Spanish Lessons


Aguantar: A Whole Lot to Bear

Here's a haunting description of what it's like to be out in a field, wounded by a land mine:


Y bueno, yo aguanté hasta cierta parte, y de ahí ya no pude, el dolor me dominó.

And well, I could take it until a certain point, and from there on I couldn't anymore, the pain dominated me.

Captions 83-84, Tierra Envenenada - Desminando

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The verb aguantar is a synonym for soportar in this context. It means "to be able to endure," "to stand" or "to bear." You'll often see aguantar followed by hasta ("until") to set a limit for how much can be stood or endured. For example:

Hay que aguantar hasta mañana.
You [in an impersonal sense] have to put up with it until tomorrow.

You'll probably hear the verb aguantar used by students with heavy work loads and tough teachers, but the verb can describe truly horrific pain as well.

If you go back into the archives, you'll hear this verb used in the Disputas theme song, Me llamas, by
José Luis Perales.


Me llamas... para decirme que te marchas que ya no aguantas más... que ya estás harta...

You call me... to tell me that you're leaving that you can't take it anymore... that you're fed up...

Captions 15-18, Disputas - La Extraña Dama

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Mina: An Explosive or a Woman

This week, we've uploaded and subtitled the first installment of "La Tierra Envenenada" ("The Poisoned Land") -- a documentary describing the horrors of land mines in Central America.


Check out this short exchange between an unseen interviewer and a pedestrian (known in the business as an MOS, for "man on the street"):


Cuénteme, ¿usted sabe lo que es una mina?

Tell me, do you know what a mine is?

No, no sé... ¿Quién es?

No, I don't know... who is it?

Captions 30-31, Tierra Envenenada - Desminando

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"¿Quién es?" ("Who is it?")...

That off-the-cuff reply is kind of funny if you note that in some Latin American countries una mina is slang for "a girl" or "a woman," often with negative connotations. Regular subscribers to this service may remember that we wrote about the slang meaning of minas in Argentina back in this newsletter.

According to la Real Academia Española, the definitive Spanish-language authority, mina has many definitions. For one thing, it is a mine, as in a site where minerals are excavated. In a more military sense, it's a mine, as in an encased explosive set to detonate when disturbed. (The latter is the subject of our documentary today.) And the dictionary also acknowledges that mina is an informal synonym for una mujer in Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay. Some explosively bad puns could be made with this minefield of a word. (Sorry.)


But keep in mind that this video is introducing the very serious topic of minas antipersonales ("antipersonnel mines") and the process of desminando ("removing the mines") -- that la Organización de los Estados Americanos ("the Organization of American States") is undertaking. Listen and learn.


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