Leçons Espagnol

Thèmes

Monte de Piedad: Merciful Pawn Shops

Monte de Piedad

Mount of Mercy

Caption 3, Control Machete - El Apostador

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Monte de Piedad translates literally to "Mount of Mercy," which sounds like a religiously inspired exclamation use to punctuate this tale of gaming overindulgence; it is in fact the name of Mexico's facinating chain of state-run and state-controlled pawn shops. These exist throughout the country and are actively used by a surprisingly large percentage of the Mexican population on a fairly regular basis.

An excellent write-up including a modern account and full history:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nacional_Monte_de_Piedad
Also worth reading:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1280276,00.html

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Che, Boludo: Argentinian 101

Che boluda... ¿qué te pasa? Estás como loca hoy.

Hey silly [potentially insulting, not amongst close friends]... what's up? Today you're like crazy.

Caption 3, Cuatro Amigas - Piloto - Part 3

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Our third installment of Cuatro Amigas – a very Sex and the City-like Argentine drama – opens in the ladies' bathroom, where we get a chihuahua's eye view of Elena and Rita's taste in intimate apparel. They are chatting intimately, addressing each other with che in caption 3 (cited above) and again in caption 14. In Argentina, che means "hey" between friends, or even "yo." Basically, it's a familiar, informal attention getter... che, got that?

If you watched 2004's Motorcycle Diaries, chronicling the cross-continent journeys that raised the consciousness of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, you know how Che got his famous nickname. For the rest of you: The Chileans were simply making fun of young Ernesto's Argentine habit of saying che all the time. (For more lore about the Marxist revolutionary, look for the two-part 2008 biopic called Che, with Benicio del Toro as a very convincing Che.)

Back to the quote cited above, which is translated as, "Hey silly, what's going on with you?" But we put a special note next to our translation of "silly" because that's not the whole story. Boludo or boluda is a slang word in Argentina that roughly means something more like "jerk." Use it with caution in the streets of Buenos Aires because it can be quite an insult, depending on the context. But between girlfriends, it's almost another way to say "hey... you."

 

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Bien: Well, OK

Bueno... está bien, Tere.

All right... Tere, OK.

Caption 30, Verano Eterno - Fiesta Grande

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Bien, usually meaning "well" or "OK," has a plethora of uses that can change slightly in meaning depending on the context. Here, Tere's mother tells her that "it's OK" for her to take piano lessons with Juan. "OK" is a fairly typical translation for bien.

 

Es ahora bien buena madre con los hijos adoptivos

Now she is such a good mother with the adopted children

Captions 42-43, José Luís Acacio - Simón Bolívar

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The word bien, when placed before an adjective, tends to emphasize the meaning of that adjective. Here, that emphasis is perhaps best translated as "very" or "such a" to give us "Now, she's a very good mother" (or "such a good mother").

Note that when it's not used to describe your mother, bien buena, on it's own, most often means "really hot" or "really fine," (in the colloquial sense) and is used referring to some sexy thing.


¡Mamacita, estas bien buena!
Girl, you are damn fine!

 

Entonces que nosotros, pues, tenemos una... tenemos un dialecto que es bien bonito.

So it's that we, well, have a... we have a dialect that is quite beautiful.

Captions 47-48, Rafael T. - La Cultura Maya

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Sometimes that emphasis that the word bien gives to the adjective it precedes seems to be best translated as "quite," which in this case gives us: "We have a dialect that is quite beautiful."

Bien is used for emphasis in a variety of sayings that are common among younger speakers often prone to exaggeration:

Cantas bien mal.
You sing really badly.

 

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Keep your eyes open for many more interesting uses of bien!

Yo no me acuerdo pero bien pudo ser.
I don't remember but it well could have been (or, easily may have been).

 

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Amamantar, Mecer y Arrullar: Motherly Words

Y después de amamantarlos tanto a unos como otros

And after nursing them each one like the other

Captions 45-46, José Luís Acacio - Simón Bolívar

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José's patriotic tune personifies Venezuela as a mother and in so doing introduces us to some great words for motherly attention.

