Who is obsessed with the weather?

The British love talking about the weather.  It’s a national pastime, or so we have been led to believe.  Other nations have more important things to talk about like politics, religion, life, football….!  Living in Spain we soon realised that for the men, at least, football is life.  What other nation would be celebrating the anniversary of winning the World Cup?  However since moving to Spain three years ago we have noticed another popular topic of conversation.  Believe it or not, the Spanish are always going on about the weather.

To be honest, when we first noticed this phenomenon, we assumed that our Spanish neighbours were just trying to make us feel welcome.  They were obviously thinking, “What do the British like talking about?  Of course, the weather!” before saying “¡Mucho calor!”  to us as we walked past. 

Looks like a "tormenta" coming our way

Then, gradually, we realised that wasn’t the case.  Spanish señoras were going into shops and saying “¡Tengo calor!”to other Spanish señoras as they fanned themselves.  Spanish señors were walking outside, looking up at dark clouds in the sky, before muttering that “tormentas” were due.  Eventually the penny dropped – we are fast learners – the Spanish are just as obsessed about the weather as we British are!

Most Spanish phrase-books give you lists of useful phrases, but very few of them have much to say about the weather.  Even the otherwise excellent BBC language website doesn’t have any meteorological expressions in their  top 20 essential phrases.  They include the all-important “Qué tal?” with the typically British response of “Bien, gracias” – but after these niceties, surely a comment about the weather would be appropriate?

It has been said that the reason the British talk about the weather so much is that there is such a variety of weather in the UK, so people may be surprised to read about this Spanish trait.  After all, surely every summer is hot in Spain?  John and I are now well into our fourth summer here, and can confirm that most days in July and August are very hot, though we have an occasional summer “tormenta” - but that doesn’t stop the weather from being a “hot” topic in Spain!

Talking about hot, there is one phrase to be very careful with, unless you want to be misunderstood.  The Spanish word for hot is caliente, however if you wish to say “I am hot” in Spanish do not say “Estoy caliente” as it has other connotations!  It is far safer to use the phrase “¡Tengo calor!” and, if you are a woman, you should be carrying the essential summer accessory and fanning yourself at the same time.  I think that using a fan is a reflex action for Spanish women of all ages.  During the summer months, even when touring a cool bodega where a fan is superfluous, both señoras and señoritas can be seen clutching their fans and automatically fanning themselves.

El Sol

Must go now, as “el tiempo” is due on Spanish TV,  and just in case you think “el tiempo” is the Spanish for “the time” - it is, but it also refers to the weather.  Hopefully tomorrow will be “Mucho calor” again – I must remember to mention it to our Spanish neighbours!

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • email
  • LinkedIn
  • Ping.fm
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS
  • Tumblr

Tags: , , ,

  1. Ali Bierman’s avatar

    Fascinating read, Sue. Now I get why my British mentor opens every webinar asking people about the weather. Here, in the US, people who do not know how to make small talk discus the weather and that is about it for that topic.

  2. Sue Walker’s avatar

    Thanks for your comment, Ali. However I would like to tactfully point out that, in all our travels, the only country where we discovered a dedicated weather channel on our TV was the US!

  3. Jack Scott’s avatar

    How we long for a tormenta to relief us from the our torment!