Pues, no tan bien que se diga, pero más o menos me defiende un poco.
Well, not so good exactly but it more or less helps me a bit.
Caption 9, Doña Coco - La Vida De Una CocineraPlay Caption
Doña Coco is not earning enough money que se diga, which literally translates to something like "it might be said." However, que se diga (commonly expressed as que digamos) is in fact a colloquial expression which has approximately the same meaning as precisamente ("precisely" or "exactly"), and is often used to mitigate negative statements, as we see here.
No me siento muy bien que se diga.
I don't exactly feel good.
El pollo no está muy rico que digamos.
The chicken isn't exactly very tasty.
Note that if we add "ni" we get the expression "ni que se diga," which is the Spanish equivalent to "Let's not even go there."
Los alumnos de cuarto grado son ruidosos. Los de quinto, ni que se diga!
The fourth grade students are noisy. As for the fifth graders, let's not even go there!
In Mexico City, our Amigos D.F. return to tell us something about arquitectura (architecture) in el D.F. (in Mexico City, that is). Indicating a nearby building, we hear:
O sea, abajo es una zona comercial, todo lo que vendría a ser la planta baja... y arriba, allá, son este... departamentos residenciales.
I mean, below it's a commercial area, everything that would be the ground level... and above, there, are umm... residential apartments.
Captions 29-31, Amigos D.F. - ArquitecturaPlay Caption
Despite the rambling nature of this unscripted dialogue, it's easy enough to understand that there are commercial businesses on the ground floor of this building and residential apartments above. If the building has an elevator, pressing the p.b. (planta baja) button will take you to street level.
Push "1" in the same elevator and you'll end up on what's referred to as the "second floor" in New York or Miami. You see, in Spain and in Latin America, "el primer piso" is "the first floor *above* the ground level."
¿Dónde está ubicado el restaurante? -En el primer piso.
Where is the restaurant located? -On the first floor.
Captions 71-72, Cleer y Lida - Recepción de hotelPlay Caption
So, let's take this language lesson up a step. Say you want to visit your Mexican friend in his apartment up on "2." That's el segundo piso ("the second floor"). You see, you rarely hear la segunda planta or la primera planta outside of architectural drawings. In everyday speech, you'll usually hear pisos instead of plantas describe floors 1 through, well, the sky's the limit.
¿Ves ese edificio que esta ahí al frente? En el segundo piso, de ahí subís y ahí es tu salón.
Do you see that building that's over there in front? On the second floor, you go up there and there's your classroom.
Captions 48-49, La Sucursal del Cielo - Capítulo 1Play Caption
A final note on arquitectura: Departamento is the word of choice for Latin American apartments. Meanwhile, over in Spain, you'll typically hear apartamento.
On the Venezuelan shore, Francisco expresses his deep appreciation for the wild, natural beauty of his surroundings. In front of the camera, Francisco hesitates a few times, but it's not from lack of conviction. He's simply buying time to find the right word. For example:
Los arrecifes... la... la... el fondo marino en... en sí que es demasiado increíble.
The reefs... the... the... the ocean floor it'... itself is too incredible.
Captions 7-8, Playa Adícora - Francisco - Part 4Play Caption
One might take pause upon hearing en sí because those two words separately can mean "in" and "yes." But sí with an accent over the i is not just an affirmation; it's also a reflexive personal pronoun (short for sí mismo / sí misma) meaning himself, herself, itself, oneself, yourself (as in the formal usted), yourselves (ustedes) or themselves -- depending on the context.
Lo leyó para sí misma.
She read it to herself. [not out loud]
Cada uno debe hacerlo por sí mismo.
Each person has to do it himself or herself.
Solía pensar por sí mismo; no era influenciado por los tan llamados expertos.
He used to think for himself; he wasn't influenced by the so-called experts.
¡Venga y compruébelo por sí mismo!
Come and check it out for yourself!
Let's look back at our original example and home in on the idiom en sí, which means the same thing as en sí mismo (English translations: "in itself" or "in and of itself" or simply "itself").
El trabajo en sí no era interesante, pero le daba la posibilidad de viajar.
The job itself wasn't interesting, but it gave him the opportunity to travel.
