View Full Version : "my foot" in Spanish

Kathie Freeman
07-16-2011, 09:03 PM
No, not the anatomical reference, but an expression of extreme scepticism or disbelief. In this scene the family has arrived in California only to find that due to a housing shortage the uncle hasn't been able to secure a suitable house for them. Having just driven through the greater Los Angeles area, the teenage daughter finds this hard to swallow.

I could just have her say "Falta de casas, no lo creo" but it was hoping for something a little more expressive. Any ideas?

07-16-2011, 09:47 PM
"Pocas casas, sí, como no." (few houses, yeah, as if.)

Kathie Freeman
07-17-2011, 08:48 PM
Thanks. Now, how would you say "This place is the pits"?

07-17-2011, 08:50 PM
As in, very bad? "Este lugar es un basurero." (this place is a dumpyard)

mar quest
07-18-2011, 04:00 AM
I wouldn't say faltas de casas...

I'd probably go for something like, Cómo que no habían casas, y ¿éstas que están aquí?

About the place is the pits...

Esto es una pocilga- this is a pigsty. Esto es un arrabal - slum. Esto es un cuchitril - a hovel. But for real emphasis, Esto es una mierda.

note: the suggestions here might not be suitable translations. The choice of expressions would depend on many things, such as the voice of your character and his/her cultural background.

07-18-2011, 08:48 AM
Cómo que no habían casas, y ¿éstas que están aquí?

Translation: What do you mean there were no houses, what about these ones?

Kathie Freeman
07-18-2011, 08:18 PM
When she says "This place is the pits" what she really means is that she hates the situation, the house, the big mean dog, and her aunt who doesn't like her cat.

mar quest
07-19-2011, 04:33 AM
I feel kinda of guilty just giving you suggestions without having read your MS first. Language isn't just about words but about perceptions that's why it's so hard to translate. Anyway, here are some suggestions:

¡Esto es un infierno!
¡Qué infierno!
Esto es una mierda.

07-19-2011, 05:08 AM
Or simply "Odio este lugar!!" (I hate this place)

Kathie Freeman
07-20-2011, 08:10 PM
Great, thanks guys.

Deb Kinnard
07-21-2011, 01:16 AM
I'd also suggest: "este lugar es un mamarracho" (this place is a mess) or "este lugar apesta" (this place stinks).

If you want your character to express disbelief, a common phrase for that is "en tus sueños" (in your dreams).

07-21-2011, 01:33 AM
I'd also suggest: "este lugar es un mamarracho" (this place is a mess)

I think mamarracho is for persons, not places

Kathie Freeman
07-21-2011, 07:39 PM
I kind of like "este lugar apuesta".

Deb Kinnard
07-22-2011, 03:17 AM
It's "apesta" (from apestar -- to stink). I believe IIRC apuesta means something else.

And I didn't know about "mamarracho" being only for people. Maybe that's a localism? My Spanish comes from a dear Cuban lady (profesora) and people often correct my usage if their Spanish comes from someplace else.

mar quest
07-22-2011, 06:04 AM
Apuesta means to bet or a bet. You must mean apesta, but apesta means it stinks, and in Spanish you wouldn't use the term apesta unless something/someone actually stinks.
If you post an excerpt, I might be able to give you a better suggestion.

07-22-2011, 07:32 AM
apesta means it stinks, and in Spanish you wouldn't use the term apesta unless something/someone actually stinks.

Where I live, we use it as "sucks". Such a diverse word :D

Deb Kinnard
07-22-2011, 10:46 PM
Es una lengua viva, que puede decir cosas distintas en una sola palabra, ¿no?

07-22-2011, 11:19 PM
Es una lengua viva, que puede decir cosas distintas en una sola palabra, ¿no?

a mi gato le huele la boca a croquetas

07-25-2011, 06:58 AM
"lo que sea" ? (English "whatever...")

Apesta means stinks literally or sucks in common usage. It was used that way in the U.S. too when I was a kid: "That stinks!"

mar quest
07-26-2011, 06:40 AM
When I lived in the U.S. some Spanish native and heritage speakers used to turn common English words and phrases into a non idiomatic form of Spanish. This is called Spanglish, hence words like rufo (roof) for techo, fenza (verja) for fence, constipado (extreñido) for constipated. The same goes for phrases like it stinks used as apesta. Spanglish isn’t viewed as “correct”. Educated native speakers avoid it altogether. However, people do speak like that and there’s a reason for it... well more than one but that’s another story.

Since we're talking about writing here, I think it's all about the character and writer's style. Spanglish can give a character a unique perspective. If the character is a Spanish native or heritage speaker living in the U.S. and s/he into Spanglish or if it’s culturally acceptable where s/he comes from, them the phrase este lugar apesta meaning it tinks/sucks/blows is okay. Otherwise, I don’t think it sounds right. I was brought up in Puerto Rico and I don’t remember ever using the expression esto apesta as in this sucks/blows/stinks. Maybe it’s different now. I don’t know. I’ve been living in Oz for 20 years.

Depending on how the OP is writing the story, her character can use other idiomatic or natural-sounding expressions to show how disgusted she's with the place (este sitio me tiene harta, yo no soporto este sito... no puedo más con este sitio...)

There's a bit of flexibility when it comes to writing fiction too. For instance, Dominican-born writer Junot Diaz has a very interesting writing style. He mixes Spanish (Dominican) with English in his stories and it works- well, at least I think so. The reason it works well (IMO) is because it feels natural.

Here's an example:

For what Kennedy's intelligence experts failed to tell him was what every single Dominican, from the richest jabao in Mao to the poorest güey in El Buey, from the oldest anciano sanmacorisano to the littlest carajito in San Francisco.