05 September 2008

Dialog - Supermarket Checkout

Okay. In the last dialog episode we went to the supermarket deli counter and bought some lunch meat. Now we are finished with our selections and we need to take our shopping cart to the checkout counter which they usually refer to here as simply "la caja" or "the box" which is short for "cash box". This is where the "cajera" (cah-HAIR-ah) or " female cashier" will ring up our purchases. A male cashier would be a "cajero" (cah-HAIR-oh). It literally means "box person" or "cash box person". The point that I am getting at is that there is sometimes quite a difference between the actual meaning of a word or phrase and the literal translation that you might get from a dictionary. What I try to do in these dialogs is compare what people generally say in Mexican Spanish with what we say in English. Many times the phrases can't be matched word for word. That is why it is good to practice the dialogs and even memorize them…YES, I said memorize them! That way you will have the words and phrases already in your head. You can always substitute a word or phrase when needed to match actual current situation. If you try to translate word for word in your head as you are listening or speaking you will soon get very confused. Of course there might be variations in the dialog from one part of Mexico to the other but I think that you will find the following dialog fairly standard throughout the country.

So, as we wheel our "carrito" (shopping cart) into the checkout line and approach the checkout counter the girl says:

Buenas tardes, Señor. ¿Encontró todo lo que buscaba?
Good afternoon, Sir. Did you find everything that you were looking for?

Sí, gracias.
Yes, thank you.

¿Puedo empezar a marcar?
Can I begin the checkout?

Sí, por favor.
Yes, please.

Son cuatrocientos treinta y ocho cincuenta. ¿Su forma de pagar va a ser en efectivo o con tarjeta o vales de dispensa?
That will be four hundred thirty-eight fifty ($438.50 in pesos). Will you be paying in cash or with a credit card or with food stamps?

Voy a usar mi tarjeta de crédito Visa. (Voy a usar mi tarjeta Visa.)
I am going to use my Visa credit card.

¿Me permite su tarjeta? (¿Me presta su tarjeta?)
Can I have your card?

Aquí tiene.
Here you are.

Gracias. ¿Desea donar los centavos?
Thank you. Do you want to donate the cents? (centavos)

Sí, ¡Cómo no!
Sure, why not!

¿Me regala su firma? (Su firma aquí, por favor.)
Can I have your signature? (Please sign here.)

Por supuesto, Señorita.
Of course, Miss.

Bueno, aquí está su tarjeta y su ticket. Gracias por su visita. ¡Qué le vaya bien!
Okay, here is your card and your register receipt. May you go well.

Note: Here are some follow up comments:

1.) ¿Puedo empezar a marcar? This literally means "Can I begin to mark?". In this case the infinitive form of the verb "marcar" is used to mean "to register" or "to count".

2.) ¿Me permite su tarjeta? (¿Me presta su tarjeta?) The verb "permitir", "to allow" and "prestar", "to lend" are used for politeness instead of something more direct like "Dame su tarjeta" or "Déjame tener su tarjeta" which would sound very aggressive and impolite. Similarly we use "regalar" in "¿Me regala su firma?" to mean "Can you give me the gift of your signature?" instead of "¡Firma aquí!" or "Sign here!".

3.) ¿Desea donar los centavos? - Do you wish to donate the centavos? Since a Mexican centavo is only worth about a tenth of a U.S. penny people usually let the cashier round off the total to the peso and they donate the centavos to the Red Cross or to the "Bomberos" (Firemen) or whatever particular cause the supermarket happens to be sponsoring at the moment. You don't have to say "yes" but it will raise some eyebrows if you don't.

4.) Bueno, aquí está su tarjeta y su ticket. The word for "receipt" is actually "recibo" but that is used for a more formal or detailed receipt. A register receipt from a cash register is usually called a "ticket".

5.) ¡Qué le vaya bien! I am always a bit puzzled as to how to best express this in English. It literally means "May you go well" or "May you journey well". When I lived in Nuevo León people would say "¡Qué le vaya bien!…¡Ándale". The word ándale (or ándele) generally means "come on" or "hurry up" but it also can mean "Now you've got it!". When I buy something in a store and people said "say "¡Qué le vaya bien!…¡Ándale!" I always translate it for myself as "Y'all come back!" or "Come back soon!". Without the ándale appendage I consider it to mean "Y'all take it easy!".


YayaOrchid said...

The dialogue is so very polite. Isn't it something the way in Mexico people speak so politely? I am so used to speaking casually here though. When I converse or speak with someone from Mexico I find myself using so many 'extra' words. Here in the US we take shortcuts to express ourselves. So very practical, don't you think?

GlorV1 said...

Here it's like this:

Did you find everything okay?

(me) Yes, just fine.

Do you need stamps?

(me) No, not right now, thank you.

Plastic or paper?

(me) I have my own bags and do I get a discount on them.?

Oh yes, I didn't see your bags, how many do you have?

(me) I believe 5, yes 5.

Okay, thats a nickel a bag.

(me) Oh, thats great.

Debit or credit?

(me) debit, sliding my card,pushing the buttons

Thank you, you saved 8.40 cents

(me) oh? Thats nice.

Nedd help carrying out?

(me) No thank you. I got it.

Have a good day.

(me) You too, have a great day.

So thats pretty much it, there is no personal interaction, just business as usual. So it is nice to hear such politeness. Lucky you as I alway say.

Anonymous said...

Yes Yaya, I find that the people here use a form of speech that is more polite than used in the U.S. but I think that perhaps that is changing just like everything else.

Yes it seems more polite but sometimes I think it may be more of a mask than sincerity. Yesterday I went to Walmart and they employ a lot of young people and (perhaps because I am an old guy) I thought to myself that Mexico is changing rapidly and pretty soon things will be more or less the same all over. Still, it is nice when people treat each other with civility. Thank you very much for your dialog. This is the kind of feedback that I like to receive. This way I have something to check myself against and it gives me ideas for improving my dialogs.

GlorV1 said...

Its my pleasure coming to your blog and reading all your posts, as it is a learned experience. Keep it up Mr. Bob, and no you are not an old guy, you are full of life with much to share.

**Magg ** said...

I'm now one of your readers!

Bob Mrotek said...

Welcome aboard, Margarita!

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog, and now I have it bookmarked - thank you so much for these dialogs! I'm planning my move to Mexico and I've been stressing over my weak Spanish. For sure I'll be memorizing these!


Bob Mrotek said...

Hi Jo,
Don't worry. You have the right attitude. I am sure that you will have no problem learning Spanish and in about a year you will be flying high :)

Unknown said...

Great dialog. I had no idea marcar was used in that way. I've only heard it used in the context of dialing the phone or as another to say call me.

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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.