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Georgia


Jun 2, 2008, 7:43 AM

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Mental glossary

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I've lived in several Spanish-speaking countries, and some days my brain is in the wrong place. Here are some of the oddities of Spanish as spoken in different places:

When answering the telephone:
Mexico: bueno
spain: Digame
Ecuador: Que hay?
Agentina: Que hubo?

Response to someone who wants to pass by you:
Mexico: propio (this one always throws me)
Ecuador: Siga no mas
Spain: Pase Ud.

Warming to watch where you are walking, driving etc:
Mexico: Aguas!
Spain: Cuidado!
Ecuador, Colombia: Atencion!

I still haven't figured out why they say "propio" in Mexico. Anyone know?



esperanza

Jun 2, 2008, 8:26 AM

Post #2 of 32 (12410 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Mental glossary

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Response to someone who wants to pass by you:
Mexico: propio (this one always throws me)
Ecuador: Siga no mas
Spain: Pase Ud.

I still haven't figured out why they say "propio" in Mexico. Anyone know?


Because the person who wants to pass by says, "Con permiso" (excuse me). The person answering says, "Propio" (it's yours).

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Georgia


Jun 2, 2008, 9:56 AM

Post #3 of 32 (12402 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Mental glossary

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OK, Esperanza. But I think this one will always strike me as weird. Right up there with "luego, luego."


sioux4noff

Jun 2, 2008, 10:18 AM

Post #4 of 32 (12400 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Mental glossary

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Since that's the way I learned it, "propio" makes sense to me. The explanation given is clear.


(This post was edited by sioux4noff on Jun 2, 2008, 10:19 AM)


esperanza

Jun 2, 2008, 10:54 AM

Post #5 of 32 (12396 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Mental glossary

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Response to someone who wants to pass by you:
Mexico: propio (this one always throws me)
Ecuador: Siga no mas
Spain: Pase Ud.

I still haven't figured out why they say "propio" in Mexico. Anyone know?


Because the person who wants to pass by says, "Con permiso" (excuse me). The person answering says, "Propio" (it's yours).


"Excuse me", of course, is not the literal translation. The LITERAL translation is "With permission". It's the permiso that is propio.

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Georgia


Jun 2, 2008, 2:20 PM

Post #6 of 32 (12383 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Mental glossary

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Got it. Still sounds weird after all these years saying something different. Of course, when I moved to Spain, I was startled by the abrupt "Digame" when I called someone on the phone!!


Judy in Ags


Jun 3, 2008, 7:40 PM

Post #7 of 32 (12352 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Mental glossary

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I've never heard "Propio" used here in Aguascalientes.

"Aguas!" really threw us at first. Portuguese also uses "Cuidado!" (Brazilian Portuguese, at least)


travisdyer

Jun 4, 2008, 6:38 AM

Post #8 of 32 (12342 views)

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Re: [Judy in Ags] Mental glossary

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It is used quite often in Aguascalientes, but I have also heard "pasale" used in its place. "Pasale" basically is the same as "Pase Ud.", which means pass.


esperanza

Jun 4, 2008, 6:49 AM

Post #9 of 32 (12339 views)

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Re: [Judy in Ags] Mental glossary

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Judy, keep your ears open. Usually when I hear of a word that I vow I've never heard spoken aloud, I hear it ten times in the next two days. What you said is absolutely accurate: 'I've never heard 'Propio' used in Aguascalientes'. It isn't that it isn't used--it's that you've never heard it. It's used everywhere in Mexico, as far as I know.

Another word for 'be careful' that's used a lot is "Ojo!" I've heard many a mother say, "Ojo con el perro!" "Ojo con el carro!" "Ojo con..."...you get the idea.

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Georgia


Jun 4, 2008, 7:15 AM

Post #10 of 32 (12337 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Mental glossary

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Ojo!, unlike many Mexican expressions, is actually used all over the Spanish-speaking world. It is often punctuated by placing the index finger on the cheek, just below the eye. Sometimes just the gesture is used.


Judy in Ags


Jun 4, 2008, 9:29 AM

Post #11 of 32 (12327 views)

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Re: [travisdyer] Mental glossary

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Yes, "pasale" I've heard often. And I'm sure you're correct about "propio". I will listen for it. I know it's true that when I learn a new word, then I soon hear it all over the place. It's strange how a word can be hidden in so much spoken speech and suddenly come to light. It's encouraging, though, that I often now catch a word that is strange to me, whereas when I first came here, I was happy to catch the few words that were familiar.


