11 There are typical regional cakes. [We write 'there are', not 'there're'.]
12 Your explanation about the Valentian language was very interesting.
13 For Christmas I often cook a soup [.....] that is more than tasty. [better: that is really tasty]
14 I’m in completely in the dark about Christian culture.
15 There were even people sunbathing
16 It reminds me of other books.
I wrote: "And here's a mystery for you, if you like linguistic detective work: When I looked through my 10th December blog 'Trip to Warsaw', I noticed that I'd missed a word out of one sentence - can you spot where there's a word missing?"
The sentence is: "The word 'Romance' is ultimately derived from 'Rome' - it was used as name for a certain type of mediaeval literature, and that was the origin of the modern meanings of 'romance' and 'romantic'." And the missing word is 'a':
The word 'Romance' is ultimately derived from 'Rome' - it was used as a name for a certain type of mediaeval literature, and that was the origin of the modern meanings of 'romance' and 'romantic'. Rather difficult to spot - even for me!
You're so prolific, Silvia, it's hard to keep up with you. Tomorrow I'll write in reply to your last two postings.
Finally, a couple of pairs:
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