2014/08/16

Spanish noun-adjective semantic ambiguity

None of the immediate context enables one to say whether the South Tangier refugee relief committee was anxious to grasp Helena Maleno's breasts à la Egyptienne because they read her as a Spanish prostitute (adjective española classifies noun puta (restrictive)), or as a fucking Spaniard (adjective puta describes more fully the noun española (non-restrictive)):

Agredida una activista española en Tánger: "me tocaban las tetas al grito de 'puta española vete a Tindouf'"

Perhaps two contrasting groups of suitably clad and trained empirical sociologists could be sent to Boukhalef; maybe Twitter-mining would provide answers.

I also recall meeting with this difficulty in other Romance languages - for example, in Romanian. Perhaps this explains why you will never meet with Bucharest ladies in Tangier suburbs, although I'm told they're quite popular in regal Rabat.

Speaking in Saturday-morning self-pitying mode, I'd say that we anglocabrones are actually worse off: unlike in Spanish, we cannot rely on word order to indicate whether an adjective is restrictive or not; and we also suffer dreadfully from noun adjuncts (often leading to compulsive stacking) - will your Latin lover's talk lead to walk or chalk?

But my English grandma is a vague and distant memory, and I still retain a vague and distant hope that someone will clarify some of the confusion posted here.

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