Friday, January 12, 2018

Enter and sign in, please, and welcome to "What's My Line?"

The year 2018 is tootling along unimpeded and nothing of cataclysmic import has happened so far.

That is probably untrue, as lots of things of personally cataclysmic import may have happened to individuals, some of them even to you.

I was speaking on a more general, higher level.

Here's something. Leaker extraordinaire Julian Assange may soon be leaving the Ecuadorian embassy in London for Switzerland if certain news articles are to be believed.

In looking up the proper adjective (Ecuadoran, Ecuadorian, and Ecuadorean are all acceptable), I learned something about Ecuador that I did not know before. The currency of Ecuador is the U.S. dollar. Imagine that. It happened several years ago, but I obviously was not paying attention. The sucre is out; the U.S. dollar is in.

In Spanish, Ecuador means equator. The country is certainly equatorial as said equator passes through it from west to east. Quito, Ecuador’s capital, is situated at latitude 0º14' South / longitude 78º30' West. It would be big news today if the equator suddenly decided to pass through Ecuador from north to south, but I digress.

Look at the map below and tell me if you find something else very interesting that you may not have realized before.


Did you see it? Nearly all of South America lies completely east of nearly all of North America. This, friends, is the reason Brazilians speak Portuguese rather than Spanish. Let me explain.

In 1493, after Cristoforo Colombo had returned to Spain from his first voyage to the New World, Pope Alexander VI, apparently his century’s equivalent of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, settled a dispute between Spain and Portugal by drawing an imaginary “Line of Demarcation” 100 leagues west of the Azores and Cape Verde Islands to separate future exploration and colonization. Spain would control lands discovered west of the line, and Portugal would control lands discovered east of the line. In 1494 the Treaty of Tordesillas moved the line 270 leagues further westward, or 370 leagues from the Cape Verde Islands. (Nobody bothered to check with England, France, Sweden, or the Netherlands, all of which proceeded to explore and colonize parts of North America without so much as a “by your leave” from Pope anybody.) The 1494 treaty gave Portugal a foothold in the eastern part of South America that later would become Brazil. Here's proof:


...and this is the reason Brazilians speak Portuguese today and everybody else in North and South America (except the U.S. and Canada) speak Spanish.

President Barack Obama once drew a red line in Syria. It meant absolutely nothing.

The moral of today's post is simply this: Whether you are Pope Alexander VI in the fifteenth century or Julian Assange in the twenty-first century, or even President Barack Obama, things can often turn out in a very different way from what you may have expected.

9 comments:

Yorkshire Pudding said...

When you asked what we might have noticed about the map, I noticed The Galapagos Islands which I already knew are administered by Ecuador. Nonetheless, thank you for the little history lesson - teaching me something I did not know.

rhymeswithplague said...

Yorkshire Pudding, I noticed them too and thought also of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) which you visited when you went to Chile a few years ago. But the reason I included the map in the post was to discuss Spain and Portugal and the Line of Demarcation, so the islands just had to wait.

ADRIAN said...

Thanks.....More stuff to clutter up my head.
I went to Key West and was positive the language there was Spanish.

rhymeswithplague said...

Adrian, it was definitely Spanish. There are millions and millions of Spanish speakers in the U.S., a great many of them in south Florida, south Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Southern California. But in San Francisco the signs at the airport are in Chinese, in Louisiana you may hear French, and at the Marietta Diner it’s all Greek to me.

Hilltophomesteader said...

Actually, I got stuck on your first sentence, lol. "Toodling" along...Hmmm. I think it should be "tootling" in this case, yes? We say "Toodles!" meaning good-by and "tootling" as meandering slowly.
I may be wrong. I often am.

Graham Edwards said...

Thanks Bob. Every day is a school day. I might even remember this.

rhymeswithplague said...

H.H. (Pam), you are not wrong. You have caught me in a rare misstep; Tootling is what I meant, not toodling. I just entered toodling into dictionary.com Anne it asked me if I meant noodling, boodling, tootling, or toddling. The answers are no, no, yes, and no. Good catch.

rhymeswithplague said...

Graham, glad to be of service! You made it all worthwhile.

rhymeswithplague said...

“and” — not “Anne”