Somos dos, nunca sola vas a ir.
[Caption 17 & 28, Liquits > Desde que]
Somos dos, juntos vamos a vivir.
[Captions 19, 31 & 33, Liquits > Desde que]
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.
Se te acabó el tiempo, Milagros
[Caption 34, Muñeca Brava > Pilot > 8]
Is there anything scarier than finding an angry nun in your room late at night? In this installment of Muñeca Brava, our heroine Milagros encounters a stern Mother Superior back in her room at the orphanage after sneaking out for some night-clubbing. The nun disregards the girl’s flimsy excuses and says ominously: "Se te acabó el tiempo, Milagros."
-The declaration means: “You’ve run out of time, Milagros.” But if you look at the construction “se te acabó” -from the reflexive verb acabársele (to run out of)- it more literally means “Time has run out on you.”
We find something similar going on in caption 17 of Taimur Talks.
esos se me echaron a perder...
[Caption 17, taimur > Taimur Talks]
Our friend-for-life Taimur is tellling us "those got destroyed (on me)" or "those got wrecked (on me)." Like the good monja above, he might have put the subject last, had he wanted to: Se me echaron a perder mis cosas ("My things got wrecked").
These are examples of a special se construction used to describe unplanned or accidental occurences in Spanish. As a rule, the se + me, te, le, les or nos (indirect object) + verb construction describes occurrences that happen "to someone" (a alguien). The verb agrees with what in English is the thing acted upon (the direct object) because in Spanish that thing becomes the subject, that which is doing the action. No need to get mired in grammar, just have a look at these other examples and it should start to soak in.
Se nos está acabando el pan. (acabársele)
"We’re running out of bread. / The bread is running out on us."
Se me rompieron los anteojos. (rompérsele)
"I (accidently) broke my glasses. / My glasses broke on me."
De repente, a Pablo se le ocurrió una idea. (ocurrírsele)
"Suddenly, an idea ocurred to Pablo."
Es como un piedrazo en la cabeza.
[caption 26, Verano Eterno > Fiesta Grande > Part 6]
That's gotta hurt. In Spanish, the suffix azo can signify a blow by the object at the root of the word. So, piedrazo means a blow by a piedra, or stone. By this logic:
Bala -> "bullet"
Balazo -> "blow by a bullet; a gunshot wound."
Codo -> "elbow"
Codazo -> "blow by an elbow; nudge."
One way to make a TV themesong irresistibly catchy is through repetition. In Chayanne's themesong for Provócame, it works. Take these two lines:
[Captions 9-10 and 12-13, Provócame > Pilot > 11]
The straightforward translation is: "For love / For loving." Amor is a noun meaning "love." Meanwhile, change one letter and amar is the infinitive "to love." In Spanish, the infinitive is often used the way we in English use the gerund (with the -ing ending). For example, "I like singing" is translated as Me gusta cantar in proper Spanish.
Ok. You probably figured out quickly that the repeated por here means "for" in English. But it's a little more complicated than that. You see, there are two words that both mean "for" in Spanish: Por and para. Por can mean "for the sake of, in the cause of, or, by means of," while para can mean "with the destination of, or, in order to." In Chayenne's lyrics, por amor can be translated as "for love" in the sense of "for the sake of love" [like we saw in last week's newsletter, with por amor, usa forro ("for the sake of love, use a condom")]. That's straightforward. But some might argue Chayenne is taking a little bit of poetic license when he says por amar ("for the sake of loving") in instead of para amar, ("in order to love"), which is a more common construction with the infinitive of a verb. But, really, it works both ways - and it certainly sounds catchier with the repeated por.
Hablar por hablar.
"To talk for the sake of talking."
Aprender español para hablarlo.
"To learn Spanish in order to speak it."
You want more? See Por y Para at http://spanish.about.com/cs/grammar/a/porpara.htm
Pedro:¿Tú querías conocer a Chocolate y alguien te lo impidió?
Julieta:¿Y cómo sabés que se llama Chocolate?
[Captions 7-8, Provócame > Pilot > Part 8]
As in English, French, and no doubt countless other languages, small differences arise when we move from one region to another. Native Spanish speakers navigate through these differences with ease; non-natives can learn to do so as well. Did you catch in the interview with Enrique Iglesias (in "Music Biz Interviews") when the Argentine interviewer told Enrique how she used to hide her student cheat sheets con la pollera and Enrique immediately comes back with ¿ah, con la falda, no? She called her skirt pollera and Enrique knew it as falda. This had little bearing on their overall ability to communicate.
We see the same thing happening in this exchange between Pedro and Julieta. Pedro, who is played by the Puerto Rican pop star Chayanne, addresses Julieta throughout the show using the tú form with which all of us are quite familiar (no pun intended) -- ¿Tú querías conocer a Chocolate y alguien te lo impidió? ("You wanted to meet Chocolate and someone stopped you?"). Julieta also uses an informal singular form of "you" but, as the actress is Argentine, she uses the voseo or vos form, responding ¿Y cómo sabés que se llama Chocolate? ("And how do you know his name is Chocolate?"). The only difference in this case is the accent on the "e" (tú sabes, vos sabés).
