The Universal Language II: Smiley Face Icons

What have we become, when the tone of our written communication can be changed by a smiley, winkey or tongue-hanging-out face? Have we become less “cultured”, as we rely on these universally understood but horribly overused “delights” to communicate successfully?

It used to just be teachers that could leave you a smiley face to say “bien hecho”.  Now it’s all 🙂 :D. 😉 and 😛 on Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp etc.

Your choice of smiley face can actually completely change your perceived intention….

😉  can mean: “I’m cool”, “I’m patronizing you”, “I know everything”, “Any time baby”, “Great!” “THAT’s it”, “I’m really a very friendly person”…. Whatever, it usually comes off as slightly condescending.

🙂 is more, “I’m nice”, “I’m genuine”, “I’m innocent”, “I’m at peace with myself”, “I’m pleased about that”…

😀 slips into “I’m fun”, “I’m crAzy”, “I’m enthusiastic”, “YEAH!” “I’m sweet”, “I’m REALLY OH SO pleased about that”…

:P. “hehehe, you’re so silly”,  “I’m slightly coy/flirty”, “I’’m teasing you” etc.

XD “HILARIOUS”, “I’m silly and proud!” :/ “I’m a little worried/confused” :O “I’m SHOCKED”

O_O “WHAAAAT?”

The list goes on… We could add LOL (you are rarely laughing out loud when you write it) and hehehe/jejeje vs hahaha/jajaja (looks like a fake laugh if ever I saw one)….

And don’t even get me started on English kisses: xXxxXxxXxx – Would you give someone that many kisses in person?! I guess it depends ;). Oops, there goes the wink… I’m as guilty as the rest :(. Aaah! I’m addicted! I can’t express myself without them! XD

Why are words not enough anymore? Shakespeare and Cervantes would be devastated.

Spain a Pessimistic Nation?

This morning I did my declaración de la renta (tax return). Just as I was saying politely to the funcionario (civil servant) attending me, Perdone, tengo una cita previa a las 9.40 (Excuse me, I have an appointment at 9.40), the man turned round to greet his colleague behind him: Quillo, ¿ya te has fumado un cigarro?” (Mate, have you had your ciggy break already?). I didn’t get a, “Good morning”, a “Just a second Madam”, or even an acknowledgement…

When the man turned back to me, he gave me a number, which one of his other two compañeros (colleagues) would call out when it was my turn…

Rather than pessimistic, I would describe Spain as conformist. The Spaniards are mostly deeply fond of their country and culture, both of which are extremely charming and attractive. Spanish people know how to enjoy life, and they have the climate, geography, food and traditions to do so.

A sizeable percentage of entrepreneurial Spaniards, do enjoy taking risks. Yet, as a nation, the Spaniards are not generally risk-takers. Why would they want to put at stake what they highly appreciate, when there are few incentives to do so?

Other nationalities are more prone to leaving everything: families, friends, and loved ones for a professional opportunity. This extreme is not desirable either.

However, in Spain, up until now, the greatest aim of many has been to become a funcionario. They are on average the best paid jobs, and once you pass the long, harsh and painful exams ‘Oposiciones’ (many Spaniards have to repeat them for years…) to achieve one, it becomes “A job for life”; it is virtually impossible to get fired…

Hardworking and passionate civil servants do exist, but there are also countless funcionarios like my ‘friend’ this morning. The system does not give them incentives to do the best they can, and this affects productivity and quality in some of the main public services

Conformist, yes. Pessimistic? Not in every sense. How could a country that is so beautiful, cheerful, culturally rich and talented at sport (ignoring last night’s performance!), be pessimistic?

Too Rich

Not something we often hear, other than perhaps in verbal attacks on politicians, hedge funders and football players… But I’m not talking about money. This reflection was inspired by a random conversation I had about chocolate the other day.  In English when something is overly sugary, fatty and creamy or ‘chocolatey’ we say that it is sickly, or “too rich”. In my early months in Spain when I claimed that a chocolate brownie was “demasiado rico”, I got strange looks. In Spanish when food is delicious, it’s “rich”: ¡Qué rico!  There’s no such thing as “Too rich”. The Spanish say “empalagoso”, which more or less translates to sickly. A dish being “too rich” is incomprehensible for the Spanish; a bit like the idea of driving on the left, or measuring distance in miles ;).

12 Daily Doses of Motivation

‘Motivation’ is a fashionable word at the moment. Like ‘empathy’ we use it without really thinking about what it means. There’s a gap between theory and practice. Motivation is universal but it’s also incredibly personal. What motivates you is what keeps you going, animado y con ganas – in all aspects of your life.

We can pursue motivation by manipulating our thoughts and actions. So, avoiding Maslow’s hierarchy and other studies, I would like to suggest 12 daily doses of motivation that work for me. Some of them are overlapping, and they are not in any order:

  1. Being creative – in my case, writing, singing or composing…
  2. Making a difference – Wow, what I’m doing actually matters!
  3. Making someone smile, laugh, happy, enlightened…. Subidón.
  4. Spending time with friends or family. Content feeling.
  5. Conversation with someone you admire. Admire has a multitude of meanings…
  6. Attention and recognition. We’re human.
  7. Physical activity. Energy!!!
  8. Tonterías and laughter. Endorphins to the max!
  9. Getting things done. List is ticked, objectives reached…
  10. Being entertained, inspired, learning.  Music, books, films, conversation etc
  11. Looking forward to something! Key to getting through duller moments.
  12. Doing something difficult. I DID it! I couldn’t before, or at least, I never tried..

What motivates you?

God Save the Queen

The word Queen makes me happy. The Spanish word Reina is not quite the same. Perhaps because Freddie Mercury and co were a genius creation. Or perhaps it’s that I really feel some British pride for our 60-year-ruling Elizabeth II.  There is no denying that the monarchy partly defines us as a nation, whether we approve of it or not.

Yesterday I began to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in Spain. We lifted our mojitos and cried “Salud”. OK, so Gin and “Cheers” (in a very posh accent) are more Elizabeth II’s thing, but at lease I am in flag-covered Britain in spirit.

I have never been particularly patriotic, but parts of British history and culture are embedded in me. This week I have missed British manners. Our “pleases” and “thank yous” can be very pesados, but we have unwritten rules that occasionally seem to lack in Spain: Formalities, sticking to our word, not talking over other people when they are speaking, aiming for punctuality…

We also have many things to be ashamed of, such as our nation’s historic tendency to drink too much. Yet, the great thing about the British is that we are capable of laughing at, and making parodies out of ourselves. This is why many love our Queen’s fake twitter account, where she tweets as a sarcastic, swearing, drunkard… https://twitter.com/#!/Queen_UK

God Save the Queen. And God let us appreciate the wonderful elements of different cultures… while being able to constructively criticize our own.

Happy 60th Anniversary Liz.