Spanish Lessons

Topics

Ser Ganso, Ir a los bifes: Don't be a fool--go for it!

Cuando las minas te piden tiempo, lo que en realidad quieren decir es que no seas más ganso y que vayas directamente a los bifes.
[Captions 4-5, Verano Eterno > Fiesta Grande > 7]

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

¿Que quieren decir? Ok, here's a generalization about men: Whenever you hear men make generalizations about women, be very skeptical! In our newest 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 4-5, as quoted above): "When women 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".

Continue Reading

Darse Cuenta: The real "realize"

¿No te das cuenta que este caballo me quería atacar?
[Caption 9 > Pilot, 16 > Provócame]

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

An age-old mistake amongst English speakers is to want to use the verb realizar as a means of conveying "to come to know" or "to realize." Of course, most of you know by now that this is a false cognate and that realizar usually means "to achieve," "to bring into fruition," and the like. In fact, the correct way to say "to realize" is darse cuenta. What Ana Laura is asking in caption 9, then, is "Didn't you realize that this horse wanted to attack me?"

¡Me robaron y no me di cuenta!
"I was robbed and I didn't notice!"

Continue Reading

Dejar: Stop leaving

Tú me quieres dejar, y yo no quiero sufrir.
[Caption 8, Javier García > EPK > Part 1]

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

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, eleven captions later we find the imperative (command) form of the same verb being sung to a different tune...

Deja de correr, tranquila
[Caption 19, Javier García > Interview]

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, te deja por el suelo.
[Caption 2, Javier García > La Rumba]

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 "will leave 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."

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

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."

Continue Reading

Voluntad: A wish, a will

dice que tenían... mucha capacidad o mucha voluntad, mucha fuerza
caption 30, Rafael T. > Guatemala Hermosa

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Rafael T. obviously enjoys telling tales of his beautiful (hermosa) country, Guatemala. In this week's new content, he tells us the tale of a mountain called Cerro de Oro that, back in the day -a hundred or so years ago- his 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 caption 30. 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.

Continue Reading

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

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

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"
[Caption 32, Provócame > Pilot > 14]

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.)

Continue Reading

Desbordar: While playing soccer

Tratá siempre a desbordar y mandar centro, desbordar y mandar centro, ¿eh?
[Caption 2, Muñeca Brava > Pilot > 10]

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

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 get agreement on that -- the distinction probably wasn't important to the tv writers, who perhaps just were aiming for some "coach talk."

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Continue Reading

Despiole, Pavadas, and Tomarse el Olivo: A mess of olives and turkeys?

On 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.

Sí, se tomó el olivo
[Caption 22, Provócame > Pilot > 14]

No sabés el despiole que hay en esa casa...
[Caption 23, Provocome > Pilot > 14]

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

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--skadoodled".

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.]

era esa pavadita venía a contar...
caption 24, Provocome > Pilot > 14

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 venía a contar... he is telling Marisol and Julieta "that was the silly little thing I came to tell." [Che, there's contar again!]

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Continue Reading

Contar: Counting and Recounting

Y yo te voy a contar lo que pienso hacer con el empleo nuevo.
[Caption 17, Muñeca Brava > Pilot > 9]


...este historia que voy a contar
[Caption 2,
Rafael T. - Journey North]

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Contar, such an interesting verb, shows up in three of our new videos, but used in different ways. One of the most common meanings is of contar is "to tell" or "to relate." So, in Muñeca Brava, when Federico's cuñado says ...and yo te voy a contar lo que pienso hacer con el empleo nuevo, we translate it as "and I'm going to tell you what I have in mind for the new job."

Likewise, when our friend Rafael, in his monologue Journey North, says ...este historia que voy a contar, he is talking about relating his tale, "...this story that I am going to tell."

Rafael also consistently uses contar where we might have expected to hear a form of tener (to have), but when he does so he couples it with the preposition con.

cuando uno ya cuenta con familia...
[Caption 10, Rafael T. - Journey North
]

Yo cuento con una farmacia...
[Caption 15,
Rafael T. - Journey North]

When he tells us cuando uno ya cuenta con familia, he means "when one has [a] family" and when he says Yo cuento con una farmacia... we translate it as "I have a pharmacy."

