Ya, no!

Tools for learning Spanish“Ya, no” is an everyday Spanish expression that is a bit of a conundrum to me.

Where I come from, “ya” is slang for yes and “no” is no, so to me, what the speaker is saying is “yes, no.” Yes, no, what? Which is it? Yes or no?

Even though I now know that “ya, no” means not anymore or no longer (literally “already, no” or “no already”), I still hear “yes, no.”

This is just one of a number of confusing expressions such as:

  • La manana de la manana – the first manana means the morning, and the second manana means tomorrow. I don’t know how many times I have tried to say I was going to do something in the morning and we ended up in a whole conversation about tomorrow? No, I meant today. Esta manana.Now really, you’d think they could come up with a different word for one of the two!
  • And why is it you say, “Buenas dias,” instead of Buenas Manana Heaven forbid you should say, Buenas dias (literally “Good day”) past noon. Are Mexicans so fanatical about their greetings because the listener would not know if you were wishing them “Good morning” or “Good tomorrow?”
  • There are similar words like caro and carro. The first means expensive, and the second is actually a cart but is used to say car. The difference is the two rrs are rolled or trilled, which I cannot do (yet anyway). So I could be talking about a car or something expensive, unless I am talking about a caro carro.
  • Words that look exactly like an English word but are pronounced totally differently really throw me. Try getting your mind around the word idea pronounced “e DAY ah” starting with a long E. Same word different pronunciation.Or sea – that is not sea as in  “sea to shining sea,” it is “SA ah” a form of  ser (to be.)
  • Perhaps my favorite word of all is pronounced “au REE ta;” don’t ask me how to spell it though, because I could not find it in any dictionary. I was hearing it all the time in conversation and asked what it meant and the answer I received was that it could mean: now, right this second, in a moment, wait a minute, in a short while, after a while, sometime, and even, perhaps, maybe, but not likely anytime soon. Or something like that.

Ya no?

What is an example of your favorite language conundrum?

5 thoughts on “Ya, no!

  1. Deborah, Bret and I had so much fun with this blog. We especially liked au ree ta!

    “Is breakfast ready?” “Au ree ta” “When are you coming home?” “Au ree ta of course!”

    I understand language problems. Getting your head around a language is understanding the culture. Learning Kayah is a challenge because it is a tonal language. TOE is both yes and no. Yes is said high and no is said low. NGO is both tears or word. Preh can be person or again. If you use the wrong tones you can be telling them, “yes again word.” Which gets very confused looks… When you are trying to say, yes the person cried.

    A tonal language has been a challenge and I still rarely understand anything said to me unless I know the subject.

    I have decided to stick with learning Kayah and not worry about learning Burmese. Learning two languages at the same time didn’t happen…

    I have prayed to Jehovah for one good Kayah study. Interestingly I came across Mar Reh. He had so much interest and we have had 3 good studies. Unfortunately he is moving to NC in a few days. I was used to plant seeds and he helped me fill out the yellow slip to turn in to the branch to have someone call on him in his new home. Hopefully the angels find him quickly! He has solo many questions. It felt so good to use my Kayah again! I pray that Jah will use me more in that capacity. I am still praying for that one good study.

    Love your blogs. You usually post one just as I am getting ready for bed so I get to read your blog before I close my eyes.


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