Amamantar means "to nurse" or even more literally "to breast feed" (coming from the root for mammary glands, mama), and so here we have "And later to nurse them...". This really reinforces the notion of amor carnal ("bodily love") that Madre Venezuela shows her people.

 

Con ese amor tan carnal meciéndolos en su hamaca

With such a carnal love rocking them in her swing

Captions 47-48, José Luís Acacio - Simón Bolívar

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Mecer means "to cradle," "to swing," or "to sway." So here he sings of Madre Venezuela cradling or swinging her children "in their hammock."

 

Los dormía y arrullaba con nuestro himno nacional

She put them to sleep and lulled them with our national anthem

Captions 49-50, José Luís Acacio - Simón Bolívar

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Arrullar means "to lull" or "to coo" (refering to the noise made by pigeons and that made by mothers to lull their babies). Therefore, "She put them to sleep and lulled them."

 

So a late afternoon routine for a mother might go like this:

 

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En la tarde, la madre amamanta el bebe si tiene hambre. Después para que sea quieto, le arrulla en sus brazos. Entonces, cuando ya está más quieto, ella pone el bebe en la cuna ("cradle") y le mece hasta que entra el sueño.

 

In the afternoon, the mother breastfeeds the baby if he is hungry. Then for him to be still, she cradles him in her arms. So, when he is more still, she puts the baby in her crib ("cradle") and rocks him until he falls asleep.

 

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Gustar vs. "To Like": A Difference in Perception - Part 1

The verb gustar, or Spanish equivalent of "to like," tends to confuse English speakers because, in terms of the relationship between a sentence's subject and object, it functions in exactly the opposite way. To better understand this, let's define these two terms:

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Generally speaking, the subject of a sentence is the person, place, thing, or idea that performs an action.

 

The object of a sentence is the person, place, thing, or idea that receives the action of the sentence's verb. 

 

A very simple example of this concept would be: "I threw the ball," where "I" is the subject, or performer of the action, and "the ball" is the object, or recipient of the action. 

 

That said, with the English verb "to like," it is the subject of the sentence that "does the liking." Let's look at a few simple examples:

 

She likes pizza ("She" is the subject who performs the action of liking onto the object, "pizza").

 

Anna and John like dogs ("Anna and John" is the subject; they perform the action of liking onto the object, "dogs"). 

 

We like you ("We" is the subject that performs the action of liking onto the object, "you"). 

 

In Spanish, on the other hand, the subject, or performer of the action, is the person, place, or thing that, in English, is "being liked." To see this in action, let's take a look at some captions from a Yabla video on this very topic:

 

Me gusta mucho este parqueA ti también te gusta ¿verdad? Sí, me gustan las plantas. Sí, a mí me gustan las plantas y las flores y los árboles

I really like this parkYou like it too, right? Yes, I like the plants. Yes, I like the plants and the flowers and the trees.

Captions 9-13, Conversaciones en el parque - Cap. 5: Me gusta mucho este parque.

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In Spanish, este parque (this park), las plantas (the plants), and las plantas y las flores y los árboles (the plants and the flowers and the trees) are the subjects of these sentences, as they are thought to "cause" the implied objects yo (I) and tú (you) to like them. In their English translations, on the other hand, "I" and "you" are the subjects of the sentences, whereas "this park," "it," "the plants," and "the plants and the flowers and the trees" are the objects that receive the action of liking. 

 

While this difference in perception may confuse English speakers, it is useful to note that the English verb "to please" functions similarly to "gustar" in terms of the subject-object relationship. Therefore, it may be a good exercise to substitute this verb for "to like" when translating Spanish sentences with "gustar" or attempting to formulate new ones. Let's take a look at our previous example, this time translated with the verb "to please": 

 

Me gusta mucho este parque. A ti también te gusta ¿verdad? Sí, me gustan las plantas. Sí, a mí me gustan las plantas y las flores y los árboles. 

This park really pleases me. It also pleases you, right? Yes, the plants please me. Yes, the plants and the flowers and the trees please me. 

 

To reiterate this concept, let's take a look at some additional examples where the verb gustar has been translated as "to like" while providing their alternative translations with "to please":

 

1.

Me gustan mucho las chaquetas de piel.

I really like leather jackets.