Amor es bueno en sí naturalmente,
Love in itself is naturally good,
[from Juan Boscán's Sonnet, a sixteenth century poem]
You will also find it interesting to note that volver en sí, which we might be tempted to translate as "to come back to one's self," is an expression that means "to regain consciousness / to come to." It can also mean "to come around," as in "to realize the truth."
Si no vuelve en sí pronto, debemos llevarlo a un hospital.
If he doesn't come to soon, we must take him to a hospital.
Por suerte volvió en sí y se dió cuenta que era una locura.
Luckily he came around and realized it was a crazy idea.
This lesson has valor en sí misma, if you ask us!
Going to the private party where The Ramones were performing for the first time ever ended up changing the life of painter/artist Arturo Vega. Our featured video interview with Vega captures the story.
Entonces yo fui porque, pues, era una fiesta, ¿verdad? Y Dee Dee me caía bien.
So I went because, well, it was a party, right? And I liked Dee Dee.
Caption 52, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 3Play Caption
So, students following the subtitles of this interview may choose to click the Spanish words that they don't know for Yabla's handy dictionary definitions. It happens that if they clicked caía, the dictionary would reveal that it's a third-person past tense of the verb caer. And what does caer mean?:
All these definitions are true, but what about "liking someone" -- as the verb is used here? Turns out that in Spanish, to say you like someone, you basically say that someone, well, falls well for (or, to) you. That is to say, Me cae bien means "I like him/ her" or "He/she made a good impression on me."
Conversely, Me cae mal means "I don't like him/her."
You may be wondering if he might have used the verb gustar, which also can be used to indicate liking something or someone. However, when using gustar to refer to people, there can be romantic/sexual connotations. Using caer bien eliminates any potential misunderstanding, as it refers to a purely platonic attraction.
In your travels through the Spanish speaking world you will undoubtedly come across other interesting uses of caer.
Cualquier cosa te caigo más tarde, ¿vale?
Anyway, I might drop by later, OK?
Caption 34, Confidencial: Asesino al Volante - Capítulo 1Play Caption
No puedes caer así sin avisar. (slang)
You can't drop by like that without calling.
Siempre es igual, le cuentas un chiste y cae media hora más tarde.
It's always the same, tell him a joke and he gets it a half hour later.
You can get to me / I can't resist you
[song title, La Gusana Ciega - Me Puedes]
The song title for La Gusana Ciega's new video may at first sound like an incomplete phrase. After all, it's common to see the verb poder (to be able to) conjugated with a direct object -- as in, me puedes -- followed by another verb in the infinitive, such as Me puedes ayudar, (You can help me) -- or, with question marks, ¿Me puedes ayudar? (Can you help me?).
So, when encountering me puedes on its own, one may struggle to find sense in "you can me." (You can what me?) But the verb poder can also mean "to be stronger than," or "to have power over," which will give us "You are stronger than me / You have power over me" or, seen from another angle, "I can't resist you."
To investigate further, we went straight to the source, Daniel Gutierrez, lyricist/vocalist/guitarist of La Gusana Ciega. We asked him what he had in mind when he titled the song "Me puedes." Daniel, who speaks English quite well, replied and told us how the title ties into the song's refrain of me vas a ver llorar (you're going to see me cry):
It would be sort of a YOU GET TO ME referring to "you can make me cry" if you want.
¡Gracias, Daniel! If only we could always contact all our video stars directly. Alas, no podemos.
La curiosidad me pudo y fui a ver el combate de lucha.
Curiosity got to me [got the best of me] and I went to see the wrestling match.
Está bien, me puedes... vamos a ir al zoológico el domingo.
Alright, I can't say no [to you]... we'll go to the zoo on Sunday.
Estoy a régimen, pero la torta de chocolate me puede.
I'm on a diet, but I can't resist chocolate cake.
¡Ese chico me puede!
I'm crazy for that boy! [can't resist him]
Esta niña me puede... no pude decirle que no.
I can't resist this girl [her charms]... I couldn't say no to her.
Cuando llegué estaba enojada, pero esa sonrisa me puede...
When I arrived I was angry, but I can't resist that smile...
NOTE: You might be wondering if it's therefore possible to say te puedo for "you can't resist me." But our translators inform us that native speakers don't do this, and probably wouldn't understand it if you attempted to convey this sentiment like that.
