May 27, 2011 9 Comments
“Basura” is the Spanish word for Trash/Garbage. Do you know how I know that? Because I have seen a zillion trash cans in offices and public spaces with “Trash/Basura” printed on them, and I figured it out from context. I think I am probably a genius.
After all, Spanish-speaking people can’t figure out the reverse from context. (Apparently.) That is why we in the U.S., in our gentle benevolence, realized we needed to force-print “Basura” onto all our trash cans. Otherwise, how would Spanish-speaking people ever figure out what these cylindrical objects on the ground were?
But seriously. Whoever came up with this idea to print “Basura” everywhere, and whoever thinks it’s a good idea, must have a serious prejudice problem against Spanish-speaking peoples. They must believe that all Spanish speakers are absolute morons. That’s the only thing I can figure. There’s no other explanation for why “Basura” would be needed. Anywhere.
Suppose you, my English-speaking reader, were living and working in some foreign country for an extended period of time. One day, your first or second day there, you spot a cylindrical object on the floor of your office or on a street corner or in the public park. You peek down inside to see what the object contains, and see some paper products that are slightly wet and dirty, some empty soda cans, and the like.
Now, please tell me, faced with such a mystery how long do you think it would take you to put 2 and 2 together and deduce that that there thing is a trash can?
Similarly, now imagine that there is a word printed on the cylinder. It is some word written in the Latin alphabet with As and Bs and Cs and so on. You can therefore read and parse this word in your head, and attempt to pronounce it to yourself. Now: How long do you think it would take you to deduce that that word is the country’s language’s word for “trash”? And how long, really, would it take you to memorize that word? I could see forgetting it once. Twice. Thrice? After three times of encountering this language’s word for “trash”, do you think you’d be able to remember – once and for all – that the word on all those cylinders means “trash” in that language, upon encountering it on some cylinder?
Would you really need the word “trash” written above it? What for? After all, you’re not a moron.
But Spanish-speakers living in the U.S. do need “basura” written above Trash. In other words, they are all morons. At least, this is evidently what some people think.