Caption 32, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 14

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ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: 

Me gustan mucho las chaquetas de piel

Leather jackets really please me. 

 

2.

Yo te quiero así y me gustas porque eres diferente

I love you like that, and I like you because you're different

Caption 12, Carlos Vives, Shakira - La Bicicleta

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ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION:

Yo te quiero así y me gustas porque eres diferente 

I love you like that, and you please me because you're different

 

3. 

¿Te gusta trabajar aquí, te gusta? -No, no me gusta, no.

Do you like working here, do you like it? -No, I don't like it, no.

Caption 77, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 12

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ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: 

¿Te gusta trabajar aquí, te gusta? -No, no me gusta, no. 

Does working here please you, does it please you? -No, it doesn't please me, no. 


Note that while the alternative translations are grammatically correct, their primary purpose here is to help us to understand how the Spanish verb "gustar" functions. As in everyday speech, it would be far less common to hear someone say "You please me" than "I like you," the translations with "to like" are preferable in most cases.

 

Now that we are familiar with the different manners in which the English and Spanish languages express the concept of "liking," it's time to learn how to conjugate the verb "gustar," which we'll cover in the next lesson. That's all for today, and don't forget to leave us your comments and suggestions.

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Arrugas: Backing Out--No Wrinkles!

¿No me digas que arrugaste?

Don't tell me you're backing out?

Caption 12, Verano Eterno - Fiesta Grande

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In the same scene, Benjamin rekindles the fire of the apuesta ("bet") to see whether Mauro has won the heart of Violeta. At one point, he asks Mauro if their bet is still on. To do so, he uses the verb arrugar, which means "to wrinkle" or "to crumble" in other contexts. But in the context of their bet, arrugar would mean crumble in a way, but a more straightforward translation is "to back out."

Keep your eyes open in the cosmetics section to find una arruga used as a noun meaning "a wrinkle," and often in the plural as arrugas.

When learning Spanish gets tough, ¡No arrugues!

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Poquitito: A Wee Little Tiny Bit

¿No te parece un poquitito tarde para abrir?

Don't you think it's a bit late to open?

Caption 1, Verano Eterno - Fiesta Grande

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If un poco means "a little," and un poquito is the diminutive form (meaning "just a little bit"), what is un poquitito? Yup, it's the diminutive of the diminutive. It's kind of like saying: "Just a wee little bitty bit" for an exaggerated effect. In the opening line of this installment of Verano Eterno, Benjamin is giving Mauro a hard time. Using a diminutive of a diminutve helps him exaggerate his sarcastic comment for effect.

 

At a travel and tourism exposition in London, we meet Ángela who is from Tarija, Bolivia. She tells us a little bit about a favourite dish of hers from her hometown called "saice."

 

Es parecido al chili con carne, pero como les digo, es muchísimo más sabroso.

It's similar to "chili con carne," but as I tell you guys, it's way more tasty.

Se acompaña con arroz y un poquitito de ensaladita.

It comes with rice and a little bit of salad.

Captions 22-23, World Travel Market en Londres - Ángela de Bolivia

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There's one other diminutive of a diminutive that's commonly heard: Chico, as in "small" can be made "very very small" by saying chiquitito. (Note that in both cases, the "c" turns to a "qu" to retain that hard c/k sound before "i.")

 

O quizás una barba pequeñita en la barbilla que se llama perilla.

Or perhaps a tiny beard on the chin that's called a goatee.

Es la perilla, solamente aquí, chiquitito.

It's a goatee, only here, very small.

Captions 81-83, Marta de Madrid - El cuerpo - La cabeza

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U for O, E for Y

Un segmento de una hora u hora y media.

A period of one hour or one hour and a half.

Caption 40, Rafael T. - La Cultura Maya

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Sooner or later we all notice cases where 'u' replaces 'o' ("or") or where 'e' replaces 'y'  ("and"). These conjunctions change when the word following them starts with the same letter sound. Therefore in the example above, 'o' changes to 'u' because the beginning sound of the next word, hora, is [o] (note that the h is silent).

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The rule of thumb is pretty simple: With the conjunctions o ("or") and y ("and"), the vowels change if they are followed by the same vowel sounds.