If you want to say, "Let's get to the point" in Spanish, you say, "Vamos al grano." Remember the word "grano" mentioned earlier in this newsletter? It's a noun that means "grain" (e.g., a grain of cereal or sand), "bean" (as in a coffee bean) or "pimple" (a spot on the skin -- as we used it above).
Based on the individual words, you might think "vamos al grano" meant "let's go to the grain" if you didn't know the expression. But in standard Spanish from both Spain and Latin America, "vamos al grano" is commonly understood to mean "let's get to the substance of something" (pushing aside all superfluous niceties or meaningless details).
The lyrics to Risa from Babasónicos include the phrase (with the verb "ir" in its subjunctive form):
Algo en tus labios color carmín
Something in your carmine lips
Sugiere que vayamos al grano
Suggests we get to the point
Captions 16-17, Babasónicos - RisaPlay Caption
Another way we might say that in English is "let's cut to the chase" or "let's not beat around the bush."
We stumbled upon some more useful phrases containing "grano" (or its diminutive "granito"):
apartar el grano de la paja
to separate the wheat from the chaff
hacer una montaña de un grano de arena
to make a mountain out of a molehill (Hint: "arena" means "sand")
poner su granito de arena
to do one's bit / add one's two cents
And that's our granito de arena for now. Enjoy the videos.
In our latest live concert footage of Belanova, lead singer Denisse Guererro turns to the audience and asks:
Este mundo gira y algún día ha de morir
This world spins and someday it shall die
pero contigo -¿Cómo dice, Guadalajara?
but with you -How does it go, Guadalajara?
Captions 28-29, Belanova - Tus ojosPlay Caption
The crowd responds by singing along to the well known song. North of the border, concertgoers might hear the words "How does it go?" to provoke a similar sing-along.
But wait. Most of you know the verb decir most often means "to say" or "to tell." It's ir that typically means "to go." A literal-minded translation of ¿Cómo dice? might be something more like "What does [it / the song / the tune] say?"
When we asked around, we gathered some more examples of English phrases in which "go" is best expressed in Spanish with decir. Here they are:
As the song goes
Como dice la canción
As the saying goes
Como dice el refrán
So the story goes
So the argument goes (reputedly)
Según se dice
Hearing "decir" used in this context, it becomes much easier to understand another new music video. In "Llora mi corazón," La Secta Allstar leads into their own refrain with:
And it [i.e., the song's refain] goes [like this:]...
Caption 6, La Secta - Llora mi corazónPlay Caption
So, how does La Secta's refrain go?
Puerto Rican band Circo remind us that a suspicion is, by definition, not the same as a confirmed fact. Here's the refrain:
No es lo mismo una sospecha que saberlo de verdad
A suspicion isn't the same as knowing it for sure
No es saberlo de verdad lo mismo que una sospecha
Knowing it for sure isn't the same as a suspicion
Captions 7-8, Circo - La sospechaPlay Caption
The repeated refrain is reminiscent of a series of jokes in Spanish that start "No es lo mismo [decir]..." ("It's not the same [to say]..."). For example:
No es lo mismo decir: "me río en el baño" que "me baño en el río."
And the English translation?
It's not the same to say: "I laugh in the bathroom" as "I bathe in the river."
And that's funny? Well, the little joke is hinged on the fact that the verbs "reirse" ("to laugh") and "bañarse" ("to bathe") have conjugations that sound just like the nouns "el río" ("the river") and "el baño" ("the bathroom"). And that's why flipping the words around is un chiste (a joke) only in Spanish. Just try translating a groan-worthy English "knock-knock" joke into another language...
You can find dozens more "no-es-lo-mismo" chistes online with a simple search.
Asked about his influences in the arts, Arturo Vega gives a long, thoughtful answer that includes one particular verb phrase over and over. Here are the excerpts:
Después de la actuación... me di cuenta que... mi talento o mi vocación... era mejor... lo visual.
After acting... I realized that... my gift or my vocation... was really good at... the visual.
Captions 10-13, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2Play Caption
Me he dado cuenta que mi manera de percibir y de valorizar...
I have found that my way of perceiving and appreciating...