¿Entonces puedo contar contigo para eso?
[Caption 49, Provócame > Pilot > 14
]

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Of course, the first dictionary definition of contar is "to count," as in contando ovejas when you have insomnio . You can also count on someone or something to perform in a certain way for you, and for this we once again find contar+con. When Chayanne asks ¿...puedo contar contigo para eso?, he doesn't want to know "...can I have you for this," but rather, "...can I count on you for this?"

Continue Reading

Nena: Not just for babies

nena, nena... nena, nena... nena, nena... nena, nena....
[Caption 17, Bloque > Nena
]

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Anyone who sees the video Nena by the Colombian band Bloque, even once, will be quite certain that the word nena means "baby." It can also be translated "babe," as in, "hey babe, get me a beer." Nena is the feminine form of nene, which has the same meaning but is used when referring to a male. Try these out next time you encounter an actual bebé (or when you need un trago.)

Continue Reading

Estudiantil: Catching authentic Spanish mistakes

Remember, amigos, we present you with authentic Spanish here at LoMásTv, and Taimur is a second grader auténtico, which means our young friend is entitled to make a grammatical mistake or two himself, ¿verdad? (Not to mention that Spanish is also his second language.)
 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

In caption 16 of "Taimur Sings" he says Soy muy estudiantil, and, similarly, you may have noted that in "Taimur Talks" he states yo soy muy estudiante. It's clear that Taimur enjoys school and studies hard, and no doubt his teachers and parents notice that él es un estudiante muy estudioso ("He is very studious student").


The word estudiante is the noun for "student," so Taimur probably should have said Soy un buen estudiante, "I'm a good student." Or he might have chosen to tell us Yo soy muy estudioso, "I am very studious."

The word estudiantil is the adjective for "student," so a student run organization is an organización estudiantil, students who travel are engaging in turismo estudiantil, between classes young scholars might relax in a sálon estudiantil, and students who protest, if they have an effective leader, might create a full-fledged movimiento estudiantil.

Continue Reading

"Se"+indirect object+verb+direct object: Accidental grammar

Se te acabó el tiempo, Milagros
[Caption 34, Muñeca Brava > Pilot > 8]

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

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."

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

De repente, a Pablo se le ocurrió una idea. (ocurrírsele)
"
Suddenly, an idea ocurred to Pablo.
"

 
 

 

Continue Reading

Tirarse todo el ropero encima: Overdressed

se tiró todo el ropero encima...
[Caption 37, Prov
ócame - Pilot - Part 12]

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

The scene is a high society wedding. Two women are talking conspiratorially. A third woman walks by, they say "Hi" but then quickly comment and giggle to each other. You know they just said something catty, but what was it? Here's the replay: "¿Está Loca? Se tiró todo el ropero encima." ("Is she crazy? She threw on her whole wardrobe.") In all likelihood the victim of this verbal assault was not wearing everything she owned. However, with her estola ("stole"), joyas de oro ("gold jewelry") and vestido sin tirantes ("strapless dress"), the gossips want to say that she is overdressed

 

Continue Reading

Pa': A shortcut for "Para"

...vine pa' 'cá...
caption 11, Interviews > Taimur Talks

...voy pa' allá...
caption 20, Interviews > Taimur Talks

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Outside a Spanish classroom -say, on the streets or on the radio- it's very common to hear pa' in place of para ("for, towards, to a destination"). Interviewing young Taimur in a middle class neighborhood of Coro, Venezuela, a whole series of pa' pa' pa's are heard to drive home the point. "Vine pa' 'cá" ("Vine para acá") means "I came [to] here." "Voy pa' allá" means "I'll go [to] there." In both cases, pa' indicates the destination.

Looking for other examples? In the intro to Shakira's ubiquitous song La Tortura, "pa' ti" is the fast way to say "for you." In fact, if you search for "pa' 'cá," "pa' allá" or "pa' ti" on the Internet, you'll be inundated with letras (song lyrics) from the Spanish-speaking parts of the Caribbean down to the tip of Chile and even over in Spain.