Here are some examples of the vowel change in action:


¿Vas a comprar siete cervezas u ocho?
Are you going to buy seven beers or eight?


¿Quieres cervezas o gaseosas?
Do you want beers or sodas?


and...

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Julieta e Ignacio estudian la medicina.
Julieta and Ignacio study medicine.

Yasmil y Javier tocan a la guitarra.
Yasmil and Javier play the guitar.

Try speaking the sentence without changing the vowel and you should hear that it sounds funny to say the same vowel sound twice. That should help you remember this simple rule.

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Ir + a + Infinitive Verb: An Alternative to the Future Tense

Somos dos, nunca sola vas a ir

We are two, you will never go alone

Caption 17, Liquits - Desde Que

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Somos dos, juntos vamos a vivir

We are two, together we will live

Caption 19, Liquits - Desde Que

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A quick word about the future tense in spoken Spanish: In many cases, it's simply not used. Instead, you commonly hear the present tense of ir (voy, vas, va, vamos, van) followed by a, followed by an infinitive of a verb (such as, ir or vivir). In this song by the Mexican group Liquits, the construction makes for some catchy refrains ("We are two, never alone you are going to go," and "We are two, together we are going to live.") In practical life, non-native Spanish speakers who know their ir may be grateful to buy some extra time to think of just the right vocabulary to express themselves. Voy a... voy a... voy a aprender a hablar con más fluidez, you might finally come out and say. The same sentence using the future tense? Aprenderé a hablar con más fluidez.

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Hoy en día: Nowadays

...y que trae algo a la mesa de lo que es hoy en día es la música en general, ... trae algo diferente, algo novedoso, algo fresco.

...and brings something to the table that nowadays, the music generally, ... it brings something different, something new, something fresh.

Captions 43-46, Javier García - EPK - Part 2

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More generalizations. This time, we're hearing about music "nowadays" from Javier García's producer Gustavo Santaolalla -who won an Oscar for best original score for "Brokeback Mountain" (marketed as Secreto en la Montaña in Spanish). Yes, hoy en día is how you say "nowadays" in Spanish, which you will make note of if you ever want to be as fluent in both languages as Santaolalla is. In his Oscar acceptance speech LA-resident Santaolalla dedicated his Oscar to "todos los latinos." He said both "gracias" and "thank you," which played very well in Latin American newspapers. (To save you time, the article linked describes some Latino papers' reactions--from Miami to Mexico, Brazil to Chile.) 

 

En un principio esta fuente cumplió su función de abastecimiento de agua a los ciudadanos de Madrid.

At first this fountain acomplished its function of supplying water to the citizens of Madrid.

Pero hoy en día su función es totalmente decorativa.

But nowadays its function is totally decorative.

Captions 15-18, Marisa en Madrid - Monumentos de Madrid

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In this example of the use of the phrase, Marisa shows us a beautiful, neoclassical fountain in Madrid called Fuente de Cibeles (The Fountain of Cybele). 

 

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Ser Ganso, Ir a los bifes: Don't Be a Fool- Go for It!

Cuando las minas te piden tiempo en realidad lo que quieren decir es que no seas más ganso... y que vayas directamente a los bifes.

When chicks ask you for time what they really mean is that you should stop being a fool... and go straight into action.

Captions 4-6, Verano Eterno - Fiesta Grande - Part 7

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¿Que quieren decir? Ok, here's a generalization about men: Whenever you hear men make generalizations about women, be very skeptical! In this installment of Verano Eterno, unemployed Juan offers his unsolicited advice about minas (that is, "women" in Argentine slang) to his lovestruck buddy Mani. According to the wisdom of Juan (captions 4-6, as quoted above): "When chicks ask you for [more] time, what they really mean is stop being a fool and go for it."

Of course, Juan is young and speaks casually to his friend, so there's some slang to decipher to get his precise meaning. Ganso, which literally means "goose," is easy enough to understand in context. But it may help to know that hacer el ganso generally means "to play the fool," and so, naturally, ser un ganso, is "to be a fool." But what about the end of the statement? ir a los bifes In a way, it too follows its literal meaning: "To go to the meat" -er, more or less. Checking in with native speakers, the phrase vayas a los bifes more commonly means "go for it".