JohnnyBoy

Jun 4, 2008, 10:16 AM

Post #12 of 32 (12322 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Mental glossary

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There are just some things about Spanish (I should qualify that by saying the Spanish I hear in Mexico) that I don't think will ever sit right with me. One of them is saying "Bueno" when you answer the phone. (Do females say "Buena" or does this masculine "Bueno" refer to something else other than the person answering the phone?) I was actually encouraged to read and learn here that this "Bueno" thing is apparently a Mexican phenomenon; that in some other Spanish speaking countries people answer the phone differently.

First of all, what people say when they answer the phone in various cultures (languages) has always fascinated me. I used to get a kick out of Italians saying "Pronto" (which means, "ready"...well, of course you are ready; you picked up the phone and started talking, didn't you?) and Germans who simply answer the phone saying their last name...Schmidt. If someone other than a Schmidt answers the Schmidt's phone, maybe Schmidt is otherwise occupied, you have to say "Hier bei Schmidt" "Here at Schmidt's". Also hilarious to me.

Anyway, I hate answering the phone in Mexico because I do not understand people as well over the phone as I do face-to-face. But sometimes it is necessary, when I am expecting an important call, for example. And I refuse to say "Bueno." I say hello or Hola. The ones calling me know I am a gringo. Invariably, however, not answering with the anticipated "Bueno" sends the caller into a tailspin and he/she is unable to utter a sound. I may say "Hello" again, or say "Quien habla?" or some such thing, but until I say "Bueno" it is a monolog and not by the person who made the call.

I am aware of something similar but more subtle and more complicated in my verbal, face-to-face communications with Mexicans, especially, it seems to me, if they are not particularly well educated. If my syntax, vocabulary, choice of words, pronunciation (accent) is not just exactly what they are anticipating, they apparently do not understand a single thing I say. They see this blondish/gray, blue-eyed oddly dressed gringo standing in front of them with Spanish words coming out of his face, with a slight Italian accent, they get a pained look on their faces and they just shut down. My partner can come along directly and say essentially the same thing, with different word order, maybe a different choice of a couple of words (nothing critical that would change the meaning), in his Sonoran accent, and voila!

I have been listening to foreigners mangle spoken English all my life, from my German grandfather down to the almost daily present every time I make a call to a "Customer Service" number. I work and struggle daily with my partner's English. He does not realize it is just as hard for me, just as taxing of my mental facilities to listen to his English and fix it up instantaneously in my head in order to make some sense of it, as it is for him to speak it. Why can't these people do the same for me? Especially when they are trying to sell me something and it is in their interest to make sure communication occurs? (Rhetorical questions. Nitpickers need not reply.)

I continue to work on my Spanish. It is better than the Spanish I hear spoken by any of the other, very few, gringos I know. But I know it can be better and one way to improve it is to try to say things the way the listener is going to anticipate them. That is going to take some time and a lot of work, but it will be worth it in the end, I am sure.

I can start right now by saying "Bueno" when I answer the phone, no matter how "malo" the whole thing strikes me.


Georgia


Jun 4, 2008, 12:49 PM

Post #13 of 32 (12314 views)

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Re: [JohnBleazard] Mental glossary

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I heartily recommend answering the phone with "Bueno" in Mexico. As you say, anything else leaves the caller mute.

It is akin to calling a business in the US and getting a Valley Girl on the other end who answers the phone with something that sounds like:"cfningstaninman howkielpu?" Translation: "Coffin, Christiana and Inman. How can I help you?" Sometimes it just sounds like "blubbadubbalingdalinga" I have no idea what they are babbling. And it's English. Theoretically a language I grew up with. When we were in the US I never knew if I had reached the business I intended to call or another country where they spoke Basque.


esperanza

Jun 4, 2008, 2:41 PM

Post #14 of 32 (12306 views)

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Re: [JohnBleazard] Mental glossary

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I think...although I'm willing to be wrong...that answering the telephone by saying 'bueno' indicates that the line is good and the call has gone through.

Here's an oldie but goody: who knows what means (and what the origin is) of "Se me cayó el veinte."?

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sioux4noff

Jun 4, 2008, 4:10 PM

Post #15 of 32 (12299 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Mental glossary

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Esperanza, that is what I have heard also about bueno.
I always answer my phone with "hello" since mostly other gringos call me. Maybe it's because of the large number of gringos in my area that it may cause a Spanish-speaking person to pause,then they still manage to get the conversatin started.
And unlike John Bleazard, I am hard on myself and am sure in my mind my Spanish is much worse than other native English speakers I hear. That, despite being told by Spanish and English speaking people that it isn't the case. I've noticed the same thing about some Mexicans as he said, no matter what I say to them in Spanish, they look at me with a puzzled look. While others seem to have no difficulty listening to and talking to me.