Continue Reading

Casting: A word as Spanish as English

...lo que hoy llamamos castings...
[caption 17, Biografía > Muñeca Brava's Natalia Oreiro > Part 3]

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

In this chapter of the life of actress Natalie Oreiro, the English word "casting" or plural "castings" is heard not once, but four times. (Note that casting's 'i' follows its Spanish pronunciation rules and is pronounced like a long "e" in English, kind of like "casteeng.") In our Spanish-to-Spanish dictionary, casting (noun) is defined as "selección de personas para actuar en una película, un anuncio publicitario, etc." In other words, it's similar to its Hollywood meaning.

"Casting" is but one of the many English words creeping into Spanish dictionaries these days. In Natalie's native Uruguay, one may go to el shopping (the shopping center, or, mall) to buy un smoking (a smoking jacket) to wear for el casting (the casting call). In each of these cases, the "-ing" word is considered a masculine noun in Spanish, even if it's English equivalent started as an adjective modifying another noun.

Continue Reading

—azo: a painful suffix

Es como un piedrazo en la cabeza.
[caption 26, Verano Eterno > Fiesta Grande > Part 6]

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

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
."

Continue Reading

Por y Para: Learning through love

One way to make a TV themesong irresistibly catchy is through repetition. In Chayanne's themesong for Provócame, it works. Take these two lines:

Por amor
Por amar
[Captions 9-10 and 12-13, Provócame > Pilot > 11]

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

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.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

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

Continue Reading

Forro: A word as useful as a lifesaver

¿Pero te ponés otro forro?
[Caption 36, Disputas > La Extraña Dama > 11]

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

But can you put on another what?

Many of you would be more familiar with the word condón or preservativo, two synonyms for forro in this context. In a dictionary, you'll find that forro more innocently means "cover, case or interior lining" of a ski jacket or waterproof luggage, say. But in an Argentine bedroom, forro usually refers to a "condom," as it does in this line from the show Disputas.

What's more, Graffiti all over Buenos Aires declares: Por amor usá forro -- "For love's sake, use a condom" -- as part of a grassroots campaign promoting safe sex. Another slogan in the fight against AIDS -- No seas forro, usá forro -- points to an alternate meaning of forro in local slang: "idiot."

An aside: X Amor is short for por amor because "x" is familiar to us all as the multiplication sign, and when you multiply in Spanish, you say dos por dos for "2 x 2." In a similar vein, Lo+Tv works for us because "2 + 2" is dos más dos. Keep your eyes open and you may notice lo+ used casually in place of lo más throughout the Spanish speaking world.

Continue Reading

Atinar: Attaining the right meaning

With Germain de la Fuente's old-style crooning in Como Quisiera Decirte, you just know he's gotta be singing about heartache. But what is he saying exactly?

...y así va pasando el tiempo,
sin atinar a decirte,
lo que a diario voy sintiendo...

Caption 16, Los Tetas - Como Quisiera Decirte

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

You see, the verb atinar is translated as "to be able to" / "being able to." But there's an added dose of longing and frustration attached to atinar, compared to, say, poder or even ser capaz de. Atinar often appears as part of the phrase atinar a decir and suggests the need to speak up to resolve a pressured situation -una situación de presión. One synonym is lograr, in the sense of "to manage to." Dictionaries also suggest: acertar [a], dar [en el blanco], conseguir, hallar and encontrar.

It has been suggested that atinar shares roots with the verb adivinar, "to divine or guess correctly." However, most linguists would agree that there's no easy direct translation into English for this verb, which takes on many meanings and variations that non-natives will tend to absorb naturally as they encounter them in context.

Se fue tan rápido que no atiné a decirle que se olvidó sus maletas.
"He left so fast that I didn't have the chance to tell him he forgot his suitcases."

Esta fue una inversión atinada, ganamos mucho dinero.
"This was a good (smart) investment; we earned a lot of money."

El examen es "multiple choice." Espero poder atinar las respuestas.
"The exam is multiple choice. I hope I can guess the right answers."

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

An aside: This is not Germain de la Fuente's first brush with rap. The Chilean singer's romantic warbling has also appeared in songs by the Beastie Boys and Jay-Z

Continue Reading