November 12, 2007

¿Por qué no te callas?

I hate Hugo Chavez. He's an idiot and a tyrant. When I see those oil commercials with Americans, New Yorkers, talking about how thankful they are for Venezuela selling them discounted heating oil, I want to puke.

It's discounted because it's stolen, you idiots.

So, even though Spain is run by Socialists right now, when King Juan Carlos asked why Chavez doesn't shut up, I kind of cheered.

The title of this post is the king's verbatim remark as I found it on Barcepundit.

My Spanish is functional but not fluent, but I feel comfortable giving you a break down of the translation.

Por qué means Why. Literally, I guess you could break it into Por meaning "For" and qué meaning "what" leaving "reason" implied.

No is the standard term for negation in English as well.

Callarse is a reflexive verb which means that when it is used, you have to include an object pronoun (I think that's what it's called) with the conjugation to let the listener know who is affected by the verb. Callas is the second person form of the word.

means "to keep quiet , be quiet, shut up, be silent, remain silent." So, literally, te callas means "you shut yourself up." It's not a very polite thing to say to someone.

What's more, the king has used the informal you in the pronoun te. The formal is se.

Speakers of French will recognize a parallel to tous tu and vous. Feel free to correct me here, my understanding of French is very limited and constrained by my ability to quickly figure out cognates between it and all the other words I know in English and every other language. English lost its thees and thous and all that a long time ago, so English speakers sometimes have trouble with this.

is familiar. You only use it when talking to friends or other people you know very well. It is could be considered impolite, unprofessional, or even rude to misuse it. You can also use it to address children.

In this particular context, professionalism would be expected, which makes the king's comment combined with the fact that he got up and walked out of the session all that much more devastating.

I agree with Gus Van Horn's analysis of the event, but before I get to that, watch the video:

Around 0:23, Juan Carlos leans forward and asks Chavez why he doesn't shut up.  You don't have to speak Spanish to tell that he is exasperated by Chavez's attempts to interrupt the speaker, Sr. Zapatero, the current Spanish Prime Minister.

As Gus tells it rightly (daily and nightly*), Chavez doesn't shut up because no one ever holds him accountable for behaving like a childish ass.  Even here, the BBC makes it sound like Juan Carlos was the one out of line even though Hugo Chavez is the one following the Bill O'Reilly school of debate.  That might work on Fox News, but it isn't anywhere considered to be polite.

From Gus:

Hugo Chavez is has a long track record of behaving like an infant on the international stage, and is well-known for oppressing his own people, as well as for meddling in the affairs of other countries. He should remain uninvited to any summit of civilized nations. The leftist press is not blameless here, but the greater share of the blame lies with the many politicians who will not stand up to Chavez, even if only to call a spade a spade.

Now that I think of it, the king of Spain can be called for something here: stooping so low as to attend a conference in which Hugo Chavez got to pose as a civilized man in the first place!

* I'm so very, very sorry for that.  I'll stop.  (Collaborate and listen...)

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 11:49 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
Category: In the News
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1 En Français, on dit «tu,» pas «tous.»  Tous is a plural form of tout, which is the adjective "all."  Tu is the second person singular (familiar) to which you are referring.  Otherwise, the analogy is entirely accurate.


Posted by: Qwertz at November 12, 2007 12:15 PM (SlU3W)

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