(This post was edited by sioux4noff on Jun 4, 2008, 4:11 PM)


jerezano

Jun 5, 2008, 7:37 AM

Post #16 of 32 (12274 views)

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Re: [JohnBleazard] Mental glossary

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Hello John et. al.,

You said:>>>>I am aware of something similar but more subtle and more complicated in my verbal, face-to-face communications with Mexicans, especially, it seems to me, if they are not particularly well educated. If my syntax, vocabulary, choice of words, pronunciation (accent) is not just exactly what they are anticipating, they apparently do not understand a single thing I say. They see this blondish/gray, blue-eyed oddly dressed gringo standing in front of them with Spanish words coming out of his face, with a slight Italian accent, they get a pained look on their faces and they just shut down.<<<<<<

What are you running into? Nothing more than cultural shock. But you aren't the one in cultural shock. It's the Mexican with whom you are trying to communicate.

You are right, when that Mexican sees you as a foreigner he/she, particularly if it is the first experience or one of very few, expects that she will not understand you so she doesn't. As you say, she shuts down. She doesn't hear Spanish words flowing out of your mouth. She hears gibberish.

Try a different approach. Open the conversation by saying Buenos Días or Buenas Tardes. If she doesn't answer continue with ¡Qué día tan bonito! or some such easing-in phrase. Do this before you plunge into the matter at hand. You will be surprised at how easy it then becomes to open a conversation.

Even after 20 years here in México, having daily conversations with different Mexican friends about politics, crime, the US Primaries, books, newspapers, education, teachers, all sorts of subjects, I can still wander into a restaurant new to me to find that the waiter or waitress cannot understand a simple order for huevos rancheros. They have shut down. No, it is not me or my gringo accent. It is "them".

As for ¿bueno? when you answer the telephone. Why not? Don't you say hello? when you answer the telephone in the USA? Just do what the people do. Rhyme or reason notwithstanding.

An item of interest for us all: A well-educated (bien educado) person in Mexico can be illiterate. The term educado here means good manners (modales).

Hasta luelgo. jerezano.


Ed and Fran

Jun 5, 2008, 8:13 AM

Post #17 of 32 (12269 views)

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Re: [jerezano] Mental glossary

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Even after 20 years here in México, having daily conversations with different Mexican friends about politics, crime, the US Primaries, books, newspapers, education, teachers, all sorts of subjects, I can still wander into a restaurant new to me to find that the waiter or waitress cannot understand a simple order for huevos rancheros. They have shut down.

I've had exactly the same experience.


You are right, when that Mexican sees you as a foreigner he/she, particularly if it is the first experience or one of very few, expects that she will not understand you so she doesn't. As you say, she shuts down. She doesn't hear Spanish words flowing out of your mouth. She hears gibberish.

That's precisely Fran's theory for why I occasionally have that experience with waiters.

Regards

Ed


Oscar2

Jun 5, 2008, 4:49 PM

Post #18 of 32 (12247 views)

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Re: [Ed and Fran] Mental glossary

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Ahh, Huevos Rancheros. I’ve told this story before, so I’ll jump in, seize the moment and tell it again.

November of last year while in Chapalita which is adjacent to Guad, I stopped in at the post office to get take care of some business and the 3 woman behind the counter spotted me as an extranjero right off but were courteous and didn't let on.

Speaking in my best pigeon towed Spanish which I believe is pretty good and while I flaunted it with beguiling smiles and carryings on, like just having a good time, I looked at the lady who was all smiles and said, in Spanish, if you can get this done for me quickly, I would deeply appreciate it. I went on to say with a big toothy smile, in fact, if you get this done for me today, to show my appreciation, I’ll take you out for Huevos de Rancheros, and suddenly the 3 women’s heads flipped around, looked straight at me and just about fell on the floor laughing.

I smiled, while trying to collect myself and thinking maybe they thought I was trying to put the make on them but the laughter was so loud and prolonged, I started to feel like I was standing in front of them with only my calzones on. I tried to play into it but the first women sensed it was getting edgy but I still managed a toothy grin through a pending grimace, and finally, the woman looked at me with her flirtatious, kind of knowing look in her eyes and said with a smile, “Oyes, mejor traiga me el Ranchero.” And the laughter started all over again. Needless to say, we came out of this with great fun and to this day, I can call her by phone, identify myself by saying, "I'm the guy who invited you to breakfast" and she just starts giggling with a friendly welcome.

