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gpkgto

Feb 18, 2010, 2:51 PM

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What's with "que tal?"

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I always feel this is a less than sincere greeting unless is comes with a "como estas?"--



tashby


Feb 18, 2010, 3:13 PM

Post #2 of 11 (9608 views)

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Re: [gpkisner] What's with "que tal?"

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Interesting. I don't feel that way at all. In fact if anything, to me it feels more casual and familiar, and because of that more sincere.


Rolly


Feb 18, 2010, 4:39 PM

Post #3 of 11 (9601 views)

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Re: [gpkisner] What's with "que tal?"

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I often use ¿Qué tal? with friends, but it's ¿Cómo está? with more casual acquaintances and service people.

Rolly Pirate


Zarcero

Feb 18, 2010, 5:43 PM

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Re: [Rolly] What's with "que tal?"

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Either should be fine. The important thing is that you stop and chat a minute. And not just ask the greeting and then move on, not expecting to engage.


JohnnyBoy

Feb 19, 2010, 11:18 AM

Post #5 of 11 (9563 views)

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Re: [tashby] What's with "que tal?"

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I have the same feeling.

I am a bit of a linguist, in the sense that I speak and have studied several foreign languages, including Latin. I know what grammar, syntax, declension, conjugation, etc. mean. I know what idioms are.

An idiom, in my definition, is a figure of speech whose meaning is something different, often much more, than a sum of the meanings of the individual words. Like "He kicked the bucket." The words themselves, alone, do not convey the real meaning, that "he died."

I assume "¿que tal?" is some sort of idiom, so what does it mean? "What's up?" "How's it going?" "How are you?" I rarely here it here. Most everybody says some version of "¿que ondas?" Another mystery.

Spanish, like the other foreign languages I know, I believe can be spoken and used to communicate without venturing into the murky waters of idioms. They are dandy for literature and for native or near native speakers who know what they are doing. To me nothing sounds more ridiculous than a foreigner trying to use American/English idioms, invariably incorrectly and/or inappropriately, trying to sound like a native, with the boat they arrived on sailing off in the background.

"¿Que tal?" may be a bit of an exception, because even high school Spanish text books teach it almost from the very beginning. Odd that I almost never hear it used here.


La Isla


Feb 19, 2010, 11:56 AM

Post #6 of 11 (9555 views)

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Re: [JohnnyBoy] What's with "que tal?"

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It's odd that you never hear "Qué tal?" where you are. What part of Mexico do you live in? Maybe it's only used in some parts of the country. I hear "Qué onda?" a lot in Mexico City, but never with an "s" on the second word.

I agree with you that non-native speakers can appear rather ridiculous when using slang and idioms incorrectly, but "¿Qué tal?" is so ubiquitous, that I wouldn't hesitate to use it or recommend that those learning the language use it without any qualms. If you avoid all use of idioms when speaking a foreign language, then you're going to be very limited in what you say and how you express yourself. As an experienced teacher of English as a Foreign Language, I can assure you that if I left idioms out of my classes, I'd be shortchanging my students. Remember that idioms include quite ordinary expressions like "run out of", "turn on", and "catch up with" as well as more exotic examples like the one you mentioned.


jerezano

Feb 21, 2010, 4:11 PM

Post #7 of 11 (9513 views)

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Re: [La Isla] What's with "que tal?"

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Hello all,

Two word verbs and idioms in English Language translating to Spanish or vice versa.

Somebody here has suggested that we can classify two word verbs as idioms. That is not always true. Two or three word verbs usually mean exactly what they say. And should be taught as two or three word verbs. However, there are definite times when some of them are used as idioms. And those idiomatic usages must be mentioned.

What are idioms or modismos (as the Mexicans call them)? They are a conjuncture of words which if translated word for word have a meaning which is sometimes incomprehensible and at other times is far from what the idiom means. I'm a big, fat idiot, for example. The hair of the dog that bit you is another. El pelo del perro que te mordió. What the heck does that mean to a Mexican? Do we need to carry this farther?

Two or three word verbs usually mean exactly what they say:

go in, go out, go up, go down, go with, for example.

back in, back out, back up, back down on the other hand can become a bit hazy. Back up can mean to back up a hill, while back down means downhill. But back up also means to reverse direction from forward to backward which is now a bit hazier to translate. When used as a true idiom it means to support. That is now incomprehensible in a word for word translation. When back out is used as an idiom it means to retreat from a position previously taken or to renege on a promise or contract. Back down when used as an idiom also means to retreat from a position previously taken.

come in, come out are straightforward. But come up with something is idiomatic meaning to propose a solution to something or just an idea. And he/she came out of the closet translated word for word is also incomprehensible.

An analysis of two or three word verbs can be carried out for each of the combinations and when teaching English as a Foreign Language those analyses and idiomatic usages must be spoken to.

Am I wrong in thinking that just saying "two word verbs are idioms" can be a bit misleading?

jerezano (on a dull day).


jerezano

Feb 21, 2010, 4:22 PM

Post #8 of 11 (9511 views)

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Re: [La Isla] What's with "que tal?"

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Hello all,

Street language and common usages should not be confusing once you know how they are used and when. Go with the crowd. If your friends greet you with ¿Qué tal? you know automatically that they are saying Hi, how goes it? or some such greeting. Use it back with them. If they use ¿Qué onda? again you know that it is a greeting so the next time you see Juan use it back. You can never be wrong if you use the same expression you hear all the time from and with the same people.

But in no way use despicable words that you hear all the time with anybody. Something said by a Mexican to another Mexican cannot often be said by a gringo to a Mexican. Even with a very good friend and in jest it usually just doesn't go.

jerezano


Papirex


Feb 21, 2010, 7:31 PM

Post #9 of 11 (9501 views)

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Re: [jerezano] What's with "que tal?"

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Jerezano, I have been using the idiom ¿que tal? For several decades. I first learned it from my Mexican wife. She is fairly fluent in English but she couldn't think of the English equivalent for modismo (idiom) so she said it was slang. Later, I figured out it is what we call an idiom. My Spanish speaking skills are the pits.


I usually only use it when greeting a friend, or close family member here, sometimes I will say it on the phone if we receive a call from someone we know, but haven't seen in a long time, never to a stranger or a person that deserves my respect. It is not a disrespectful term, but that is the way I use it.


You are right that automated word for word translators usually turn out a bunch of gibberish. They can be a big help sometimes, but it usually takes some effort to understand the “translation.”


Rex
"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved" - Victor Hugo


La Isla


Feb 21, 2010, 8:02 PM

Post #10 of 11 (9496 views)

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Re: [jerezano] What's with "que tal?"

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Quote
Am I wrong in thinking that just saying "two word verbs are idioms" can be a bit misleading?


I think you are wrong to think that. A more accurate statement would be something like this: While all idioms are not two-part verbs, all two-part verbs are idioms. A two-part verb is not simply a verb + preposition (like go to) but rather a verb plus a little word that looks like a preposition but is really something called a "particle", for example, turn on. With two-part verbs (now often called "phrasal verbs") what happens is that the addition of the particle totally changes the meaning of the verb, or, in other words, the total is different from the sum of the parts. "Phrasal verb" is a more accurate term than "two-part verb" because some of these verb-based idioms are made up of 3 (sometimes more) words: "look forward to", "come down with" and so on. Is this as clear as mud (a non-phrasal-verb idiom)?


zaragemca

May 25, 2010, 8:40 AM

Post #11 of 11 (8295 views)

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Re: [La Isla] What's with "que tal?"

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Greetings. That is an expression which is used by Colombians as a formal greetinds. 'Que tal como le va'. Gerry Zaragemca
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