With the notable exception of ser (vos sos, tú eres), and stem changing verbs (vos venís, tú vienes), the difference in conjugation between vos and tú in the present often involves only an accent (tú comes, vos comés). For some tenses there is no difference at all. The only reason we know Pedro intended the tú form in this particular phrase is because he says the pronoun tú explicitly, as the conjugation would have been the same for vos (tú querías, vos querías).
The most important thing to take away from this is that neither Julieta nor Pedro is impeded in the least by these slight differences in speaking styles. Both have accustomed themselves to hearing small regional differences. Through exposure to speakers from thoughout the habla hispana; we can easily do the same.
A Yabla Spanish viewer wrote to us last week about some accents where he didn't expect to find any. In Disputas, La Extraña Dama, part 4 he noticed the accented "a" on pará when the pibe commands Pará, pará? ("stop, stop.") in Caption 5. The same viewer also wondered about caption 12 when the mina (Soledad) says pedíle y vení a verme mañana ("ask him and come to see me tomorrow"). These examples highlight voseo embodiments of commands (i.e. imperative tense) -- had Sole been inclined to use tú she would have said pídele y ven a verme mañana.
No Sos Vos Soy Yo (It's not you, it's me)
(Romantic Comedy, 2004)
The voseo in depth, including its presence outside of Argentina/Uruguay/Paraguay:
No hables como si fuese una persona
[Caption 17, Provócame > Pilot > 5]
If you're a native English speaker, you're likely to translate the phrase above as "Don't speak as if he were a person." Without much thinking about it, most native English speakers choose the subjuntive "were," and not the indicative "was." Ana, similarly, instinctively uses fuese (the subjunctive form) and not era (the indicative) when she tells Mariano "Don't speak as if he were a person". (She is referring to a horse that goes by the name Chocolate.) The subjunctive, as most of us have heard but often fail to fully grasp, is used to express doubt or uncertainty, or to describe situations that are unlikely. Since it is quite "unlikely" that the horse in question is a person, and Ana, sin duda, "doubts" that he is one, she goes with the subjunctive, fuese.
This were/was distinction is one of the few and dwindling instances whereby English speakers retain a subjunctive form (were) that differs from the indicative (was). Other than "to be," most English verbs have melded both the indicative past and the subjunctive past into a single "universal" past tense that encompasses both. For this reason it's often said, somewhat erroneously, that subjunctive tenses "don't exist" anymore in English, and is why English speakers find Spanish's distinct subjunctive tenses difficult to acquire. The more we, as learners, immerse ourselves in authentic spoken Spanish, the faster we too can begin to acquire a native-like "instinct" for the subjunctive and its use.
If you want to bend your brain around the topic further, here are some sites where you can do so:
Every language has its own peculiar nuances. In Spanish, one such nuance is the formula, al + the infinitive of a verb. Let's start reviewing this formula with the following clip:
Nos confundimos al hablar sin escuchar
We get confused by speaking without listening
Caption 26, La Gusana Ciega GiroscopioPlay Caption
In Giroscopio by La Gusana Ciega, frontman Daniel Gutierrez sings: nos confundimos al hablar sin escuchar, which we have translated as "we get confused by speaking without listening."
This brings our attention to the use of al + infinitive. The English equivalent is often created by using the prepositions, "by," "when," or "upon" + the "ing" (progressive) verb form.
Let's look at some examples:
Eh... Al venir acá y compartir con tantas culturas, pues,
Um... Upon coming here and sharing with so many cultures, well,
Caption 20, Silvina Una entrevista con la artistaPlay Caption
Este fue el primer lugar visitado por nuestro Libertador Simón Bolívar, al llegar a la hacienda San Pedro Alejandrino.
This was the first place visited by our Liberator, Simon Bolivar, upon arriving at the San Pedro Alejandrino [Saint Peter of Alexandria] hacienda.
Captions 2-3, Viajando en Colombia La Quinta de Bolívar - Part 1Play Caption
Al + infinitive can alternately be translated to English using "when + simple present." For example, in this case, we could just as well have translated al hablar as "when we speak," which would give us: "we get confused when we speak without listening."
Let's look at some additional examples of al + infinitive:
Nos equivocamos al actuar sin pensar.
We make mistakes by acting without thinking.
Nos ensuciamos al jugar.
We get dirty when we play.
Te lastimas al correr sin estirarte.
You hurt yourself by running without stretching.
Se lastiman al pelear.
They hurt themselves when they fight.
Me mojo al bañarme.
I get wet when I bathe.
Se lastiman al jugar sin zapatos.
They hurt themselves by playing without shoes.
Most native English speakers would find this phrase easier to follow were Daniel to avoid the al + infinitive construction and instead sing: Nos confundimos cuando hablamos sin escuchar or Nos confundimos hablando sin eschuchar, both of which are more parallel to the typical English construction.
Although each of these possibilities is grammatically correct, they convey a slightly different meaning than the choice to employ al hablar in this lyric. While both hablando (speaking) and cuando hablamos (when we speak) would convey the sense that the speaker is referring to some specific instance or instances of "talking without listening," the use of al hablar causes the assertion to sound more like a truism or principle of life, the type of thing you might read at the end of a fable or as the moral of a story.
That's it for this lesson. We hope you enjoy it and don't forget to send us your comments and questions.