||Friday, February 13th 2009 [ versión español ]
Puerto Rico is among the best users of the Spanish language, perhaps because even though there are many common errors when writing and speaking there also exists “a very demanding public, avid with inquisitive knowledge and the desire to learn,” which are all related with the correct usage of their language.
||Book Cover of ¿Cúal es tu duda? designed by artist Iván Camilli.
Doctor Luz Nereida Pérez is sure about this statement, which has been validated through her 30 years of experience as a consultant of written communication for government agencies, private enterprises and through her participation in mediums of the Island such as press, radio, and television.
“In my radio appearances we always finish with all the lights on, not for me, for the language. The people love the language and they like to ask, to insist, present their thoughts and try to understand. Puerto Rico undeniably loves its language,” stated Pérez.
Her expressions form part of a chat that was offered with the motivation of presenting her most recent book, ¿Cúal es tu duda? (What is your question?) at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM), organized by the Department of Hispanic Studies, the Spanish Writing Center and the Committee of Cultural Promotion of the Humanities Department.
The text, whose sales have passes 3 thousand from its publication in the middle of 2008, compiles the most frequent questions that have been proposed to the author throughout her career, which she answers in a short and concise manner.
“I attribute the books success to its simple quality, to its detail, and that it gets directly to the point. This book I would say is not written by me, but truly by the participants of radio programs who love the Spanish language and ask questions,” assured its author, who revealed that she remains closely tied to UPRM and the city of Mayagüez, where she taught basic Spanish classes, became a mother for the first time, and saw her second oldest son graduate from Mechanical Engineering.
Pérez possesses a doctorate degree in Philosophy and Liberal Arts from City University of New York and since 1980 has worked as a consultant, a job that offers training on modern techniques for writing and the revision of Spanish language documents. Since 1994, she writes for the weekly newspaper Claridad the column, Let’s Speak Spanish, which has been published in seven books under this name. She has also participated in diverse radio and television programs with the mission of answering doubts about the Spanish language.
Doctor Francisco García Moreno, Hispanic Studies professor, was in charge of the presentation of the book. He elaborated on the importance of knowledge of the Spanish language and added that there is a large neglect in its use in the majority of the Spanish speaking countries, not only among students but also in the media, professional relations, in the worlds of sports and politics, and even in the academic world.
“The book that we present today, written by doctor Luz Nereida Pérez, is another commendable attempt to restore our linguistic level. The book, aside from its practical use, getting rid of doubts, is of an educational nature since along with responses to doubts it explains the origin of the term, and the reason for the error or grammatical process. It is for that reason that it is a book that all those who wish to write correctly should possess,” commented the director of the Spanish Writing Center.
What is your Question?, whose prologue was written by Ricardo Alegría, is divided into various sections such as: Is it this one or that one, which explains the correct usage of both terms; Questions on Verbs; Grammar and Phonetics; Incorrect Translations; and Language and Rights. Those curious to know if its supposed to be sancocho or salcocho (type of stew), limber or líndberg (similar to a popsicle) or where the expression a las millas de chaflán comes from, can count on a special section dedicated to Boricua Doubts.
The author offered a tremendous discussion to the UPRM community, in which she spoke about the richness of Spanish, the most emotional language, in her judgment, but with one of the most difficult grammars. The educator managed to steal a few laughs from those gathered in the amphitheatre Figueroa Chapel with examples of the diversity and complexity of the language.
One of these jovial moments was when Pérez explained that they had not eliminated the letters ch and ll but had relocated them in the dictionary, but they are distinctive of Spanish phonology as well as the ñ.
“That is sacred, because if they eliminated the letter ñ then Puerto Rican children would sing La borinquena (national anthem of Puerto Rico). As well as the fact that we would wish everyone a feliz ano nuevo (supposed to be Happy New Year but without the ñ it would be happy new anus) the congratulations for those who have had their hemorrhoids removed. You won’t forget this and you will never forget to defend the ñ as if you were a cat turned on its back,” commented the author in a joking tone.
Pérez recalculated that her work with the language requires constant cultivation. “I don’t know everything about Spanish, on the contrary I know very little about Spanish and I need to continue to learn. The continual challenge that these questions represent is what makes me grow, that’s why the best question is the one in which I have to respond, ‘I don’t know.’ It also helps me with my next book which is already in the works.”
Doctor Luz Nereida Pérez is a consultant in written communication and participates in the mediums of the press, radio, and television.
Doctor Francisco García Moreno, of Hispanic Studies, was in charge of the presentation. Doctor Luz Nerieda Pérez observes him.
The educator managed to steal a few smiles from those present in the amphitheatre Figueroa Chapel.
Photographs by Carlos Díaz / UPRM Press