28 June 2009

Dialog - Going and Coming

There is a famous movie in Mexico starring Pedro Infante and Luis Aguilar called "A.T.M.- A Toda Máquina" ("At full speed" or "Running flat out"). It came out in 1951 and it is one of the most beloved Mexican movies of all time along with its sequel "Que Te Ha Dado Es Mujer?" with Pedro Infante, Luis Aguilar, and Rosita Arenas. There is a line from "A Toda Máquina" that has entered the language as pop culture that you probably won't find in any textbook and so that's why it helps to watch old movies. You can rent them or you can buy them from Amazon. In this movie the two heroes live in a "vecindario" which is a big old house with a courtyard that is divided into smaller living quarters. It is like a little neighborhood within a neighborhood. This vecindario has a "portera" or doorkeeper (in this case a woman) who controls the comings and goings. The husband of the portera is a "milusos" or "jack-of-all-trades" and he has about seven jobs. He is always coming and going to change his clothes (or uniform) in between jobs. There is a famous exchange between the man and his wife that is repeated every time that he arrives and leaves and it goes like this:

Ya me voy vieja.
I'm going now old woman.
Adios viejo
Goodbye old man.
Ya vine vieja
I've returned old woman.
Qué bueno viejo.
That's good old man.

This exchange of phrases became a cultural icon and has been used ever since in one form or another especially by older generations.

Now let's join our favorite couple and see what today's "voy y vengo" is all about:

Voy y vengo, viejo.
I'm going and coming old man.

¿Adonde vas mi amor?
Where are you going my love?

Voy de pisa y corre a la tienda.
I'm just going to pop over to the store.

¿Para qué?
What for?

Voy a comprar un litro leche nada más. Necesito hacer gelatina para la fiesta mañana. No me tardo. Ahorita vengo.
I'm just going to buy a liter milk. I need to make jello for the party tomorrow. I won't be long. I'll be right back.

Bueno. Entonces cuídate mucho mi amor.
Okay, then be very careful my love.

OK Papi. No te preocupes. Bai-bai.
Okay sweetie, don't worry. Bye-bye.

(Una hora después)
(One hour later)

¡Ya vine viejo! ¡Ya me voy viejo!
I've returned old man! Now I'm going old man!

Oye, espérame tantito. ¿Que pasó? Me dijiste que tu no te ibas a tardar y estuviste más de una hora afuera de la casa. ¿Donde fuiste?
Hey, wait a minute. What happened? You told me that you weren't going to be long and you've been away from the house more than an hour. Where did you go?

Fui a la tienda como te dije pero ¿qué creas? Me encontré con mi amiga Mirna y ella habla por los codos de la política y cuando ella empieza a hablar, no hay quien la pare!
I went to the store like I told you but guess what. I ran into my friend Mirna and she talked and talked about the political situation and when she starts to talk no one can stop her.

¡Ay qué Mirna! ¿Ahora a donde vas?
Oh that Mirna! Now where are you going?

Voy un ratito a la casa de mis padres para recoger un molde para la gelatina. No me tardo.
I'm going for a little bit to my parent's house to pick up a mold for the jello. I won't be long.

Haz me un favor mi amor. No me importa si tardes o no pero quiero que regreses en buen tiempo para preparar mi comida, por favor.
Do me a favor, my love. I don't care if you are gone long or not but I want you to please return in time to make my dinner.

No te apures viejo. Todo estará bien.
Don't fret about it old man. Everything will be fine.


Voy y vengo - This is pronounced something like "Boy y BEHNG-oh" only it is pronouunced without aspirating the "b". Many English speakers are taught that the letter b" and the letter "v" are pronounced the same in Mexican Spanish. However, that is not true. When pronouncing the letter "b" in both Spanish and English the lips are closed and a little bit of air pressure is built up behing the lips and when the lips are opened there is a puff of air that accompanies the sound of the "b". With the English letter "v" the top of the bottom lip is curled back to touch the top teeth and a vibrating sound is made with the lips open. When pronouncing the Mexican Spansih "v" the same process is used as with the letter "b" except that the lips remain slightly open and there is no build up and subsequent release of air or in other words there is no big "puff" of air. In reality this is a very subtle difference but it is noticeable. Even so, when spelling things out, Mexican speakers will often differentiate between the "b" and the "v" by saying "beh grande" or "beh larga" for the letter "b" and by saying "u-veh" (oo-veh) or "veh corta" for the letter "v". Try practicing the English and Spanish b and v and take note of where your lips are in relation to each other and to your teeth.

