Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Espero que tienes un Cinco de Mayo muy bueno

...My Spanish might be a little rusty, though. Anyway, here's some music to help you celebrate:

Puedes agradecerme más adelante.


  1. Sir, you do not know me well enough to use "tu."

    On a more serious note, your verb forms are second person singular familiar. Since I know you have more than one reader, you should be using a plural form, and should probably be using the formal pronoun precisely because you don't know your readers that well, though I don't think Mexican Spanish uses the second person plural familiar at all.

    Of course, this is Spanish, which means the second person formal takes the third person form of the verb, so you can't get away with dropping the subject. That makes "tienes" into "ustedes (abbreviated 'uds') tienen" and "puedes" into "uds. pueden."

  2. I've been told that the second-person plural is actually dying out. If that's true, it's a pity -- I think English could benefit from having a specific structure for that particular function. ("Y'all" and "Yous Guys" fill the gap, but it just isn't the same.)

    In my late teens, I was actually passably fluent in Spanish -- in the sense that I could hold a conversation and be understood, though I probably sounded like an idiot. But that was:
    A) academic, Castillian Spanish, which isn't much use with Spanish-speakers here in Texas;
    B) twenty years of complete disuse ago; and
    C) weirdly colored by the fact that it's possible to offend people by using the formal second-person if they don't think it's appropriate.

    So... Yeah. I'm not going to attempt to defend my horrific abuses of the Spanish language, but I am somewhat aware of them.

    1. TL;DR -- I know, or knew, the grammatical structures, but I've never been entirely clear on when it's socially appropriate to employ them.

    2. Insult someone with inappropriate use of the formal second person? Got a source for that?

      I'm used to the idea that inappropriate of the familiar second person is insulting. That flows from the fact that the familiar form is used with friends, family, and social inferiors. So, if you use it with someone who isn't a relative, and you don't know that well, then you must think...

    3. Spanish is weird in that it has four variants of the second person, familiar singular, "tu"; formal singular, "usted";familiar plural, "vosotros (used in Castillian Spain) or "vos" (used in Argentina, and more archaic than "vosotros"); and formal plural, "ustedes." The form that's dying, or pretty much dead is the familiar plural (notice how tightly I restricted the geographical regions the two variants are used over). AFAIK, the formal plural is still going strong.

      Of course, there's the added weirdness I mentioned in my original comment that the formal second person takes the third person form of whatever verb it's used with. That's a historical artifact resulting from the formal second person being derived from the phrase "your mercy" or "your mercies" which would be "vuestra merced" or "vuestras mercedes" in Spanish. That's also why you'll see "usted" and "ustedes" abbreviated as "vd" and "vds" in older works.

      BTW, given the existence of "vos" in Argentine Spanish, I really, really want to translate "vosotros" as "y'all."

  3. No source; strictly anecdotal. And given the people involved, it's entirely possible that there's more to the story than their take on it. (I was told that the Spanish speaker -- Mexican Spanish -- was insulted by the use of the formal second-person. I'd bet there's more nuance there, at the very least -- maybe the guy thought they were making fun of him or something. It's also very possible that it had nothing to do with the choice of pronouns, and the speaker actually said something incredibly insulting without realizing it.)

    But, yeah. My Spanish used to be pretty decent, but I have almost no experience using it outside of a classroom setting... and at this point, it isn't so much "rusty" as "corroded completely away". ::sigh:: I kind of miss it; I actually used by something of a language geek. ("That moment when you have to rework an entire page of your Spanish test to change the verb endings from Latin back to Spanish.")


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