One of the most interesting things about learning a second language is what it teaches you about your first.
Spanish has some words which require a whole phrase in English and vice versa. Some words don’t translate well. And some leave me saying, “Why doesn’t English have a word for that?
One that comes to mind is “Campo”. Literally it means country or countryside, but when I try to translate campo into an English sentence I’m always left searching for a better word.
Country. So simple, but it leaves a confused look on my face. Kind of like this.
I must check this out with my British friends because perhaps the problem is my Canadian upbringing. Britain has countryside. You know, pastoral green hills dotted with quaint villages. That is countryside. Canada, on the other hand, has wilderness. Canada has bush. Canada has moose pasture dotted with mosquitos. And I’m not sure that qualifies as countryside or campo.
The classic spring Sunday activity in Algeciras is to go and eat in “the campo”. That means back your car up to the nearest green space beside the highway, unpack 20 family members and a picnic, and enjoy the day. We don’t do that in Canada. We go to the lake to fish. Or we go to the bush to cut firewood. Or we buy expensive equipment and throw ourselves up and down mountains and rivers. But we don’t just go to the country.
Nor does the Spanish idea of campo substitute well in classic English phrases containing the word country. For example, “I like both kinds of music, campo and western. Doesn’t work. When someone asks me, “Rea, would you like a glass of wine,” I would never respond, “Does a bear shit in the country?” There are no bears in the campo. Just people drinking wine and eating unpasteurized cheese on checkered tableclothes.
So, I although I understand that campo means country, I still can’t pin down what that means in Canada.
Regardless, it’s a good place to spend the afternoon.