November 19, 2009

Teenagers need soccer!

(Note: Those of you whose eyes glaze over when I talk about languages - I'm looking at you, Wong/Muffinhead - should skip down to where you see the asterisks. There's cool stuff after that point and I'd hate for you to miss it because your eyes have glazed over.)

So today I was down in the basement of the SR center and I saw a pair of posters on the wall... the English version proclaiming, "Teenagers need calcium!" (why we have this in a preschool, I'm not sure) and its Spanish twin, "Los adolescentes necesitan calcio!" And I burst into hysterical giggles, because I'm a language nerd.

Perhaps I should explain.

"Calcio", which means "calcium" in Spanish, also happens to mean "soccer" in Italian (though it does mean "calcium" as well... I'm sure that would be confusing if we made an Italian poster to go with the other two).

For those of you who are curious (probably none of you, but oh well), the Italian name for soccer, "calcio", comes from the verb "calciare", which means "to kick". "Calcio" in Italian is also a noun in the sense of "a kick", as in "I gave him a swift calcio in the rear." I find this a bit less sensible than Spanish, which calls soccer "futbol" (foot + ball... not that complicated).

Really the ones who don't make sense are us Americans. (And that sentence.) Where do we get off calling it "soccer" when the entire rest of the world is pretty much calling it "football" (or at least nouning a verb related to kicking)? I mean, even in German - one of the weirder languages I've been exposed to - the game is called "Fußbol". (That weird B thingie sounds like an S, for those of you who don't speak German.)

And now for an end to the lingustic maundering and a beginning to me saying something slightly meaningful.


This afternoon I spent some time under an umbrella with a three year old girl that I don't particularly like. Sure, she can be sweet when she wants to be, but usually if I come home from work wanting to shake a child, she's the one.

It bears mentioning that we were indoors. Sitting on the floor. Under an umbrella.

"It's raining really fast!" she said to me. And she looked up at the umbrella, the and in the light filtering down through the ladybug pattern I could see that she had that look in her eyes... the one that adults don't get anymore unless they've been doing hallucinogenics. It's that look little kids get when they're seeing something you can't see. For her, it really was raining fast in that room.

"Wow, looks like it's raining pretty hard," I commented. "Is it making lots of puddles?"

"Yes," she said. "And mud. You better get on the chair so your butt doesn't get wet."

I got in the chair. Her hugely pregnant mother scowled at me for the ease with which I got off the floor. And the little girl climbed in my lap and held the umbrella over our heads, and together we watched the rain.

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