A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never is, but always To be Blest.
Alexander Pope

As Rosemary and I walked up to our front door after a morning with the doctor (X-rays for me again, could it be that "ambulatory" pneumonia again?) I was hit by the fragrance. I wrote about it here last year. But the rush of pleasure was more intense. I thought I had lost, because of a cold, my sense of smell (taste, and I am deaf in one ear). This time around I thought of one of the most beautiful words in Spanish, esperanza which is Spanish for hope. While I have known some women called Hope, Esperanza is a much more frequent name in Spanish and I have known several Esperanzas, all lovely simply because of the mystique and the magical qualities of the name.

When Rebecca was indulging in much too much TV on Saturday (those twins that drive the black hotel manager crazy) I waited for the program to finish and brought her into the living room. I explained to her that we use some words so frequently that after a while we forget the often beautiful meaning behind the word. I gave as an example, breakfast (desayuno) and told her of the original religious meaning of the word. I am from a Roman Catholic generation that had to worry about not eating for at least 6 hours (a special dispensation of the 50s) before having Communion on a Christmas Eve midnight Mass when I was 9 or 10. From breakfast I pointed Rebecca to another word share and how much more beautiful share it in Spanish. The word compartir in Spanish (from the Latin) means to literally break bread with someone. Esperanza also comes from the Latin and it means to wait. Espera (and all those complicated Latin declentions) brings the idea of a woman who waits and that is why Esperanza is such a beautiful name for a woman. While many men get away with being called José María (Joseph Mary) in Spanish the use of Esperanza as an epicene name is not usual, alas!

That intense scent of Sarcococca gave me esperanza (certainly not the English version of hope) that spring is on its way and I am heading towards recovery. It made me think of so many more wonderful words, whose meanings just might enlighten Rebecca's mind.


esperanza. (From the Dictionary of the Real Academia Española)

1. f. Estado del ánimo en el cual se nos presenta como posible lo que deseamos.

2. f. Mat. Valor medio de una variable aleatoria o de una distribución de probabilidad.

3. f. Rel. En la doctrina cristiana, virtud teologal por la que se espera que Dios dé los bienes que ha prometido.

~ de vida.

1. f. Tiempo medio que le queda por vivir a un individuo de una población biológica determinada. Para los recién nacidos coincide con la duración media de la vida en dicha población.

alimentarse alguien de ~s.

1. loc. verb. Esperar, con poco fundamento, que se conseguirá lo deseado o pretendido.

dar ~, o ~s, a alguien.

1. locs. verbs. Darle a entender que puede lograr lo que solicita o desea.

llenar algo la ~.

1. loc. verb. Corresponder el efecto o suceso a lo que se esperaba.

qué ~s.

1. loc. interj. Cuba, Méx. y Ven. U. para indicar la improbabilidad de que se logre o suceda algo.

□ V.


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