Voy de pisa y corre - The phrase "de pisa y corre" mean the equivalent of the English "pop over to" or "just run over to" or "just duck into". It comes from the verb "pisar" to tread or to trample, and the verb "correr" to run. "Pisa y corre" is also used as a baseball term meaning "to tag up" or to run after a fly ball is caught".

Voy a comprar - The phrase "Voy a" + an infinitive is a very good construction for beginners to learn. It means "going to" as in "going to do something. If you use "voy a" without an infinitive it means that you are going somewhere as in "Voy a la tienda". If you are traveling to another place you use the reflexive form as in "Me voy a Morelia".

Ahorita vengo. - This phrase means "I'll be right back" but in Mexico it doesn't mean "I'll be right back for sure". Many times it is just used as a place holder and the actual time that elapses between going and coming back can vary quite a bit. In fact, in some cases it means that the person probably won't return. For example, if you are sitting next to someone at a party or a wedding and the conversation gets dull they may say, "Con permiso, ahorita vengo". They are begging your pardon to absent themselves for a moment as if they need to go to the bathroom or they saw a freind that they want to say hello to. In reality, they just want to leave you and don't want to say something awkward. Both parties understand what is happening and it is no big deal. It is just being polite. If someone really means that they will be right back for sure they will often say, "Ahoritita vengo". That means that they positiveley will return.

OK Papi. - The word "Papi (PAH-pee) is a form of Papá (father). It is a term of endearment used by both wives and children.

habla por los codos - When someone "habla por los codos" or "talks by the elbows" it means that they talk and talk non-stop.


Steve Cotton said...

Bob -- Thanks for the "b" and "v" tips. They really helped me. Now, I need to figure out how to make the "s" at the end of words disappear -- just like the locals.

bordersaside said...

Its funny because my husband has been on an old Mexican movie kick this week. He looks them up on U Tube. They have the full movies on there but in separate parts. I wasn't watching with him although I should. Something funny about the v and b we saw a car shortly after I moved here that said Se Bende. I enjoyed that fact that I knew it was wrong, and an obviously native speaker messed it up. ;) I know I shouldn't have but I did. hee hee.

GlorV1 said...

javon or jabon? :) great post. My step-mom loved Pedro Infante. Have a great week.

1st Mate said...

Bob - Thanks so much for sharing these expressions, not only so I can try them out and surprise my maestra but so that I may recognize them when I hear them. I'd never guess about that elbow remark, for instance, but now I can just picture somebody gripping me by the elbow so she can turn me into a captive audience. If only the Mexican movies could be digitally slowed down so I could catch up with the dialogue…

YayaOrchid said...

Boy, you sure do know the nuances of the unspoken language Bob! Like about the person saying 'i'll be right back', but not really meaning it. :)

Anonymous said...

I once offered a friend "una torta jabón con mayonesa."

Calypso said...

"Haz me un favor mi amor. No me importa si tardes o no pero quiero que regreses en buen tiempo para preparar mi comida, por favor."

I wrote that one down as mi esposa gets caught in neighborhood gab quite often ;-) Gracias.

Unknown said...

I respectfully disagree with your explanation of "b" and "v".
In general terms the two are pronounced identically if located in the same part of a word. For instance Vaca and Baca are exactly the same. The intervocalic version is softer for both, cabo-cava.
I've had many people in Spain and Latin America insist that there is a difference by exaggerating their pronunciation... who then instantly revert to identical pronunciation when not paying attention.

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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.