February 22, 2006


from Mexican Spanish to English


A vulgar term that everyone uses. An intensifier, usually negative, as in, the phrase popular with drivers, "pinche hijo de La Chingada," "lousy son of the archetypal whore." But it's occasionally used in a positive sense, as in "que pinche culota!" "what a piece of ass!"

A Mexican writer who had just come back from Spain told me "I don't understand how they survive without 'pinche'.

Mark Weiss

Posted by dwaber at 05:34 PM


from Spanish to English

Spanish possessive pronoun "su"
His, hers, its, their. And in the polite form, "your."

Mark Weiss

Posted by dwaber at 05:32 PM

February 21, 2006


from Spanish to English

In most varieties of Spanish, there are two singular forms of the second person pronoun: Usted and tú. The former is a formal pronoun, used for social superiors and new acquaintances. The latter is familiar. 'Tutear' is a verb meaning 'to address someone as "tú"'. However, the meaning isn't purely linguistic: It indicates familiarity. Thus, 'Puedes tutearme' ('You can address me as "tú"') is an invitation to familiarity. The connotation is similar to the English phrase 'to be on a first name basis with', but I can't think, off-hand, of an English term or phrase that describes personal relationships through linguistic usage in the same way.

[This also reminds me of the term 'voseo', which means 'the use of the second person singular 'vos' in place of 'tú'. 'Vos' is favoured in a few Latin American countries, including Costa Rica (the source of my familiarity with the term). This strikes me as probably different from what you're looking for.]

Bob Offer-Westort
San Francisco, California, USA

Mark Weiss adds:

re: tutear, the same meanings, social and linguistic, apply to the French "tutoyer" and its opposite, "vousvoyer." One way French people define what makes the very rich not like you and me is that they vousvoient their children and parents.

Posted by dwaber at 10:45 PM


From Spanish to English

Immediately coming to my mind is the Spanish (Mexican, really) word "ningunear".

In English, this verb means something like

"to render someone into a no one"

The noun form "ninguneo" means something like "a no-bodying of someone"

Approximate terms in English like "to snub" or "to ignore" are nowhere near as strong in their implications.

Dr. John M. Bennett
Rare Books & MSS Library
The Ohio State University
"No words are translatable. All words are transductible."

Posted by dwaber at 01:42 PM