06 September 2008

Dialog - Supermarket Parking Lot

In the last dialog episode we took our shopping cart through the supermarket checkout and today we are going to see what happens when someone takes their shopping cart out to their car. There is a phrase used in the dialog that is quite common in Mexico but may confuse you if you aren’t familiar with it. The phrase is “echar aguas”, literally “to throw water” but it is generally used to mean “watch out” or “look out” and the word “aguas” by itself is used to mean “danger” or “be careful”. The first time I encountered it I had only been in Mexico for a short time and I was riding in the passenger seat of a pickup truck and another man who I didn't know well was driving. We came to a busy intersection that we needed to cross and he said to me “¡Échame aguas!” and I thought he meant “Throw water at me”. I was startled, to say the least, but thinking that he might be thirsty I said “No tengo agua pero tengo un poco Coca-Cola”, “I don’t have any water but I have a little Coca-Cola”. He looked at me kind of wild eyed and repeated several times “¡Échame aguas!”, “¡Échame aguas!” and he pointed out the window on my side. Then I wondered if he wanted me to throw something so I threw my Coca-Cola out the window. By this time the guy was really freaking out and I was getting worried. I didn’t realize that he was asking me to give him the “all clear” on my side so that he could cross the road. He wouldn’t talk to me afterwards and I had to wait until I could find someone to explain to me what had happened. Yes, you are right. I felt really stupid, but sometimes that’s how you learn. I am telling you about it so that it won’t happen to you. In any case I learned that when someone shouts “¡Aguas!” they don’t mean “water”…they mean “danger”. So, here is a lady who just went through the supermarket checkout and is going to take her shopping cart out to her car. As she clears the door a young man approaches her and says politely: ¿Le ayudo cargar, señora? Can I help you with your things, ma’am? (Can I help you load, ma’am?) Sí, está bien. ¿Te llevas mi carrito? Mi coche es el Chevy azul allá entre el coche blanco y la camioneta roja. Yes, alright. Can you take my cart? My car is the blue Chevy over there between the white car and the red pickup. No problema señora. No problem lady. Aquí estamos. Déjame abrir la cajuela. Here we are. Let me open the trunk. ¿Dónde me puedo poner las cosas señora? Where do I put the things, ma’am? Por favor, pone los envases con líquido parados en un lado por se vaya caer y regar si no están bien tapados. Please put the containers with liquids standing to one side so they won’t fall over and spill out if they aren’t capped very well. ¿Dónde pongo los huevos? Where do I put the eggs? Ponlos en el asiento adelante porfa para no se vayan a romper. Déjame abrir la puerta. Put them in the front seat please so they won’t break. Let me open the door. ¿Y la bolsa de alimentos para los perros señora? And the bag with dog food, ma’am? Esa ponla en el asiento trasero. Put it in the back seat. Ya terminé señora. Todo está acomodado. (Sound of a trunk closing) Súbase por favor señora. Yo le echo aguas. I’m done, ma’am. Everything is put away. (Sound of a trunk closing) Get in, ma’am. I will watch out for you. (I will guide you.) [Note: The phrase “echar aguas” has nothing to do with water. It means to “watch out”] Muy bien muchacho. (Sound of a car door closing and a car starting) Very good young man. (Sound of a car door closing and a car starting) Sale, sale, sale, viene, viene...¡ALTO! Espere a que pase el carro negro. Ahora quebrándose, quebrándose, quebrándose todo. Ahí estuvo. (Thumping noise as the young man thumps on the trunk lid as a signal to stop). Okay, okay, okay, come on, come on…STOP! Wait until the black car passes. Now turn the wheel, turn the wheel, turn the wheel all the way. That’s it. (Thumping noise as the young man thumps on the trunk lid as a signal to stop). Gracias joven, aquí está para un refresco. Thank you young man, here is something to buy a soda. Gracias a usted, señora. Que le vaya bien. (Sound of a car departing) Thank you lady. May you go well. (Sound of a car departing) Note: Here are some comments: Súbase por favor - The verb “subir” means “to raise up” or “to lift up” but when used in the reflexive form “subirse” it means “to get in” as in “to get in a car” or “to get on” as in “to get on a train”. In a similar fashion the verb “bajar” menas “to lower” or “to take down” but when used in the reflexive form “bajarse” in means to “to get out” as in “to get out of the car” or “to get down off the train”. Sale, sale, sale, viene, viene...¡ALTO! The word “sale” is the third person present tense of the verb “salir” which generally means “to leave” However, I consider the word “sale” to be an idiomatic expression all by itself because like “àndale” and “órale” it can mean various things depending upon the context in which it is used. This verb “salir” has many meanings and it is a verb that you should study carefully. The word “alto” means “stop” (halt) in this dialog but “alto” can also mean “high” as in altitude and it can also mean “loud” as in a loud voice. Ahora quebrándose, quebrándose, quebrándose todo. - The verb “quebrar” means “to break” or “to go bankrupt”. In the sense that it is used here it means the same as we would say in English, “Now start cutting the wheel over” when someone is backing up to let them know that they have clearance to start their turn. In the dialog the phrase “quebrándose todo” is used where we would say “Now cut the wheel hard”.. I don't even know if it is “correct” Spanish but I do know that you will often hear it when someone is guiding another out of a parking space.


Rachel Laudan said...

Hi Bob, You manage to slip in quite a bit of information about life in Mexico too!

When I first started Spanish, the graduate student who was then my teacher told me that "aguas" for watch out came from the habit of warning people to watch out for water coming from overhead: balcony plants, spouts from the roof, even the water you'd been mopping the roof with. Any idea if that is true?

Anonymous said...

I don't know for sure but Armando Fuente Aguirre (Catón) who writes a well known syndicated newspaper editorial column once wrote that "aguas" came from a similar sounding Nahuatl word meaning "danger" and it got carried over into Mexican Spanish. I can't confirm that but I think perhaps it is true because Catón is such an accomplished and knowledgeable writer. I will check into that and see what I can come up with.

GlorV1 said...

That is very interesting Bob. I never knew about "agua" had other meaning that agua para beber, or agua's frescas. Thanks to you, I will be sure to tener aguas when I back up my car.:) How great to know it means something else. You know, I'm thirsty, voy a tomar agua horita. Hasta luego y que te vaya bien. Muchas gracias. (by the way, it was also very interesting what Rachel said.)

Anonymous said...

Better use "echar aguas" and not "tener aguas :)

Stay tuned, Gloria. There is some more interesting stuff coming soon. Rachel may be right, I don't know for sure. I am going to do some checking. Thanks for your comments :)

YayaOrchid said...

Bob, you had me cracking up, with tears running down my face, when I read about the incident in the truck, and the coca cola you threw out the window, LOL!

And Gloria's comment didn't help me to stop laughing! LOL!

Your blog is certainly getting....interesting!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for telling me what you like and don't forget to tell me what you don't like. I really appreciate your comments...Gloria's too!

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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.