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Darse Cuenta: The Real "Realize"

While there are many words that are identical in Spanish and English (e.g. original, horror, etc.), other words play different tricks on us. This short lesson is about one of those "false friends," or words that are written the same as or similar to words in another language but have very different meanings. 

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An age-old mistake among English speakers is to use the verb realizar as a means of conveying "to come to know" or "realize." Of course, most of you know by now that this is a false cognate as realizar usually means "to achieve," "bring to fruition," etc.

 

In fact, the correct way to say "to realize" is darse cuenta. Let's take a look at a couple of clips in order to see that verb in action:

 

Eh, darse cuenta que... que hay mucha gente, muchos chavales, que han podido perder una familia en'... a sus padres, se pueden quedar huérfanos.

Um, realizing that... that there many people, many young people, who have managed to lose an [entire] family... their parents; they can end up orphans.

Captions 12-13, Iker Casillas - apoya el trabajo de Plan

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Y de pronto te das cuenta de que... de que no quieres estar con nadie más.

And suddenly you realize that... that you don't want to be with anyone else.

Captions 29-30, Cortometraje - Flechazos

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And now, let's see how the Spanish verb realizar is used throughout this El Aula Azul video:

 

Entonces voy a coger los datos para realizar la inscripción.

Then I'm going to take down the information to carry out the registration.

Caption 1, El Aula Azul - Conversación: Los cursos de español

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Y ahí tendrá toda la información para realizar el pago.

And there he'll have all of the information to make the payment.

Caption 31, El Aula Azul - Conversación: Los cursos de español

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Y toda la información que pueda necesitar para... para realizar su curso.

And all the information that he might need to... to take his course.

Caption 32, El Aula Azul - Conversación: Los cursos de español

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As you can see, the verb realizar can be used in many different ways, just not in the way in which a native English speaker might initially expect!

 

That's all for today. We hope this lesson helps you to avoid making this common mistake. And don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions.

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Dejar: Stop Leaving

Tú me quieres dejar, y yo no quiero sufrir

You want to leave me, and I don't want to suffer

Caption 8, Javier García - EPK

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One of the most interesting, and yet also most common, verbs we find in Spanish is dejar. In caption 8 of his EPK (which, by the way, is entertainment industry talk for "Electronic Press Kit"), Javi sings Tú me quieres dejar... and the meaning is "You want to leave me..." However, twelve captions later we find the imperative (command) form of the same verb being sung to a different tune...

 

Deja de correr, tranquila

Stop running, take it easy

Caption 20, Javier García - EPK

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Here, Javi is not telling us to "leave" running but rather the same verb now means "to stop" ("Stop running, take it easy"). The construction dejar de + infinitivo gives us the equivalent in English of "stop" + gerund (the "-ing" verb form).

Deja de mirarme así.
Stop looking at me like that.

Deja de llorar.
Stop crying.

 

Esta rumba, yo te digo, que te deja por el suelo

This rumba, I'm telling you, leaves you on the floor

Captions 1-2, Javier García - La Rumba

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Very similar to a use of "leave" in English, dejar can be used to explain how something effects you. In this case, the rumba is so great and so tiring, it "leaves you on the floor." In a similar vein, you may hear people talking about how an emotional event affected them: La película me dejó sin palabras, or "the movie left me speechless."

La clase de gimnasia me dejó cansadísima.
Gym class left me very tired.

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If you keep your ears open, you will also hear dejar used for giving up something, such as...

Voy a dejar francés.
I'm going to quit French.

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Voluntad: A Wish, A Will

Dice que tenían... mucha capacidad o mucha voluntad, mucha fuerza.

Say that they had... a lot of capacity or a lot of will, lots of strength.

Captions 39-40, Rafael T. - Guatemala Hermosa

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Rafael T. obviously enjoys telling tales of his beautiful (hermosa) country, Guatemala. In this video, he tells us the tale of a mountain called Cerro de Oro that, back in the day -a hundred or so years ago- his ancestors managed to move inland from the coast. How did they manage to accomplish that? "They say they had a lot of capacity or a lot of will, lots of strength..." Rafael explains in captions 39-40. But despite their remarkable fuerza de voluntad ("willpower"), it turns out they were unable to move the mountain as far as they were aiming for. So, as you can see, in legends and reality, voluntad is a word to describe an intention, wish or will, but not necessarily an accomplishment.

