it’s a matter of translation

Date May 11, 2009

There are things about Colombia that have had to grow on me and things that I’m only just figuring out and things that I have a feeling will haunt me forever and I’m grateful for them all.

Something in particular that seems to inhabit all of the above listed categories are phrases that I hear repeated over and over again here.  They’re a different way of saying things and they strike me as beautiful every time I hear them.  How could I not share?

“A la orden.”

It’s a simple saying used in supermarkets, department stores, taxis and occassionally by friends or students with an affectionate smirk.  It means “at your service” and may be used in different contexts.  For example, “I love your shoes, Maria.”  “A la orden, Mees.”

“Te mando un besito.”

At the end of phone conversations, people don’t say goodbye.  They send you a kiss and usually make the muah sound, too.  Now, how cute is that?  I think I just might try it out when I get home.

“Con mucho gusto.”

Before I came to Colombia, the only way I’d ever heard of to say “you’re welcome” in Spanish was de nada.  Here, we never use that phrase.  We say “con mucho gusto” and though it’s used the same way situationally, the literal translation is “with much pleasure” and that just makes me smile.

“Mi Dios le pague.”

I think this might be my favorite.  I’d heard it said scores of times before I actually caught the phrase in its entirety and understood it completely.  When you do something kind for someone, especially an unexpected or unearned kindness, the person rarely says thank you.  They say, “Mi Dios le page.”  My God shall pay you.

And so, friends, es con mucho gusto that I write this little blog for you and should you ever need a Spanish translator, of course, es a la orden.  But, I must warn you, my Spanish still has some significant holes in it.  Still, should you choose this imperfect me, I assure you that mi Dios le page.  Until then, te mando muchos besitos!  MUAH!

6 Responses to “it’s a matter of translation”

  1. Emily said:

    Love this post! There’s so many great Spanish phrases that just don’t translate into English. I’m glad somebody else gets it.

  2. Summer said:

    You are just adorable! I love this post, on so many levels. But, my favorite part is that you’re not joking at all about making a kiss sound at the end of a phone conversation. I totally expect you to incorporate this into all of your other wonderful Emily-isms!

  3. Blake said:

    I wanted to post here what I told you in chat about how you can use your new phrases, but I decided not to.

  4. Lou said:

    I want you to pronouce the last one (mi Dios le page) for me when you get home because I absolutely love that. I think America needs to adopt that one.

  5. Connie Jaramillo said:

    love it!!!!

  6. Bryan J. said:

    Hmm, How do you pronounce “page”. At first glance, I would pronounce it like “pague”, the past tense of Pagar, but I am not so sure. So how does it sound?