Another canard

“I heard once that the se me olvido’ was a way to keep the blame off the person him/herself!

These are the things that keep me posting when I should keep quiet.

This canard was taught by a friend of mine who exerted a lot of influence over Sp teachers and students here in the Valley (of the Sun = Phoenix, AZ area). It is such a delightful tidbit of pseudo-linguistic knowledge and manages to make the purveyor sound both worldly and erudite at the same time. I am glad D brought this up and I am glad she qualified it with an “I’ve heard….”, indicating she doesn’t own it.

Also it was repeated in a widely seen video in the series by someone whose name I googled but could not find, Michael Pizzy (sp.?), who did a series on various parts of the world, possibly for the BBC, and who made this verbal consruction a central piece in explaining why Latin-Americans continually turn their govenments over to the military: a lack of a sense of responsibility. “Se me cayo el vaso” but I didn’t “drop” it like an upstanding, responsibility-taking Englishman; it was the glass’ fault b/c it is the subject of the verb and “I” am just incidentally involved. That was Pizzy’s take on it.

ANY, I repeat, ANY reputable manual of Spanish grammar will explain this usage in an intelligent and scientifically responsible manner. I could quote several such but will not in order to keep the post short.

But I do hope D’s “I’ve heard….” represents a dearth of such explanations and is a sign that it is dying a well-deserved death along with another canard concerning Sp, to wit, that the thetheo comes from no one wanting to offend a king with a lisp. Linguistic change doesn’t occur that way, no matter how good a story it makes.

And let me rip off another rant while I’m at it: I’ve heard, speaking of hearing, people say that the “story” or “anecdote” reveals deeper truths than the scientific fact. Sorry, Charlie, that way lies madness. Pretty soon we’ll be entertaining all sorts of romantic and fatuous nonsense in our textbooks and classrooms. We teach languages, therefore our knowledge base lies in linguistics, not travelers’ tales and pseudo-science.

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