Captions 14-15, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2Play Caption
Pero a mí... yo me di cuenta que no era nada más... cuestión de que yo estaba absorbiendo o que me gustaba...
But for me... I realized that it was not just... [a] question of me capturing or of me liking...
Captions 19-20, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2Play Caption
...sino que me di cuenta que podía hacer algo con la información visual.
...but that I realized that I could do something with visual information.
Caption 22, Arturo Vega -Entrevista - Part 2Play Caption
Y... y me da... me di cuenta del gusto...
And... and it gives me... I became aware of the pleasure...
Caption 24, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2Play Caption
Me di cuenta que no tienes que por qué [sic] saber dibujar ni pintar para...
I realized that you don't need to know how to draw or paint in order to...
Caption 31, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2Play Caption
Through repetition, you learn. Here our lesson is clear: Darse cuenta = "to realize". Yes, it's used often, you must realize.
Even native speakers have no end of trouble with the distinction between aun and aún. In fact, this newsletter was instigated when our chief proofreader removed the accents she found on the u's in Belanova's title refrain Y aun así te vas. The band's own CD shows an accent on the u, so we were dubious. Ultimately, she convinced us that there should be no accent on the u in the phrase aun así. Hopefully the following will convince you too!
Revolvimos los planetas
We stirred the planets
Y aun así te vas
And even so you leave
Captions 16-17, Belanova - Y aun así te vasPlay Caption
Aun así is a Spanish idiom, or usage expression, meaning "even so", "still" or "yet." We could have equally well translated the line as "And still you leave," or "And yet you leave."
Hace frío afuera, aun así ella no se pone un abrigo.
It's cold outside, yet she won't wear a coat.
No tengo mucho dinero, pero aun así voy a comprar la computadora.
I don't have much money, but still I'm going to buy the computer.
Habíamos pagado por la habitación y aun así tuvimos que buscar otro hotel.
We had paid for the room and yet we had to look for another hotel.
Aun así, creo que deberías disculparte.
Even so, I think you should apologize.
The word aun, by itself, and with no accent over the u, and not followed by así, can often be translated as "even."
No como torta, aun en mi cumpleaños.
I don't eat cake, even for my birthday.
Aun cuando lo leyera, no lo entendería.
I wouldn't understand it, even if I read it.
Ni aun sabiendo la dirección llegarías a su casa.
Not even knowing the address would you find his house.
Can you see how when we put aun together with así ("like this" / "this way"), we get something along the lines of "even like this" / "even this way"? Or, more concisely, "even so"? Diccionario de Uso del Español, by María Moliner, a favorite of professional translators, goes deeper:
"AUN ASÍ" Expresión adverbial de significado adversativo, ya que expresa oposición entre el resultado real de la circunstancia expresada por "así" y el que podría esperarse de ella. "Aun así no llegaís a tiempo"
"AUN ASÍ" Adverbial phrase with adversative meaning since there is a contrast between the actual outcome of that circumstance expressed by "así" and the expected result. "And still / yet you are not on time"
If that's a bit too deep, ¡no importa! (don't worry), just remember the basic meaning and you'll be fine!
Aún, with the accent on the ú, means "up until the present moment" and is basically synonymous with todavía. Confusingly enough, aún is also defined as "yet," "still," but in the temporal sense (as opposed to when they mean "even so" / aun así).
¿Aún estás aquí?
¿Todavía estás aquí?
Are you still here?
Aún no ha llamado.
Todavía no ha llamado.
She hasn’t called yet.
Ya son las once y aún no ha llamado.
Ya son las once y todavía no ha llamado.
It’s already eleven o’clock and she still hasn’t called.
¿Has tenido noticias? —Aún no
¿Has tenido noticias? —Todavía no
Have you had any news? — Not yet.
Let's continue with Arturo Vega's tentative arrival in New York:
Y vine primeramente en el sesenta y nueve para ver qué onda, a ver qué tal estaba Nueva York.
And I first came in sixty-nine to see what was going on, to see how New York was.
Captions 70-71, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 1Play Caption
"¿Qué onda?" It's a common question in Mexico and elsewhere in the Spanish-speaking world. It's even a common greeting. If you took it literally, the question sounds like "What wave?" -since "qué" (with an accented é) means "what" and "onda" means "wave," technically speaking. While "de onda corta" is "shortwave," as in shortwave radio, note that "onda" can also mean "vibe" informally. And so "qué onda" can mean, basically, "what's up" or "what's going on," as our translators have it. ("What vibe" sounds silly in English.)