The moral of the story, don’t ever invite a woman out for breakfast and offer her Huevos “de” Rancheros as an entrée. If you get my drift….. Laugh

(This post was edited by Oscar2 on Jun 5, 2008, 4:54 PM)


esperanza

Jun 5, 2008, 7:04 PM

Post #19 of 32 (12232 views)

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Re: [Oscar2] Mental glossary

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Oh Oscar, you pigeon-towed idiot. What a sweet and silly story. It made me laugh. Huevos de rancheros!

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jerezano

Jun 6, 2008, 7:59 AM

Post #20 of 32 (12216 views)

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Re: [Oscar2] Mental glossary

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Hello Oscar2,

Thanks for sharing your story about huevos rancheros with us. You have hit and reported on exactly one of the many reasons I live here in México. I have fallen in love with the spirit of play that the Mexicans show in many different ways. And one of them that is most noticeable is their putting double, triple, and sometimes quadruple meanings into ordinary words and sentences.

I will always remember when my friend Conchita and I were invited to a comida with some very good friends. They served a crema de pescado and we began to talk about crema de ostiones and of other seafoods and when we got to Sea Conches (Conchas) our host asked me the perfectly innocent question (in Spanish) "Have you ever tried Conchuda?" Realizing immediately the double meaning he then turned red and nearly choked on his crema, his wife choked on her crema, and Conchita turned as red as a beet and choked on her crema. I sat there stunned wondering what had happened until the double meaning finally dawned on me and I joined in with the general laughter. Needless to say the question remained unanswered.

Mexicans play all the time. Life here can be a lot of fun.
Hasta luego. jerezano.



(This post was edited by jerezano on Jun 6, 2008, 8:25 AM)


jerezano

Jun 6, 2008, 8:32 AM

Post #21 of 32 (12211 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Mental glossary

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Hola,

Propio, yes is used quite often here in Zacatecas as well. But the most common is ¡Ándale! which of course translates as "Do it." (literally walk away).

jerezano.


quevedo

Jun 8, 2008, 11:06 AM

Post #22 of 32 (12173 views)

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Re: [JohnBleazard] Bueno

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Always, bueno; never, buena. It means el teléfono is bueno, it works. I believe the expression comes from the beginnings of the phone system in Mexico: The operator asked, ¿Bueno?, to receive the answer, Bueno, meaning the communication was established.

'And I refuse to say "Bueno."' Al país que fueres, haz lo que vieres.

Saludos,

Quevedo


raferguson


Jun 8, 2008, 7:08 PM

Post #23 of 32 (12153 views)

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Re: [jerezano] Mental glossary

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I like your theory, that people shut down when you are speaking a different language than they expect. If I address a bilingual person in Spanish, they may not understand me. Once we have settled into a language, then things go smoothly.

I tend to start all conversations with "Buenos dias" (tardes), or "disculpame". I figure that does several things. It signals that I am addressing them. It lets them know that I speak some Spanish. It is very polite.

It also tends to put them at ease, probably for the previous reasons. I remember one holiday watching a bus clerk struggle with a conversation with a foreigner in front of me in line. I could see the smile of relief when she heard me say "buenos tardes". She was very helpful.

Not too often you can accomplish so much with a word or two.

Richard


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julietl


Jun 13, 2008, 8:23 PM

Post #24 of 32 (12099 views)

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Re: [raferguson] Mental glossary

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I have a phone etiquette question. It's a real pet peeve of mine.....

Here is a typical exchange:

*Ring*
Me: Bueno?
Them: Quien Diga?

That drives me ABSOLUTELY CRAZY! They called me! They should know who they are looking to talk to and then ask for that person by name. I think it is incredibly rude to call me and demand to know my name before I even know who they are. arrrgh.

I usually answer, "Quien busca?" and then they get really thrown off because I have not answered their intrusive question.

Am I the only one that this bothers? Should I just take a chill pill about it, or am I right to be put off by this? LOL!
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esperanza

Jun 13, 2008, 9:12 PM

Post #25 of 32 (12090 views)

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Re: [julietm] Mental glossary

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This situation is not unique to Mexico. It used to irritate me in the States, too, and for just the reason you mention.

PS: Try "A quién busca?". It means "Who are you looking for?"

The question in your post, "Quien busca?", translates to, "Who's looking?" On the other hand, maybe that's exactly what you WANT to say! Jajajajajajaja.

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