On a related note, por mi propia voluntad -meaning "of my own free will"--is a common Spanish phrase that makes voluntad's tie to the English word "voluntary" easy to see.

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Reventar: Exploding, Annoying, and Riding Horses to Death

Reventar
transitive verb
1. (a un caballo) "to ride to death"
2. (una propuesta, huelga) "to break"
3. (molestar mucho, enfadar) "to annoy, bother": Le revienta que le lleven la contraria, "he hates it when people cross him"
4. (un globo, las costuras) "to burst"
Courtesy of
WordReference.com

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As you see in the definitions above, reventar is quite a loaded verb. Depending on the context, it can mean "to ride a horse [or some other beast of burden] to death." It can also mean "to break a strike" or "to burst a seam." But the definition we're interested in here is #3, when Muñeca Brava's housebound matriarch gives her poor son the third degree. Her son responds:

 

Me revienta que me digas "te lo dije."

I hate it when you say "I told you so."

Caption 35, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto

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You see, he hates it when his mother says, "I told you so." Really, who doesn't? And guess what mother says right after that? Te lo dije. Them's fighting words.
 

(As an aside: Did you notice that the same actress plays another cranky and bossy matriarch in Provócame? Yes, in our new clip this week she has choice words for just about everyone who enters her sight.)

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Desbordar: While Playing Soccer

Tratá siempre a desbordar y mandar centro, desbordar y mandar centro ¿eh?

Try to always overtake and kick it to the center, overtake and send it to the center, eh?

Captions 2-3, Muñeca Brava - 1 Piloto

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If you clicked on the word desbordar in caption 2 while watching the 10th installment of Muñeca Brava, you saw the most common definition -"to flood"- pop up first from our Spanish-English dictionary. But desbordar doesn't only mean to flood. Not on the soccer field, for example. It also means "to surpass; to overwhelm" -or, even more sports-specifically, "to outplay." Looking at Latin American papers' sports pages (always filled with fútbol), you'll see desbordar is a favorite verb among sportswriters. For example: Desbordar a sus rivales means "to outplay their rivals."

Back to our first scene in Muñeca Brava, the good Father/coach is directing a young player to "always try to overtake your opponent and send the ball to the center, overtake him and send it center, eh?" Sounds easier said than done.

Note: Even our native speakers aren't 100% in agreement if the priest is talking about overtaking the ball, overtaking the player, or simply "outplaying" the opposing player.
One native thought he was talking about "faking" a move, but we can't come to an agreement on that -- the distinction probably wasn't important to the tv writers, who perhaps just were aiming for some "coach talk."

 

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Despiole, Pavadas, and Tomarse el Olivo: A Mess of Olives and Turkeys?

At the estancia in Provócame, there's an obvious and deep class divide between the wealthy landowners and the support staff that takes care of all their horses and messes. Toti, the goofy stablehand sporting a gaucho cap, is definitely of the lower class. He speaks in a way they don't teach you in school. When Toti gossips with a fellow staffer and her daughter, some knowledge of local slang is needed.

 

¿Lo dejó plantado a Mariano? -Sí, se tomó el olivo.

She stood Mariano up? -Yes, she took off.

Caption 22, Provócame - Piloto

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No sabés el despiole que hay en esa casa... ¡Impresionante!

You have no idea what a mess there's in that house... impressive!

Caption 23, Provócame - Piloto

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So, what did he say? Se tomó el olivo literally means "She took the olive," but the slangy significance, which is made clear to all in the context, is that the would-be bride "took off--skedaddled".

Toti calls the resulting scene a despiole, which is a slangy way of saying "mess" (lío or desorden). [Note Toti also uses this distinctly Argentine word in Part 6, so it might be a favorite of his.]

 

Buah, era esa pavadita que venía a contar... Chau.

Well, it was that little silliness I came to tell... Bye.

