Garlic Bites October 2008

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Extracts from the best selling book "In the Garlic" by Valerie Collins and Theresa O'Shea  Stay a while in Spain, and beyond the sunshine, fiestas, Rioja and laidbackness you may find yourself drifting in an uncharted ocean of unwritten laws, linguistic minefields and mysterious quirks. You need to be In the Garlic - en el ajo - in the know.  

W Pronounced oo-bay-DOB-lay, the 24th letter of the alphabet. Only used in words of foreign origin (whisky, Washington, windsurf, George W.)

Www And you thought double-u, double-u, double-u took a long time to say. To save time when giving web addresses, try this: tres oo-bay-DOB-lays (three w's).

Xunta The Xunta (shoonta) de Galicia is the name of the Galician autonomous government. Xunta is the Galician version of the word junta (board, committee), possibly more familiar in the expression junta militar.

Yonqui Heroin addict. Yonki is how the Spanish say “junkie”. This word has been officially accepted into the language by the Real Academia, with the relevant adjustment to its spelling.

Zambomba Key instrument for villancico (carol-singing) sessions. Basically an upturned bottomless flower-pot with a drum-skin stretched across one end and a hole in the middle through which a pole fits. To produce the instrument's low zam-bom, zam-bom sound the player spits on his or her hand and moves it up and down the pole. That's the theory, at any rate. For the uninitiated, about as easy as making fire by rubbing two wet sticks together.

Zamora Capital of the province of Zamora in the autonomous community of Castilla y León, immortalised in the Rome-wasn't-built-in-a-day expression: No se ganó Zamora en una hora (Zamora wasn't won in an hour). In fact, Zamora wasn't won, or beaten, at all. Rather, it was held on to. In 1072, Sancho II (under whom El Cid served) besieged the strategically important city in an attempt to wrest power from his sister, Urraca. During the siege, which lasted seven months, Sancho was killed, and the courage of the inhabitants of Zamora passed into the history books — and the language.

Zara Since we decided to include Zara in this book, just about everyone in Barcelona seems to be carrying their stuff around in a Zara carrier bag. Zara, as hype-loving journalists have been quick to note, is today's Spanish Empire Upon Which the Sun Never Sets, and its emperor is Amancio Ortega, president of the Inditex group (Zara, Pull and Bear, Bershka, Massimo Dutti, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home, Kiddy´s Class). From a tiny family workshop in Arteixo, near A Coruña, since 1975 Zara has grown to over 1,600 shops in 40 countries, 254 of them in Spain. Customers visit Zara on average 17 times a year (four times a year more than the competition), a great marketing success. One of the great achievements of the company is to have become famous without any advertising. Ever seen a Zara advert? Zara's marketing is embodied in the stores themselves: the best premises, the best locations on the busiest shopping streets. Everything is carefully designed down to the last detail, the decor, the window displays, the staff. Nothing is left to chance. Zara's winning formula consists of giving the public what it wants, at the lowest possible price and in the shortest possible time. Telefónica and Co, take note.

In the Garlic: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain is published by Santana and is available at all good book shops (ISBN 13:978-84-89954-59-5)

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