Onda in this informal sense seems to have originated in Mexican colloquial speech and is used in a wide variety of ways. This usage has spread throughout Latin America but, by most accounts, continues to be most common in the place it originated.
Note that ola is also a word for "wave," and this is the word used to describe the things that slap the beach. If you talk about an onda when describing a body of water, most native Spanish speakers will take it that you mean a "ripple." So, next time you visit Puerto Escondido, note that a surfista is certainly riding las olas, but might be staying at Cabañas la Buena Onda (The Good Vibe Cabanas) -- which are still so pure that they don't appear to have a website, but we guarantee you they exist (find them at La Punta, "The Point").
Chatting with Arturo Vega, the artistic director of the seminal New York rockers The Ramones, we learn he's from Chihuahua, Mexico (yes, the namesake of those tiny Taco Bell / Paris Hilton dogs). We also learn that he came to the U.S. in "los sesentas" ["the sixties"] -- as in, "los años sesenta." In fact, in just over six minutes of chatting in front of the camera, Vega mentions "los sesentas" four times (in captions 29, 30, 40 and 50, to be precise).
En los sesentas empecé a viajar y por supuesto en los sesentas era más atractivo ir a lugares como San Francisco, California
In the sixties I started to travel and of course in the sixties it was more attractive to go to places like San Francisco, California
Captions 29-30, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 1Play Caption
But the grammar police say that Vega gets it wrong four times: In proper Spanish, the decades are supposed to be singular, so it's los sesenta (short for los años sesenta).
Well, let's give Vega the benefit of the doubt. You see, Anglicisms in Spanish are increasingly popular. By "Anglicism" here we are referring to the application of a rule of English grammar to Spanish. Besides making decades plural, as an Anglicism, you may hear some family names pluralized in Spanish as the are in English. For example: Los Ramones (as uttered by our interviewer in caption 37) is technically the incorrect way to refer to the members of the fictional Ramone family.
Y... aquí fue donde... conociste a Los Ramones
And... it was here where... you came to know the Ramones
Captions 36-37, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 1Play Caption
(Granted, "los Ramone" does not echo the name of the legendary band....) Note: the band members each took the last name "Ramone" as stage names, but these neighborhood pals from Queens were not, in fact, related, nor born with this surname.
Tip: If you want to hear a more traditional translation of a famous U.S. family into Spanish, tune into Los Simpson. (Yup: it's singular: "Simpson.")
In the song's refrain, there's another example of a common verb used in a secondary sense.
Si dos ya no se llevan bien
If two don't get along [well]
Caption 11, Jeremías - Uno y uno igual a tresPlay Caption
The first definition you'll probably learn for the common verb llevar is "to carry." Learn the nuances of this versatile verb and you'll find this construction:
Llevarse bien/mal con alguien
"To get on well/badly with somebody"
For more examples -- and more nuances of llevar -- you could check out:
ThoughtCo. > Spanish language > Using llevar
The verb prestar (which means "to lend") has some different uses in Spanish than the verb "lend" does in English. For an example, let's turn to Chober, chatting on the beach in Venezuela in this week's new interview.
Y buenos, el destino final es prestar un servicio donde la gente pueda degustar gastronomía local...
And well, the final objective is to provide a service where people can taste local gastronomy...
Captions 37-38, Playa Adícora - ChoberPlay Caption
If you translated the above quotation and decided 'prestar un servicio' was "to lend a service," you'd still get the gist of the sentence. But your English might sound a little stilted. Same holds true of this common phrase in Spanish:
To lend attention? Well, in modern English we'd say "to pay attention."
For more Spanish phrases containing prestar, see:
WordReference.com > prestar
...vestía la ropa con la que tú sólo puedes soñar
...she wore clothes that you can only dream about
Caption 15, La Mala Rodriguez - La NiñaPlay Caption
In caption 10 of María's song La Niña we are told that the protagonist wore clothes "con la que tú sólo puedes soñar," (that you can only dream about). Soñar is the infinitive "to dream" and of course is related to the word for dreams themselves, sueños. The tilde (~) over the n tells us that this n is pronounced with the "palatal nasal sound" or [ny], like what we hear when we say the English word "canyon" (which is, appropriately, cañón in Spanish). Soñar, therefore, is pronounced [sonyar].
