Thursday, 15 December 2011

Cool word of the day: LINGER

A Spanish student of mine and I were talking about the differences between Italian and Spanish culture, especially regarding coffee. (His girlfriend is Italian, and so is my husband.)

In Italy, you drink coffee as though you were taking a shot. At the most, it's a ten-second experience, and you're out the door. It's more of an individual experience, we decided.

In Spain, however, coffee culture has the possibility of being a shared experience. Two friends might meet for a coffee and spend hours talking. You linger over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in a cafe. You stay there longer than the time it would normally take you to drink a cup of coffee, almost as if you didn't want to leave.

Imagine you go out for an enjoyable meal with two or three good friends. You order dessert and coffee, but you take your time, chatting and reminiscing. You linger over dessert.

(Even President Obama has lingered over a meal. Check out this blog post.)

Or you might have a romantic relationship with someone and then break up with that person for whatever reason. If your emotional connection with that person was particularly strong, those emotions can stay with you over time. Those feelings linger

In my opinion, the best example of feelings lingering is illustrated in the 1993 hit by Irish band The Cranberries, "Linger." It was also my favorite song my senior year of high school, and it brings back a lot of memories, memories which have stayed with me over the years, memories that linger.

Great example of present simple vs. present continuous (to express a plan)

I was just skyping with a student from Spain, and we were talking about Christmas and how it would be less stressful if we didn't have to give gifts. Neither he nor I have bought gifts for our "significant others" yet, and the pressure is mounting!

We both agreed that we should get our families to institute a "no gifts rule," though I imagine that would be hard at my house, considering that "Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus" still think my brother and I are five years old (and I haven't been five for 30 years).

While we were talking, I thought of a perfect example to show how we use the present continuous to talk about future plans between people. Have a look...

Present simple (habitual actions, common facts):

> People usually give each other gifts at Christmastime.

Present continuous (to express future personal arrangements and plans)

> My family have all agreed that we're not giving each other gifts this year.

(If only that were true... ha ha)