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    Default Idioms

    I started corresponding with a lawyer in Danli, Honduras about 6 months ago. She writes me in Spanish. I get it translated online. But these translation software programs translate literally. I do not speak Spanish (had a class in it years ago). She does not speak English. For the most part, I do OK. But I am having trouble with idios. For example, she uses "mi cielo" in almost every message. It means "my sky." But what is the equivalent English meaning?

    Today I got a message which made no sense at all to me: "Buenas noches Rick mi cielo como esta, como la ha pasado hoy?" What is a "good" translation of that?

    Last question: Is urban Honduran Spanish different from urban Mexican Spanish? If so, by how much?

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    Senior Member Cotty's Avatar
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    Default Re: Idioms

    Hi Rick, mi cielo is a term of endearment that means my darling, sweetheart and the like. Although, as you point out, it literally means my sky, cielo in Spanish also refers to heaven. So you can take it from there since heaven is precious, happy, etc.

    In regard to the difference between Honduran Sp & Mex Sp, I cannot help you with that for I've never been in either one, but in general terms, every country in Latin America speak Spanish with lexical, syntactic and phonetic variations. Much as it is the case with American, Canadian or British English. I am sure someone here will be able to help you with that.

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    Default Re: Idioms

    I agree with everything Cotty said.

    Additionally, I would translate the phrase "Buenas noches Rick mi cielo como esta, como la ha pasado hoy?" as: "Good night Rick, dear. How are you, how did it go today?" Note that although she calls you "mi cielo," she is still speaking formally (usted, not tú)

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    Default Re: Idioms

    >>Buenas noches Rick mi cielo como esta, como la ha pasado hoy?"<<

    Good evening Rick, darling/dear. How are you? How did it go today?

    I don't agree with your comment about the formal use of usted there. In countries like Colombia usted is used even between brothers and sisters, best friends and even lovers, where formality is not required. Maybe that is the case with Honduran Spanish too. In Spanish formality is not automatically given by the use of usted but also by the rest of the words of the text, tone, etc.

    The use of Ud. vs tú varies greatly from country to country, and oddly enough, it doesn't always express formality.

    In my opinion, had she intended to be really formal with him, she wouldn't have used mi cielo at all. There's no way in Spanish that you'd want to be formal and address someone like that.
    Last edited by Cotty; 12-29-2010 at 04:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Idioms

    I think another interesting part of this translation is "buenas noches".

    "Good night" is used either when going to bed or when saying goodbye in the evening.

    "Good evening" is a greeting, but is very formal and is only used in speeches and presentations and other formal situations.

    I don't think either one works here, because you don't start an email by saying goodbye, and an email to "mi cielo" isn't formal.

    You would probably have to change it to something like "hello".

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    Senior Member Cotty's Avatar
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    Default Re: Idioms

    You have a point there. I agree with good evening being a sort of a formal greeting. But, buenas noches is never as informal as a simple hello, and she did write buenas noches not hola. I guess there's nothing in between good evening and hello in English.

    When I was growing up my parents didn't like me to greet them with an hola, I had to say buenos días, tardes o noches. That shows how informal hola sounds to some people. I think this has changed a lot, but still hola is very informal and is mostly favored by young people.

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    Default Re: Idioms

    Yes, but we're translating to English and in English, in that situation, most likely someone would say "hi" or "hello" ("Hello" is rather formal in English as compared to "hi", probably much more formal, judging by what you say, than "hola".)

    Saying "good night" is incorrect and misleading and saying "good evening" is jarringly inappropriate. So what else is there except something along the lines of "hello"?

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    Senior Member Cotty's Avatar
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    Default Re: Idioms

    Sure...I agree, thats why I wrote:

    >>I guess there's nothing in between good evening and hello in English.<<

    Meaning we had to stick to hello.

    Hola is both hello/hi, the line between the two is very fine.
    Last edited by Cotty; 12-30-2010 at 06:16 PM.

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