After a few fun digressions let’s get back to looking at text we can find on the Internet and how that helps us look at restaurants in Spain. We’ll continue with just the text describing a restaurant (Mesón la Taberna) and compare that to how much ones learns in 642 days of studying Spanish. Recall that I mentioned earlier I wrote so code for tools of analyzing text which I use here.
Let’s try to get through the text and study how Spanish fluency is described by searching in Ponferrada and maybe the other restaurant connected with this website. So here’s all the text, from the main page and the Más Info for Mesón La Taberna with the Google translate for the English:
Legend: not Duo but Spanish, not Duo but specialized, in Duo but not with standard meaning. One portion of the text (under the see more) is exactly the same so I marked that out. All words emboldened have not been encountered in 102 Duo lessons, nearly two years of study.
|MESÓN LA TABERNA||MESÓN LA TABERNA|
|Antigua bodega de piedra y madera rehabilitada.
Cocina casera tradicional berciana, elaborada con los mejores productos de temporada que ofrece nuestra tierra.
|Old restored stone and wood cellar.
Traditional home cooking from Bercia, made with the best seasonal products that our land offers.
We have a complete Botillo every day of the year without the need for an order and a wide variety of tapas and traditionally made portions.
It also has a homemade menu of the day throughout the week.
|Más Info Page|
|TAPAS Y RACIONES||CAPS <huh> AND PORTIONS|
|La Taberna se encuentra en una antigua bodega del siglo XVII, construida en piedra y madera rehabilitada.||La Taberna is located in an old 17th century winery, built in restored stone and wood.|
|Cocina casera tradicional berciana, elaborada con los mejores productos de temporada que ofrece nuestra tierra. Disponemos de Botillo completo todos los días del año sin necesidad de encargo y de una amplia variedad de tapas y raciones de elaboración tradicional.
Cuenta también con menú del día casero durante toda la semana, y una amplia selección de vinos D.O. Bierzo.
|Traditional home cooking from Bercia, made with the best seasonal products that our land offers. We have a complete Botillo every day of the year without the need for an order and a wide variety of tapas and traditionally made portions.
It also has a homemade menu of the day throughout the week, and a wide selection of D.O. Bierzo.
|UBICACIÓN Y CONTACTO||LOCATION AND CONTACT|
|Para cualquier consulta, puedes llamarnos o enviarnos un email con los datos que aparecen arriba.||For any questions, you can call us or send us an email with the information that appears above.|
|Si quieres que lo hagamos nosotros, por favor, déjanos tu teléfono o email en este formulario y lo haremos lo antes posible.||If you want us to do it, please, leave us your phone or email in this form and we will do it as soon as possible.|
So this text contains 84 unique words of which 34 are not found in the first 102 lessons in Duolingo, IOW, I’ve learned 59.5% of the words used to describe this restaurant but do I understand? Another way of looking at that is it has taken me 12.76 days of study per word I know. At my rate of learning it would take 433 days to learn the remaining words, or a total 2.96 years – good luck with studying Spanish to teach you to read a menu.
So here’s what’s left:
amplia antigua aparecen berciana bierzo bodega botillo casera casero construida consulta datos déjanos disponemos elaboración elaborada email encargo enviarnos favor haremos llamarnos necesidad piedra productos raciones rehabilitada selección taberna tapas temporada tierra tradicional ubicación
So these four words are not really Spanish vocabulary or have English translation; these two words shouldn’t count (favor comes from por favor which is in any Spanish lesson); these four words are close enough to call cognates. Now using a little general knowledge learned from studying Spanish these two words (adjectives) have the same meaning, just different gender, so only need to learn one (homemade, which I’d learned from my previous menu study); these two words are verb infinitives that are in Duolingo with a so-called object pronoun affixed, something you’d learn by A2 Spanish. So that culls our list a bit to:
amplia antigua aparecen bodega casero construida consulta datos déjanos disponemos elaboración elaborada encargo haremos necesidad piedra raciones rehabilitada temporada tierra ubicación
Now a few of these are closely related to cuisine so if one had been just studying menus and looking words up (and remembered what you learn), you would know these words:
- bodega, a bit complicated for us in USA who encounter Spanish from Latin American influence, since we’d think of this as a small grocery store, but in Spain it much applies to winery, places where is stored (wine cellars) or specialized wine shop. Some restaurants have this in their name.
- casero is fairly common on menus and is derived from casa (home) to be homemade, or something made in the restaurant as opposed to bought from a supplier; this often applies (in menus) to postres (desserts).
- elaboración and elaborada are also often found in text explaining menus. elaboración is equivalent to its English cognate EXCEPT in the context of cooking it really refers to the overall process of generating the dish. For our general knowledge of Spanish we’d know elaborada is the feminine adjective for elabarado which is the past participle of the verb elaborar (to produce, make, prepare, devise) or then elaborated in English. But the meaning in terms of cooking is fairly specialized so knowing the English equivalent isn’t that helpful.
