Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Carom + rumba = carumba

The title at the top of the student's draft was "I Carumba," and for a moment I wondered who this Carumba person might be--or is carumba a verb for a new dance step? "I Carumba" could conceivably refer to a production of "I, Claudius" produced by a spelling-challenge drama troupe in Corumba, Brazil, or "I Carumba" could be an appropriate title for a paper on the hazards of cross-cultural communication or the need for attention to detail in transcribing foreign words and phrases into English. This title, though, appeared on a paper about the problem of obesity, which, as far as I know, has no relationship to spelling, Spanish or otherwise.

I'm reminded of the elderly relative who started using closed-captioning after suffering hearing loss and suddenly discovered the proper spelling of words he had been using all his life; he'd been saying "wallah" for more than 70 years before he finally saw the word scrolling across the television screen, and then he could not contain his excitement: "Did you know voila starts with a v?"

I hope my student has a voila moment this week while revising his paper; otherwise, I'll be the one shouting, "Ay, caramba!"

1 comment:

Joy said...

"Oy Vey"