An apartment by any other name

I read, recently, that the Canadian Inuit have 12 distinct words for snow and, because their words are formed by combining roots and affixes, the number of words for snow in Eskimo-Aleut languages is practically limitless, at least in theory.

Let me tell you… they have an astonishing number of words for APARTMENT in Spain and we have used every one of them in the last couple of weeks.

Let me explain…. no, there is too much… let me sum up… in addition to teaching and tutoring and writing and traveling, we have recently decided to further enrich (see: complicate) our lives by searching for a new apartment in Barcelona. Our few and humble requirements (ha!) are that our new place must be: larger (more expensive), have heat (hard to find), an elevator (50/50 shot), and 2 bedrooms (again, more expensive). Oh yes, and it needs to be nicely located in one of two highly-coveted neighbourhoods: Gracia or Sarria… no dodgy bag-snatching neighbourhoods for us.

Our apartment search is most definitely unfolding like a Greek Myth with Spanish and Catalan subtitles. Most of you are familiar with the story of the Odyssey in which Odysseus goes off to the Trojan War and is, somewhat unexpectedly, gone for 20 years. In our latter-day BCN version DP leaves on Thursday for Canada and, although there’s no Trojan horse in his plans for the summer, there is some major packing to be done on two continents. So yes, check the box labeled Herculean tasks and obstacles. I have already warned him about the dangers of the journey, the nymphs (Calypso, in particular) and those damned sirens, but he says he’s got it. What’s a girl to do? In this version of The Odyssey, I play poor much-maligned Penelope, left alone (no handmaidens here) to hold down the fort until he returns… except for one fascinating plot twist which finds me simultaneously searching (somewhat obsessively) for a second, larger and warmer fort for the fall. I am both the faithful guard and the highly motivated apartment seeker. Who can predict how this particular odyssey will end?

As promised,the words for apartment are:
apartamento: apartment
departamento: apartment or (literally) department
piso: apartment or floor/storey of a building
finca: huge and expensive apartment or property
inmueble: apartment or building

We’ll keep you posted. If anyone asks you how I am doing, you just tell them that Penelope is searching for a piso and that ought to do it.

P.S. I can recommend Margaret Atwood’s take on the Odyssey told from the perspective of Penelope. It is called, what else, “The Penelopiad”. Good stuff!

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