- encargo you, Dear Reader, should know if you’ve looked at my restaurant phrases page because in the restaurant context (often por encargo) it means on/by request where the dictionary literal translation is order (something ordered)
- raciones is quite common, especially in Basque Country, since it close to its literal meanings (ratio, portion) but usually a larger quantity of some small plate item (tapas) to be shared (para compartir in my phrases page) between multiple diners, usually in the center of the table; but look where this occurs in the prose above and the Google Translation and see if that makes any sense to you. But a Spanish class would take a long time to getting around to teaching the dining meaning of ración (btw, do you see the ó in the singular (did you know you could drop the -es), what’s that all about?)
- temporada and tierra are trendy restaurant terms everywhere which we could just call, seasonal or local. tierra is literally land/earth/soil (also EARTH) but it really implies something raised in the nearby countryside (although huerto or campo are also used for this)
So not that leaves us:
amplia antigua aparecen construida consulta datos déjanos disponemos haremos necesidad piedra rehabilitada ubicación
No so bad and some of these are likely to appear in future Duolingo lessons (or your choice of classes, say the equivalent of two years of high school Spanish). So between Duolingo AND Google Translation one can read most of this.
But there are two words in this text that have appeared in Duolingo but have a very different meaning here. Here’s one in context.
|Cuenta también con menú del día casero durante toda la semana.||It also has a homemade menu of the day throughout the week.|
Now cuenta is very important restaurant word (the check, as in la cuenta, por favor) but if you line words up with the Google translation you’ll see it corresponds to “it has” (también is the also so ignore it). But “it has” is very common and would be learned in baby Spanish as tiene (this is the third person singular conjugation of tener (to have) AND subject pronouns (it) are usually omitted in Spanish because they can be deduced from the conjugation (yes, this is all in beginner Spanish). But this didn’t make any sense to me (I guess I’ve learned something). If you look up cuenta in dictionaries you just get ‘bill’ but if you’ve been around the block a bit in Spanish you’ll notice this is a “stem changing” conjugation of an irregular verb, which I eventually guessed was costar which means “to cost” which still doesn’t make any sense.
So now another thing you might learn in classes, sometimes Spanish uses several words to mean something, like a veces (sometimes), a lo mejor (maybe), querer decir (to mean, weird since it is literal, to want to say). Or what came to mind for me is intentar is the infinitive for to try, but tratar de is also to try and that de is critical because tratar alone means to treat.
So an eureka moment, maybe costar and con together mean something else, and, behold, it does mean to count on, to expect, to anticipate. SO, wow, using my nearly two years of Spanish and so lookup try putting “also count on” into the Google translate instead of “it also has”. Makes a bit better sense, eh! So here’s at least one case I could not have improved the Google Translation (or even understood what was meant) without my study – hurrah, but to get one sentence in 638 days of work, pretty low yield.
And one I can’t figure out (possibly need to be B1/2 level)
|Si quieres que lo hagamos nosotros, por favor,||If you want us to do it, please,|
I was surprised to see I’ve had this word in Duolingo since I don’t know what it is. Well, this is a bit on me. Often Duo will only introduce a conjugated form in its drills, in this case, I would have seen haz and haga in the exercises. These come from the verb hacer (highly irregular, to do it, to make it): haz is the “command” (imperative mood in Spanish) for the informal you (tú), IOW, what you’d say to your kid (or spouse) DOIT!, haga is a bit more complicated, because it is: 1) DOIT to a formal/polite you (usted), like a waiter, but it’s also a conjugation of present tense in subjunctive mood (definitely well beyond beginner, no direct equivalent in English). Anyway, in the structure of my XML vocabulary so a verb, mood, tense word is introduced in Duolingo I put in the whole thing (in my notation that gets parsed into XML)
HACER (-, haz, haga, hagamos, haced, hagan) to do, to make (imperative)
Amusing Spanish has no word to tell yourself to DOIT, I wonder why, so that’s why I have -, where the yo conjugate should go). I had forgotten this since Duo has never used the nosotros conjugation in imperative, but my file is more complete. And sure enough Google translated it to DOIT, but it’s not the imperative DOIT, it’s the subjunctive one which is used in situations that may or may not happen, so when GT saw the si (if, and, not sí, yes) that triggered it to make this be subjunctive.
OK, that’s as far as I got, the total sentence, still doesn’t make sense to me, given it followed a fairly clear sentence.
Now as a side thing there is a “scam” (I believe a fair term) online to Learn 100 words in Spanish and you’ll know 80% of Spanish writings. Like English, or probably any language, a lot of small words get used a lot but actually carry little meaning in and of themselves (they may be critical in sentence construction). So here are the most common words (where I group some together, not because they’re the same (like el/la) but they have a similar role in prose.
|de (8) del (3)||11|
|y (8) o (3)||11|
|en (3) por (1) para (1) con (3) sin (1)||9|
|la (2) los (3)||5|
|un (1) una (3)||4|
The total number of words in this descriptive text (remember there are 84 unique words) is 129, but the simple words above are about half (65) but it is the less common words that really make the sense in this prose description of this restaurant.
Well, whew, this is even long for me! I can’t imagine anyone reading all this, but perhaps I will in a few years (especially if I have learned Spanish better and want to see my struggles) but it might give some hint of what one does need to know to interpret a menu (or just description of the restaurant).