Sunday, July 10, 2011

A word on semantics

One of the great joys of living in a foreign country is coming across little gems of colloquial language. I studied Spanish for three years at university, but managed never to come into contact with "novelero", either as noun or adjective.

This is probably an admission of appalling ignorance, but in my defence, dictionaries wouldn't help with this one. Online, we would find the following definitions:

Novelero/a, adj. Imaginative, creative. Expressive. Curious.
Novelero/a, n. Someone who embroiders their stories. Someone who likes reading novels.

All well and good. But none of these really captures novelero, in the sense that I have encountered it, here in southern Spain. "Curious" comes closest, but 'novelero' in my sense is both more bitchy and more useful.

So, then, what do I mean by it?

A novelero is somebody who is constantly drawn to the latest thing. To novelty, but not just novelty; specifically, to things with buzz. Sydneysiders, if you have queued at Adriano Zumbo's for a macaron; if you took capoeira classes in 2008 or zumba classes last year; if you have at any time in the MasterChef era, signed up for cooking classes; if you traded your iPhone for an Android or vice versa; if you look at the reviews in Good Living and think, "yes, I SHOULD try the okonomiyaki at Emon", well, then, you, my friend, are a novelero. Or a novelera. Join the club.

It's a useful word, no?

Noveleros are particularly interesting in Spain because Spain is not, as a whole, a country obsessed with novelty. Compared to us New Worlders, Spaniards have a strong sense of who they are and where they are from; of their tastes and strengths, their likes and dislikes. Spaniards, to generalise shamelessly, are more inclined to go to the same bar for the same breakfast every morning than to seek out the hot new thing. I like and respect this about the Spanish, but do not share it.

But Badajoz, which will be my base in Spain, is apparently a city of noveleros. (Which makes me feel right at home, because Sydney is, too. See above.) At the moment, the list of novelero obsessions in Badajoz seems to include padel, a sort of squash-lite, and gin and tonic, to which they devote whole hilarious sections of the menu, and which they winningly call "gin tonic". The old quarter in Badajoz has recently undergone a large-scale civic rejuvenation, and is pulsing with new bars and clubs, at which Badajoz hipsters, young and old, like to enjoy their aforementioned gin tonics. More on all this, I daresay, at a later date.

Naturally, this is paradise for a novelera like me, and I look forward to exploring it. Join me if you will.

No comments:

Post a Comment