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Fundamental, My Dear Watson

People who visit Mexico and attend conferences will have discovered that they aren't much different here than anywhere else

Spanish Pinpointed

People who visit Mexico and attend conferences, will have discovered that they aren’t much different here than anywhere else — the long introductions, the bad jokes, the charts, the strategic coffee breaks, the conference jargon…

One word that is extremely popular among speakers at these events is “fundamental,” which for convenience’s sake is the same in Spanish as in English. There is usually at least one fundamental challenge, need, or opportunity to be illustrated with each Power Point slide.

It means essential or basic, but those words don’t quite do the trick. Fundamental sounds more important, more urgent, and has more syllables to vary the stress according to the severity of the case.

But a listener who had to surmise the meaning of the word from the context of a presentation might come to the mistaken conclusion that it means non-existent. The “fundamental” conditions required for the success of this or that undertaking usually belong more in the realm of the desirable (for some) than the probable, such as the mythical “level playing field.”

In this respect, and in Mexico especially, it would be more practical, and infinitely more useful, to discuss ground rules, in the sporting sense of course.

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