For those of us who translate professionally into Spanish, there are certain persons, like MartÃnez de Sousa, who make our lives easier. His manuals are among our most prized assets for several reasons: His explanations are clear, intelligent, and practical. Among others, he has a dictionary of doubts, an ortography, and a style manual where to find and dispell the doubts we were left with by the Academia.
I have been lucky enought to attend a 10-hour seminar on ortotypography imparted by him and organized/sponsored by Asetrad, and the seminar has not dispelled all my doubts (in fact, I have a full cartload of those), but I have loved returning to the atmosphere of listening to an intelligent person and learning from him/her, something that does not happen frequently in a field such as mine, where most communications and discussions are in written form.
Then, back at home, I realize that Spanish is a language of ellipses. In one of the mailing lists I subscribe to, there are some doubts on the gender of certain words in Spanish. What is the gender of “coche”? That’s easy, it’s masculine. But in reality it can be both masculine if we are talking about “un (coche) Ford”, “un (todoterreno) Ford”, etc., or femenine “una (furgoneta) Ford”, “una (camioneta) Ford”, etc. There is no possible doubt with the makers. Ford, Chrysler, Toyota or Ferrari are all femenine words, because we suppose “la (empresa/compaÃ±Ãa/casa) Ford, Chrysler, Toyota o Ferrari”.
And we end up landing in one of the thorniest words right now: Internet. First I check the dictionary of the Academia, which indicates that it can be both masculine and femenine, and that it’s usually written in caps, as a proper noun. I always think of the Internet as a femenine word and I realize the ellipsis is even larger: When I talk, I leave out (la red [de]) and I only utter its name, Internet, that becomes a proper noun.
:-) Who said Spanish was easy?