Caption 24, Provócame - Piloto

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Pavo, you may have discovered one Thursday in late November (if you're a Yank), is "turkey," a pavero is a "turkey farmer" and a pavada is a "flock of turkeys," but figuratively una pavada is "a silly thing." So when Toti says "era esa pavadita venia a contar..." he is telling Marisol and Julieta "that was the silly little thing I came to tell." [Che, there's contar again!]

 

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The Verb Contar in Spanish

Are you familiar with the verb contar and its meanings in Spanish? Beyond its most common translations, which we'll be sure to reveal, this extremely useful verb is used in many additional ways. Let's take a look at some of them. 

 

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Contar for Telling 

One of the most common meanings of contar is "to tell." Let's see this in action:

 

Abuelo, te voy a contar un secreto.

Grandpa, I'm going to tell you a secret.

Caption 9, Guillermina y Candelario Mi Primer Tesoro

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Soy Rosa Chaparro y os voy a contar la historia de Mika.

I'm Rosa Chaparro, and I'm going to tell you the story of Mika.

Caption 2, Rosa La perrita Mika

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Contar for Counting 

We also use the verb contar when we want to quantify, or "count," things:

 

Y vamos contando cuántas hierbas tenemos, ¿sí?

And we're counting how many herbs we have, right?

Caption 47, Otavalo Proyecto familiar Kawsaymi - Part 7

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That said, we hope it is now clear that it's one thing contar los números (to count numbers) and another, very different thing contar historias (to tell stories). Context, however, should make it perfectly clear which meaning is meant, which we can see in these two clips from our friend Luis Guitarra:

 

Para contar los números, podemos usar los dedos de nuestras manos.

To count the numbers, we can use the fingers on our hands.

Captions 5-6, Luis Guitarra Aprendiendo a contar

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Con él, yo aprendí a contar historias.

With him, I learned to tell stories.

Caption 71, Luis Guitarra Influencias musicales - Part 1

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Contar con as an Alternative toTener (to Have)

Rafael, the speaker in the following clips, consistently uses the verb contar coupled with the preposition con where we might have expected to hear tener (to have). Let's take a look:

 

Cuando uno ya cuenta con familia...

When you already have a family...

Caption 11, Rafael T. - Viaje al norte

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Yo cuento con una... con una farmacia, con una mini-farmacia.

I own a... a pharmacy, one mini-pharmacy.

Caption 18, Rafael T. - Viaje al norte

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Although its literal meaning is "to count with," when Rafael uses contar con to talk about a family, he means when one "has" a family, while this same verb has been translated as "own" in the example regarding the pharmacy. Let's check out another clip from our friend Fermín:

 

Por supuesto, tenemos la suerte de contar con una señora británica que se encarga de controlar que los gatos callejeros que viven aquí

Of course, we are lucky enough to have a British lady who's in charge of making sure that the alley cats who live here

Captions 20-21, Fermín y los gatos Mis gatas vecinas

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So, we see that "to have" or "to own" are both acceptable translations for contar con.  

 

Contar con in a Different Context

On the other hand, if someone asks "¿Puedo contar contigo?" they don't want to know if they can "have" you, but rather whether they can "count on" you. Let's look at a couple of examples of contar con with this meaning.

 

cuente con mi apoyo y con la embajada para lo que se le ofrezca.

count on my support and on the embassy for whatever you need.

Caption 42, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 4 - Part 4

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sabes que puedes contar conmigo, ¿sí? -Bueno.

you know that you can count on me, OK? -OK.

Caption 71, Muñeca Brava 36 La pesquisa - Part 6

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Sin Contar con (Something)

And finally, sin contar or sin contar con, which literally mean "without counting (with)," can be utilized to express the idea of "not to mention" or "without taking into account." Let's look at a couple of clips from our series Confidencial: El rey de la estafa:

 

Eso sin contar los lujos que te debes dar

That's not to mention the luxuries you must give yourself

Caption 21, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 8

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Eso, sin contar con la publicidad que vais a recibir

That, without taking into account the publicity that you're going to get

Captions 52-53, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 5 - Part 5

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That's all for today. We hope you've enjoyed this lesson on some of the many uses of the Spanish verb contar, and don't forget to send us your suggestions and comments

 

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