The fun of language

So I had a bit of trouble with my bike.  The front brakes were pressing against the wheels, therefore I was feeling like a great shlub, who was too out of shape to get up a hill.  I should point out that the town is on a hill, you feel it when you go the whole length.  To change the brakes, I needed an allen wrench.  The term had slipped my mind because I first knew it as the IKEA tool.  But talking to Anna I got it back into my memory.  So then I needed to figure out how to ask for it in spanish.  I look up wrench in my dictionary and it says llave de truecas.

Of course llave.  Now before I came to this country llave simply meant key to me.  As in a physical key to open a lock.  Once I got here, I learned another use which was water faucet most often applied to the outdoor spigots.  The house I live in has water connected to it, but some other volunteers get there water from a community spigot and it is not always available.

I went to test out the word with Miguel (who teaches english).  He got what I was talking about when I told him I needed a tool (herramienta), but didn’t have any.  We then got into a discussion about the trickiness of foreign language.  I complained about the fact that when using llave it could be confusing and he came back with imagine how hard it is for spanish speakers to have to learn three different words.  Which I have to say of course there are different words, they are different things.  I mean look.


But to continue with my quest I went to the new hardware store and asked and was just not understood what I was looking for.  I caught up with Nicolas and he got what I wanted and told me it was a llave alle (the online dictionaries say llave allen).  He said he would send one to me, but two days later he hadn’t and I was at Jumbo in the capital and saw a group of them being sold for around $1.25 and figured that was worth it.  And it was because my bike actually needs more than one size and I finally was able to add the water bottle cage.

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