Considered by many to be the bane of good writing, adverbs get a bad rap in literary circles. Even Gabriel García Márquez famously shuns them, giving his translators quite the task. I use adverbs o̶c̶c̶a̶s̶i̶o̶n̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ at times, and I don’t think my speech in Spanish has an abundance of -mentes. When I learn really great adverbs in Spanish, though, I can’t help but be excited about getting an opportunity to use them, adverb tsk-tskers be damned. Here are two interesting Spanish adverbs I learned today and yesterday, adverbs so good they should easily vindicate their part of speech’s dishonor.
Fulminantemente: on the spot, without warning
¿Qué rayos quiere decir fulminantemente? (You’ll see in a moment how apropos this epithet is.) I read this word in a comment on a newspaper article. “. . . que sean despedidas de las universidades y sitio de trabajo fulminantemente.” They (people who sneak into the TransMilenio system without paying) should be kicked out of and fired from their universities and jobs on the spot. Wow, what a word. I didn’t know why, but something about fulminante made me think of fiery, sizzling, heat. I couldn’t connect it to any English word I know, though. As it turned out, fulminate is a word.
-to issue a thunderous attack or denunciation, to rail (against)
-to explode or detonate with noise and violence
-to thunder and lighten (new word for me–to lightning)
-to strike down, kill suddenly (an illness)
-to look daggers at sb, give sb a dirty look, à la “if looks could kill”, a death stare
-instant, immediate (adj.)
-sudden and fatal, fulminant (adj.)
-explosive, squib (n.)
I vaguely remember the verb fulminar from the time I read Roald Dahl’s The Witches in Spanish. (Las brujas) Yes, yes, here it is: La Gran Bruja recorrió la sala con una mirada fulminante. The Grand High Witch glared around the room. And, Los relucientes ojos de serpiente, hundidos en aquella espantosa cara corrompida, fulminaban, sin pestañear, a las brujas que estaban sentadas frente a ella. The brilliant snake’s eyes that were set so deep in that dreadful, rotting worm-eaten face glared unblinkingly at the witches who sat facing her. I’d forgotten the meaning of this word, but I retained the connotations of heat and intensity. Fulmen means lightning bolt or violent utterance in Latin.
I guess I must have also heard about fulminated mercury in Breaking Bad. But none of these grazes with fulminate helped me when I tried to imagine what to fire someone fulminantemente meant. You fire/kick out/impeach/dump someone with the intensity of a lightning bolt. In a word, you zap them.
Pistola de fulminantes is a cap gun.
Arrobadoramente: enchantingly, entrancingly
I heard this in a lecture at an art colloquium on Friday. While arroba is @, the at sign, arrobar is to enchant, to enthrall. To send into an extasis, to enrapture. It can be in a mystic, spiritual or romantic sense. Arrobador or arrobadora is entrancing, enchanting, and so on and so forth. I’ll now be sniffing around for an opportunity to use this word.
Come across any punchy adverbs lately? Don’t be shy; nobody gets fulminated around here, at least not on lazy, rainy weekends.