12 September 2008

Dialog - The Mosquito

The planet Earth is generally a good place for human beings and so I always wonder why on earth God created the mosquito. I guess the answer to that is “God only knows” and we must accept the mosquito as part of God's eternal plan. Mexico certainly has its share of God given mosquitoes and they are just as pesky here as they are anywhere else. They are also called a “mosquito” in Spanish just like in English but most people refer to a mosquito here as a “zancudo” (zahn-KOO-doh). You will also sometimes hear a mosquito referred to as a “moscu” (MOHS-koo) which is short for mosquito. However, you musn't get a “moscu” confused with a “mosca” (MOHS-kah) which is what they call a common housefly and the big bluebottle type fly is called a “moscón” (mohs-KOHN. I sure hope you are getting all this so I won't have to repeat it.

Not long after I first came to Mexico I was invited to a large outdoor Catholic mass on a special occasion. It was a very cloudy day and the man who came to pick me up told me “Mejor trae una paraguas por si las moscas” which I literally translated as “Better bring an umbrella in case of flies”. I couldn't understand how an umbrella would help against flies butI didn't want to appear stupid or “show myself” as the Mexican people say so I grabbed an umbrella and off we went. After the mass I commented to my friend that there were no flies so we didn't need the umbrella after all. He looked at me kind of strange for a few seconds and then he started laughing and he laughed so hard that I thought he was going to choke. When I asked him what was so funny he told me that the umbrella was for rain and not “flies” and then he explained to me that the phrase “por si las moscas” means “just in case” and has nothing to do with “flies”.

So here we are in a bedroom with a couple who just laid down to sleep when they hear the “zumbito” (hum) of a zancudo.

ZZZzzzzzzzZZZZZZZzzzzttt ¡PLAF! (sound of a mosquito and a slap)
¡Hijole! ¿Qué pasó?
Wow! What happened?

Fue un zancudo en la recamara y estuvo haciéndome loca. ZZzzzzZZZzztt ¡PLAF! Fue un otro. ¡Prende la luz por favor!
There was a mosquito in the bedroom and it was driving me crazy. ZzzzzzZZZzztt SPLAT! That was another one. Please turn on the light!

A ver. Oh, creo que yo se que está pasando. ¡Mira! Hay un desgarrón en el mosquitero de la ventana. Déjame cubrirlo con un pedazo de cinta y mañana voy a repararlo mejor.
Let's see. Oh, I believe I know what is happening. There is a hole in the window screen. Let me cover it with a piece of tape and tomorrow I will repair it better.

Sí, la cinta puede impedir otro zancudos de entrar pero ¿qué vamos hacer con ellos que ya están adentro?
Yes, the tape will prevent other mosquitoes from entering but what are we going to do with the mosquitoes that are already inside?

No problema mi alma, voy a matarlos con flit.
No problem my love, I will kill them with flit.

¡No viejo! No me gusta Flit. Huele horrible. Mejor matarlos con esta matamosca.
No dear! I don't like flit. It smells horrible. It is better to kill them with this flyswatter.

Okay, hay uno en la pared. ¡PLAF!
Okay, there's one on the wall. SPLAT!

Hay otro en el tocador. ¡PLAF!
There is one on the dresser. SPLAT!

También en el buró. ¡PLAF!
Also on the night stand. SPLAT!

Hay otro en el borde del espejo pero cuídate. No rompes el espejo, eh. ¡PLAF!
There is another on the mirror frame but be careful. Don't break the mirror, eh. SPLAT!

Oh, oh, hay otra ahí en la puerta del ropero. ¡PLAF!
Oh-oh, there is one over there on the closet door. SPLAT!

¡Ya! Es todo. Apaga la luz y regresamos a la cama.
There! That's all of them! Turn of the light and let's go back to bed.

Buenas noches mi amor.
Good night my love.

Buenas noches cariño.
Good night sweetheart.


¡OYE! ¡Párate hombre! No soy un zancudo.
HEY! Stop that mister! I'm not a mosquito.

Perdón, mi amor. (Ji ji, ja ja ja)
Sorry my love. (Hee hee, ha ha ha)

Note: I have a few more comments:

voy a matarlos con flit. - The word “flit”is the generic word for bug killer. It is pronounced “fleet”. FLIT is actually a brand name for an insecticide that was introduced by Standard Oil in 1928.

No problema mi alma.
Buenas noches mi amor.
¡No viejo!
Buenas noches cariño. In Mexican Spanish there are many, many pet names that married couples use for each other. Even a young woman will call her husband “viejo” (old man) and it is meant to be a term of endearment and not at all derogatory. A man may call his wife “mi alma” (my soul), “mi corazón” (my heart), “mis ojos” (my eyes), “mi vida” (my life), etcetera. It doesn't always translate well into English because we aren't used to calling each other using the names of so many body parts so I translated these into the standard “sweetheart” "my love" and “dear”.

Hay otro en el tocador. - A “tocador” in Mexico is generally a dresser with a mirror. A dresser without a mirror would be a “cómoda”. A “buró” is some kind of bedside table. A footstool is called a “taburete”. In some other Spanish speaking countries or even different regions of Mexico these names may be different.


GlorV1 said...

Bob, that is some big mosquito you have there. We tend to get some pretty big one out this way, but not as big and spooky looking like that picture you have there. ""splat"" My husband splats them with his hands, and I say a goodbye to the mosquito but grateful he won't bite me.
I'll see you later and thank you.

Gin said...

Great dialogue, thanks for the Spanish lesson.

Funny I had just looked up buzz in the dictionary this morning - it gave me zumbito. I have a new gatito who I named Chico but think the name Buzz would more fitting. However I don't think the translation of hum would exactly fit. As you say sometimes the word get lost in the translation.

'Eddie Willers' said...

Aaaah! A light just went on!

We sell an insecticide sprayer/atomiser locally known as a 'Bomba de flit' but NO ONE has ever been able to tell me exactly what the 'flit' referred to!

I am most humbly enlightened.

Anonymous said...

For your further edification, Flit used "Quick, Henry, the Flit!" as its slogan for nearly 20 years. And guess who drew the ad? None other than Dr. Seuss!


Anonymous said...

Hey hey!!! How about that! I knew about Henry and the Flit but I didn't know about the Dr. Seuss connection. Thanks to people like you, Cristina, I learn something new every day :)

Unknown said...

Fue un zancudo en la recamara y estuvo haciéndome loca. the right way to say this in spanish is: me estaba volviendo loca ( it was driving me crazy).

Bob Mrotek said...

Actually both forms of Spanish would be correct. My English translation probably would have been better if I had said "drove" instead of "was driving". Okay, so lighten up will ya :)

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.