Teaching/Learning Languages

Yesterday, Ana was "doing" an English class on-line. I heard a few things that didn't impress me including "I will be here at one unless the train is late" but ignored them. Finally, she plays something that is, more or less, "We are going to eat lunch. Would you like to join us?" The operative problem word being "join".

She asks me what join means. I hesitate, trying to think of how I would say this in Spanish and, probably more important, how I would say this in "clear English". The answer was the same. The second sentence would be replaced with "Would you like to come with us" or "eat with us".

Having written classes, I recognize these problems. The classes I have done are pretty much like any other foreign language class—computer classes. In this case, I explained to her that "to join" is "to connect" and a different concept was being expressed. ...

Well, today's update is she sees the cover of the latest Linux Journal. In big letters it says "The votes are in!". She asks me what it means. I think. I say "Los votos está". She tries to correct to "Los votos son" waiting for the next word. I explain that adding in (en) to the end of the sentence won't work in Spanish and, well, what it really is saying is "Los votos eatá aquí or "Tenemos los votos" (which actually is probably more confusing as it implies something like "enough people will vote for us".

The biggest thing I have learned (but she hasn't yet) is that if you try to work at the word level, you are going to get confused regularly.

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How about..?

Ya estan los votos!

I totally agree that translating word by word will create great confusion; it rarely works out.

I like it

That is, at least in Nicaraguan Spanish, that sounds like the right message.

Thought I would toss in

My son married a mexican and lives with the family in Queretaro..he is a scots-canadian, I have been there with my Spanglish, to me he is absolutely Magically brilliant in Spanish..Mexican..whilst I was there, every so often I noticed his new found Father-in-law-Mama, cousins, uncle and Aunts...there is a million of them...would correct him on a word..or two, not just the pronounciation but meaning/context of A word he used in conversation. BeingInvolved in the culture, day to day,and at twenty three years old, daft anyway,what a great opportunity. He is not really working at the "Word Level" per se..more the life level.

You should take Ana to visit your Country for a trip that I'm sure she will greatly appreciate. Come visit me in Toronto. We have AT LEAST five thousand Nicas's here learning confusion.

Inglese

In a personal (non literal) context - as in this case - "join" means "Acompañar" (connecting by being conpany) as in..."Vamos a comer, nos acompaña?. This is an implied, very polite invitation as in (more literally) "We are going to eat lunch, you're invited".

As for "The votes are in!" - implies that the period for votes submission has ended and possibly voting results are also in ...contextually, "Termino la votacion", if desired followed by, "empieza (o termina) el conteo", meaning voting is over, the count (tally) has begun (or ended), hence preserving the tease of the original headline.

At the risk of taking up too much posting(s)

if I live in Nicaragua, will you teach me Spanish? How much would you charge? Just name your price. Canadian Dollars of course.

Sorry. I live in the states

Sorry. I live in the states but from time to time I'll be happy to take a crack at any translation questions should you wish to post on this site. By birth, I'm neither nicaraguan, nor american but as a hobby, I dabble in languages and I have strong connections to nicaraguan and american cultures (including slang and the multiplicity of regional terms in the states, i.e. hoagie vs. sub, soda vs. pop, etc). By the way, I'm not an english major - au contraire - science is the way [Batchelors in Electrical Engineering (BSEE), Masters in Industrial Engineering (MSIE)] but I can switch from geek to scribe, as required, in no time. I mix well with geeks and uppity useless intellectuals.

Speaking of invitations...in Nicaraguan culture a poet (more often than not, an alcoholic) is considered an honored intellectual and it is prestigious for a host to host a poet to a session of drinks and poetry. A poet can therefore have access to free munchies and free drinks by virtue of being considered a poet as long as the poet reputation can be maintained...

For kicks, here is a translation of a Ruben Dario (noted nicaraguan poet) poem:

Lo Fatal [The Fatal]...English right below each spanish line

Dichoso el árbol, que es apenas sensitivo,

Lucky the tree which is hardly sensitive

y más la piedra dura porque ésa ya no siente,

and even more so the hard stone because it doesn't feel anything

pues no hay dolor más grande que el dolor de ser vivo

Because there isn't greater pain than being alive

ni mayor pesadumbre que la vida consciente.

nor greater sorrow than concious life

Ser, y no saber nada, y ser sin rumbo cierto,

To be, and not know anything, and to be without true bearing

y el temor de haber sido y un futuro terror...

and the fear of having being and an uncertain

future

¡Y el espanto seguro de estar mañana muerto,

and the sure horror of being dead tomorrow

y sufrir por la vida y por la sombra y por

and to suffer for life and for the shadow and for

lo que no conocemos y apenas sospechamos,

that which we don't know and barely suspect

y la carne que tienta con sus frescos racimos,

and the flesh that tempts us with its luring

tentacles

y la tumba que aguarda con sus fúnebres ramos

and the tomb that awaits with its floral arrangements

y no saber adónde vamos,

and not knowing where we are going

ni de dónde venimos!...

nor were we came from...

All continous english.

Lucky the tree which is hardly sensitive

and even more so the hard stone because it doesn't feel anything

Because there isn't greater pain than being alive

nor greater sorrow than concious life

To be, and not know anything, and to be without true bearing

and the fear of having being and an uncertain future

and the sure horror of being dead tomorrow

and to suffer for life and for the shadow and for

that which we don't know and barely suspect

and the flesh that tempts us with its luring tentacles

and the tomb that awaits with its its floral arrangements

and not knowing where we are going

nor were we came from...

Master it and claim free drinks and free munchies from friends and relatives...

Wow...

he does sound better when I know all the words, thanks.

Hmmm a BSEE, you ever look though Hugh Piggott's work ?

I have been itching to try his alternator design.

-Doug

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate

Correct

You are absolutely right on acompañar. I do, however, think that join was less that the right choice on the English side.

As for the voting issue, it is still a perfect example where a word-for-word translation just doesn't hack it. We get so used to handy little expressions after all too many years in one language.