Being a rapper and therefore a poet, it's no surprise that a few lines later she ends another line with a very similar looking infinitive.
Te llaman, te llaman, tu teléfono no deja de sonar
They call you, they call you, your phone doesn't stop ringing
Caption 19, La Mala Rodriguez - La NiñaPlay Caption
By dropping the ~ over the n in soñar we get sonar, which means "to sound" and also, as in this case means "to ring." Because there is no tilde over the n, the word is pronounced with the standard [n] sound we are used to in English. As so often happens, in this case the infinitive sonar is best translated into English using the present participle ("ing") form of the verb, which gives us "ringing."
This week we also offer the eighth installment of De Consumidor a Persona ("From Consumer to Person"), from Spain, a probing look at tough environmental questions. In this clip, we hear:
Es decir, se trata de vincular la misma actividad que uno tiene pues para...
That is, it is about linking the same activity that one has, well, to...
trabajar por la abolición de la deuda externa.
to work for the abolition of the foreign debt.
Captions 37-38, De consumidor a persona - Short Film - Part 8Play Caption
We've discussed the versatile verb tratar ("to treat" or "to attempt to") in this space before. But we didn't yet touch on the common construction tratarse de [algo] ("to be about [something]"), which is seen in the phrase above.
Here's a common question:
¿De que se trata?
What is it about?
And one possible answer:
Yabla Spanish se trata de gente interesante.
Yabla Spanish is about interesting people.
Got that? Have a look at an interesting discussion of the phrase, found here.
Nos encontramos aquí en Adícora desde enero... desde el nueve de enero,
We are here in Adícora since January... since January ninth,
y terminamos nuestro trabajo de grado en abril, a finales de abril.
and we'll finish our thesis in April, at the end of April.
Captions 18-22, Patricia Marti - Estudios Médicos - Part 1Play Caption
With all Patricia's talk of school requirements, you could be forgiven for initially thinking 'a finales de abril' referred to her final exams. But the phrase actually means "at the end of April" or "around the end of April." And so, the quote cited above is translated as: "....and we'll finish our thesis in April, at the end of April."
If Patricia's project were to be delayed, she might say:
...terminamos nuestro trabajo de grado a principios de mayo
...terminamos nuestro trabajo de grado a mediados de mayo
As you probably guessed, those two phrases above mean "around the beginning of May" and "around the middle of May" respectively.
If she wanted to be even more vague, Patricia could also use the common phrase a mediados de año which means "around the middle of the year." As an adjective, mediado(a) means "half-full" or "half-empty," depending on how you look at it.
Aplicarle la palabra "solidario" a las finanzas tiene que ver con que todo el mundo pueda acceder a ese... elemento de intermediación que es el dinero para poder hacer lo que de verdad importa ¿no?
Applying the word "solidarity" to finance has to do with everybody being able to access that... element of intermediation, which is money, to be able to do what's really important, no?
Captions 51-54, De consumidor a persona - Short Film - Part 6Play Caption
There are some complicated thoughts being expressed in this short film about the social consequences of consumerism. The number of verbs in the above quote alone could make your head spin. But here we want to home in on just two of those verbs, joined together in a common phrase: tener que ver.
In Spanish, tiene que ver con means, basically, "has to do with" or "got to do with" in English. But, of course, ver means "to see" and not "to do" (that's hacer). That's just the way it is.
En este cuadro, represento a Bachué, que tiene que ver con la cultura muisca de las montañas en Colombia.
In this painting, I represent Bachué, who has to do with the Muiscan culture from the mountains in Colombia.
Captions 16-17, Beatriz Noguera - Exposición de ArtePlay Caption
¿Y eso qué tiene que ver?
What's that got to do with it? [Or, more simply:] So what?
No tiene nada que ver.
It's got nothing to do with it.
One of the points that comes across loud and clear in the film De consumidor a person is that a lot of social issues have to do with $money$ (el dinero). Eso es la verdad. ("That's the truth.")