Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Clean the woods of the east

The previews before the movie last night reminded me of an anecdote: In the summer following my junior year of high school, I went to Esparraguera, Spain to live with a family for a month. I returned two years later to spend two more weeks with the same family. One day on that second trip, AJ (my "host brother") and I were walking around the neighborhood visiting his friends. We came upon the house of J, and he came out to engage in some idle chit-chat. At some point, the conversation drifted to Clint Eastwood. J asked me, "Why anyone would name their child "limpiar el bosque del este"? AJ laughed--apparently this was a familiar joke to him. I was confused and struggled for a minute to understand why they were all of a sudden talking about cleaning the woods of the east.

Then it hit me. It was obvious they were turning "Eastwood" into "el bosque del este," but they also apparently had been mispronouncing "Clint" as "kleen" (in Spanish, "i" is pronounced like the "ee" in "green," and since "nt" is not a standard word ending, "nt" would likely be pronounced "n"; thus "Clint" became "kleen"). Thus, I figured, their knowledge of the meaning of the English word "clean" and their pronounciation of it as "kleen" must have led them to think that "Clint" and "clean" were homophones. So they thought "Clint Eastwood" was said the same to them as "Clean Eastwood." Since "clean" is English for "limpiar," it would then be an obvious cross-linguistic play-on-words to refer to the American actor as "limpiar el bosque del este," or "clean the woods of the east."

I wonder if Clint Eastwood knows that a bunch of Spaniards hear his name as an admonition to treat the eastern woodlands in a more environmentally sound manner. Really, "limpiar el bosque del este" sounds like something the leader of a Spanish Boy Scout troop would have on his to-do list.


At 12:23 AM, Blogger BigDubb said...

I think homophones are gay.... :)

I prefer homonyms

At 12:23 AM, Blogger BigDubb said...

BTW, You've been blogrolled.


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