Despite Spain’s hot temperatures and the stereotyped passion of the Spanish people, I don’t suppose Spanish is any more eligible to be called the language of love than any other language. It does, however, seem to have a certain facility with affection that is difficult, if not impossible, in English.
The screenshot below is taken from a recent story on the BBC website about the Bárcenas scandal.
By extracting the phrase “a hug” from Rajoy’s text message to Bárcenas and using it as a subheading, the editor has managed to reduce a major political scandal to the level of a farce – or maybe the Teletubbies.
While it sounds either effeminate or slightly dubious in English, besos and abrazos are just what you say – and write – in Spanish; I suppose we should be glad that Rajoy used the standard sign-off un abrazo and not the only slightly more affectionate besos (kisses).
Almost all the business contacts I deal with sign their emails un abrazo, abrazos, un beso, or besos. The hugs and kisses are as likely to come from an administrative assistant in her 30s as from a CEO heading towards his 60th birthday, and I’m pretty sure neither means very much by it.
Being British, I am of course a little wary of all this apparent affection during office hours, although as long as it stays in Spanish and in writing I can just about deal with it. It is slightly strange, though, to be chasing late payments from a client who keeps signing off his excuses with a kiss.
Mind you, it seems that not all Spaniards are like wayward husbands. I’m preparing an intensive English course in a technical company and I sent out a pre-course needs analysis questionnaire this week. Now I am really looking forward to meeting one of the guys who made a valiant effort to answer the questions in English; he came up with a job title that I don’t think many men of my acquaintance could live up to: apparently he is “tender responsible”.
Should I be preparing myself for an offer I can’t refuse?