Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Word of the Day: Estudiar

It's been a while since I've posted here. I suppose I should make things clear; I don't have time to post a new word every day, but I will do so as much as possible. It will probably end up being two or three times per week. So, here we go...

Estudiar
, of course, means 'to study', but Costa Ricans will also use the word to mean 'to read'. When I got to the country and had stretches of time with little to do but to read, people would often apologize that they didn't mean to interrupt me while I was "studying". I would often respond, "I'm only reading". This seemed to confuse them. Before long I accepted that reading and studying are one and the same to many Costa Ricans. Since I was living in mostly rural areas, most people I knew read only when they had to.

My theory is that this correlation between academic work and reading was so strong that people started melding the two activities together in language. I haven't tested this conjecture scientifically, but it seems the most plausible to me. Does anyone have more intimate knowledge of this usage?

10 comments:

Troy Dassler said...

I know what you mean. I would be reading some trashy Steven King novel and folks would ask me what I was studying.

Thomas Carmona said...

Haha, that's a perfect example of what I'm talking about. I was just catching up on football scores on my phone. Should that be considered studying?

stanhopi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stanhopi said...

I can see how the two concepts 'read' and 'study' would logically converge: To study also carries the sense of to concentrate on (something). When we read we tend to concentrate on the book, magazine, etc., and that, along with your explanation of many Ticos only reading when they need to rather does cement the two concepts together.

While I never have had any Ticos ask me what I am reading using the verb 'leer', neither have any excused themselves for interrupting me while I was 'estudiando'. And no Tico (not surprisingly) has ever corrected me for using the term 'leer' in the narrower sense that we use it in English.

[post corrected from previously]

ADAM said...

I've been in Costa Rica for about 2 months now. I just came across your blog and it is a great resource and very interesting! I keep a blog and understand it can be hard to update often, but I would absolutely love to learn more about Costa Rican spanish. Thanks!

CalebCKan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

hey there.. you might be interested to note that a very familiar phenomenon also happens in England. There, instead of saying, for instance, "I am studying Mathematics at the University" (as in the major), a person would say they are "reading" Mathematics. In this case, "reading" means "studying," even when there is no actual reading of books.

Thomas Carmona said...

Adam, thanks for the encouragement. I plan on paying more attention to my writing on Costa Rica in coming weeks.

The British example is interesting. I have heard that before, but I haven't take the time to analyze its use and origin. If you have further explanation, please let us know.

Lots in Samara Costa Rica said...

Very interesting meaning, thanks for the nice information.

Colton B said...

Actually, the exact same word replacement also occurs in Modern Greek. You use the word for study in reference to long term studies, but whether you are just studying or reading at the moment you use the word for reading. Interesting language overlaps!