Thursday, 17 May 2012

Here, there and everywhere

A few postings ago, I mentioned that I had ordered the soundtrack album of the film 'Habana Blues'
Getting hold of it wasn't as easy as I'd expected.
First, Amazon cancelled my order, because the vendor suddenly found they were out of stock, then the Argentinian record shop, from whom I have bought in the past on Ebay, discovered that their copy was damaged, and also cancelled the order.
With no other options available, I decided to buy the MP3 download from Amazon.
To be honest, burnt to a CD, along with some Julieta Venegas, and a couple of CDs I picked up in Cuba,  and played on my car stereo, I can't tell any difference between CD and MP3.

Anyhow, the point of all this rambling is, that one of the tracks on the CD has quite an interesting title 'Echate p'allá, echate p'acá'
I reckon a fairly close, if rather boring, translation would be 'move yourself over there, move yourself over here', although the use of the verb 'echar' (to throw) does suggest a more energetic movement.
But it did make me think about the differences between 'allí', 'allá', 'acquí' and 'aca' (and let's not forget 'ahí')

I've done quite a bit of reading, and opinions seem to be divided - some will tell you there's no difference between allí and allá, while others will disagree.
The consensus seems to be that they both mean 'there', but vary in terms of distance.

Allí generally refers to a 'there' which is quite close to the speaker, for instance in the same room - 'Ponga la silla allí por favór' (put the chair there, please) but carries a sense of 'over there', so we're dealing with a location which you can see, and point to.
Allá, on the other hand, suggests a much greater distance so, if you were talking to your Mexican friend on Skype, you might say '¿que tiempo hace allá?' (what's the weather like, over there?)
There are also some expressions which use 'allá', such as 'más allá', which means 'beyond'
Finally, there's 'ahí', which is apparently becoming more popular in modern speech, which suggests even closer proximity, for instance the salt, on the table just  out of reach 'está ahí'

The difference between 'aquí' and 'acá' is also very subtle, with 'aquí' pretty much referring to the exact spot you're standing on, while 'acá' can refer to your general location so, if we were talking on the phone, I could tell you 'Estoy acá, en Inglaterra, aquí, en mi escritorio' (I'm here in England, here at my desk)

While we're discussing distance, this might be a good opportunity for a quick revision of 'esto', 'eso' and 'aquello'
A lot more straight forward than 'aquí' etc :-)
'Esto' = this - e.g. What's THIS  in my hand? '¿qué es esto, en mi mano?'
'Eso' = that - e.g. What's THAT in your hand? '¿que es eso, en tu mano?'
'Aquello' = that (over there) - e.g.  What's THAT over there? '¿que es aquello?'
Obviously, these examples refer to the pronoun 'THAT', but the sense of distance is equivalent when used with the definite article 'THAT'
e.g. '¿quien es aquel hombre?' - Who's THAT man (over there)?
'Tomo este libro' - I'll take THIS book.

Well, I hope that's cleared things up a bit. Researching the point has certainly helped me to clarify it.

Just one more thing, before I go. . . my Spanish teacher, profesora Ximena, has had an enquiry about lessons, from a reader of this blog (Hi, Reader :-) and has asked me to update references to lesson costs.
The current rate, for new students, wishing to take lessons in her virtual classroom in Second Life, is $10 per hour.
At current exchange rates, that's about £6.35 per hour. I defy anyone to find quality Spanish tuition cheaper, anywhere else!
See her SL profile at

¡Hasta la próxima! , or just join Second Life and search for ximenamodotti.carami