English translations don't always make sense

First of all, some background on me. Two years of high school Spanish decades ago; I learned enough to half fill a small, fast food taco shell. A failed attempt to learn Spanish on another language site, and now, about 4 days into my free trial here. Something about Spanish makes me think it will be easy to learn, until I try.

I realize there are sentence structure differences between Spanish and English, what I didn’t expect was major differences in how we say things in each language. I look at the translation and am surprised the English is so different from the Spanish, enough so to make me question how I would ever know to express the thought in Spanish as I do in English. Anyone else wrestling with that?

Just came across an example of the above while doing flashcards.

“no hay marera de que yo te lo pueda validar.” The translation focuses on “yo te” with the English being “I to you”.

One more.

“Mira, me tenes re podrido.” English: “Look, I’m fed up with you” with “re podrido” being “so rotten”.

There must be certain phrases in each language that are simply not used in the other. I can imagine a Spanish speaking person attempting to learn English having no idea what is meant by “I’m fed up with you”, just as I would never think to use “rotten” to express the same thing?

3 Likes

Hi! :wave: Spanish speakers express themselves differently as they’re a different culture, and something really great about that is learning and seeing the differences among the cultures. As every language, the process of learning it takes time.
The good thing about Spanish is that it doesn’t have so rigid structures. And as there are so many varieties of Spanish there are different ways of expressing yourself. Because of the different varieties, even to Spanish speakers who live in different hispanic countries sometimes it’s difficult to understand what the other person is saying :exploding_head:. And therefore, you get to make yourself clear no matter the order you give to the words.
Something that really helps is listening to the language constantly in different situations and contexts. Besides, interacting with natives really helps to understand it better when communicating your ideas and also to learn about different cultures. Another thing which is really useful is to learn some words/ phrases everyday and to repeat them.
When learning a language and when we speak to others we are petrified to talk so as not to make a mistake. However, that’s the only way of learning. And if you have a direct contact with the language, you’ll learn common ways of expressing it and many things about the target culture.
As learning every language is a process, for example for Spanish people it’s sometimes difficult to understand English phrasal verbs, of how a simple preposition can change the meaning depending on the context. For instance, “turn down” can mean “reduce the amount of sound” [bajar el volumen] :headphones: or “reject an offer/request” [rechazar].
For Spanish speakers this is quite difficult as we have different verbs/ words to express the same English phrasal verb, all depends on the context.
But every language has its pecularities, and that’s wonderful about learning it. :blush:
I hope you find this useful

3 Likes

Hi Coyotewm!

Don’t be discouraged! I have been there! One thing I’ve noticed is that the more I expose myself to the language and hear/see these expressions that seem so odd to me at first, the more they start to make sense to me. Then, when I’m speaking, all of a sudden these expressions pop out of my own mouth that I didn’t even realize I had assimilated.

Just keep watching shows, reading in the language, and practicing speaking, and have faith that your brain will incorporate it. I have learned that not every expression has to be translatable directly into our native language in order to be something we can understand and use in our second language.

All the best!

1 Like