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Nov 10, 2006, 11:15 AM

Post #1 of 7 (3391 views)


tal vez

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Dear native spanish speakers... I have a question for you:

If I say 'tal vez' do you take that to mean 'maybe yes, maybe no' or do you just take it to be a polite way of saying 'no'?



Nov 10, 2006, 1:13 PM

Post #2 of 7 (3383 views)


Re: [DoDi2] tal vez

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Nov 10, 2006, 2:29 PM

Post #3 of 7 (3375 views)


Re: [DoDi2] tal vez

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I think it means: We’ll see.


Nov 10, 2006, 2:45 PM

Post #4 of 7 (3373 views)


Re: [Oscar2] tal vez

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Oscar.. that's what I always thought too. But I've just been corrected by a Mexican friend that although it literally translates to 'maybe' or 'we'll see'... culturally it pretty much always means a polite, delicately delivered 'no'.

I think I'm finding out just how 'no' adverse a society Mexico is. It almost approaches the adversion to saying 'no' that I found in India. I.e. all this time that I've been saying maybe I'll come to your party, I've really been saying no.. and then showing up! que pena! On the other hand, when I have said 'no I can't make it because of xyz..' in a nice way that I thought was polite in fact I may have been coming off as very a typically indelicate gringa by blurting out the boorish sounding no.

Of course this new information was transmitted to me in a very gentle and indirect manner so as not to bruise feelings.

Sometimes I feel like a big norteamericana clodhopper!



Nov 11, 2006, 12:38 PM

Post #5 of 7 (3340 views)


Re: [DoDi2] tal vez

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Hello DoDi1,

Here in Zacatecas tal vez is a polite NO in answer to any invitation. Very seldom it can also means perhaps.

Somewhere in the literature is a small booklet on the difficulty of Mexicans to say NO. I read it so many years ago I cannot remember its name or author. It would be a good read for you if you can find it somewhere.

I remember years ago being sent clear across town in San Miguel de Allende only to find a policeman who sent me to a self service laundry only a block from where I started. This difficulty of a Mexican to say No, I don t know or No I can t help you will show up everywhere if you do much traveling in Mexico.

As a woman, you might be interested in reading the Spanish Classic "El sí de las niñas" which is a play about the necessity of a young daughter to agree to an arranged marriage.

Adiós. jerezano


Nov 12, 2006, 8:29 AM

Post #6 of 7 (3312 views)


Re: [DoDi2] tal vez

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The Mx reluctance to say NO or I DON’T KNOW, as Jerezano points out, is so true. It got to the point where I also felt a sense of reluctance just asking directions when needed. What I realize now is my lack of the Mx language skills at the times I asked for directional assistance was also a barrier of confusion.

For example, simple things like when a Mx would good naturedly wave his arms around directing me to my destination he’d use the term “semáforo” which I was not familiar with, so it sort of knocked me off kilter, thus throwing an anvil into my attention and spiriting even more confusion.

Aside from a good comprehensive stockpile of functional Mx words needed to understand the locals, the point made about Mx reluctance to just say, “I don’t know,” is still very much alive. I guess it’s just an inherent part of the culture, which gives Mexico its unique, interesting, Latin flavor.

With those who have lived years down south, one can easily realize that this idiosyncrasy is nothing more than commonplace and an inherent part of living with the natives. “As in Rome!” Laugh

(This post was edited by Oscar2 on Nov 12, 2006, 8:30 AM)


Nov 13, 2006, 8:03 AM

Post #7 of 7 (3283 views)


Re: [DoDi2] Tal vez

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Look at my eyes. Look at my face. What do you see?

You have to read the unspoken language.


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