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Old April 22, 2008, 10:48 AM
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"ao" at the end

I'm just beginning to learn spanish and I try to translate songs for practice learning new words. Right now I'm trying to translate Celia Cruz - La Negra Tiene tumbao and I can't figure out what it means when "-ao" is added to the end of a verb as it is done several times throughout the song. I'd appreciate any help.
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  #2  
Old April 22, 2008, 11:28 AM
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The past participle in Spanish ends in -ado, but very often we mispronounce and say -ao.
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Old April 22, 2008, 11:29 AM
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The 'ao' at the end of some of the words is simply a shortened form of 'ado,' the ending of a past participle:
encontrao = encontrado
apretao = apretado

For others, it is used as a rhyming mechanism, but happens to also be how many people pronounce the words and the spelling follows suit:
lao = lado (side - de lao = 'sideways')
melao = melado (honey color - could also mean honey and a form of speaking or language)

Tumbao is the name of the rhythm used in the song and isn't a shortened form of any Spanish word.


Learning Spanish by translating songs will prove to be a daunting task. Songs are a mix of prose, thoughts, and obscure meanings. But, I won't try to discourage your enthusiasm for learning by whatever means works best for you.

Last edited by Rusty; April 22, 2008 at 11:36 AM.
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Old April 22, 2008, 12:57 PM
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Rusty,

Thank you for the information. Yes, I've found that translating songs can be difficult because you can't always translate directly into english. Sometimes I get frustrated because I feel like I'm not learning fast enough. I may be overloading myself w/ spanish to the point where it is having the opposite effect - translating songs, listening to salsa music all day while I work, watching Telemundo, and practicing from workbooks every chance I get! The only thing I don't do is practice speaking the language. I don't have anyone I can converse with on a regular basis. Any suggestions?
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Old April 22, 2008, 01:01 PM
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Let me see if I can give you an idea of the translation task you're up against with just this sentence from the song:
La negra tiene tumbao y no camina de lao

Some translate this as 'The black girl has rhythm/attitude.'

I think it is more like:
The dark-skinned beauty sways voluptuously, vibrantly aware she is turning heads

The words used in a Spanish song can convey a lot of meaning, some probably known only to the author. (This is true of many English songs, too.) Tener tumbao can mean 'to have rhythm,' but I think the song conveys something more. An old and decrepit person is said to caminar de lado. The lady of the song is just the opposite; she is young and vibrant, and her moves reflect it. We could use a lot of words to describe her in English, but I think I got close.

Suffice it to say, Spanish songs carry a lot of meaning and I find it extremely difficult to convey all that feeling in English. When I try to translate Spanish songs, I can seldom come up with an English translation that do the words justice.


One more quick translation you won't find in a dictionary:
dulce como el melao = sweet as molasses
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Old April 22, 2008, 01:07 PM
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Wow...I guess I need to step back and learn the basics before taking on such a task as tranlating songs! I don't even know how to conjugate all the verb tenses yet. This just motivates me to learn the language even more.
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Old April 22, 2008, 01:07 PM
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Speaking with someone on a regular basis is the most important thing you can do. The only way to learn the language is to immerse yourself in it. It sounds like you're trying to do just that. Seek friends that speak Spanish on a regular basis and find every way to speak to them in Spanish. Don't worry at all about making mistakes, or what they think. In reality, they'll be thrilled that you're trying to learn their language and they'll help you.

Learning isn't an event, it's a life-long pursuit.
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Old April 22, 2008, 01:20 PM
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Thank you so much for the suggestions and encouragement...it is much appreciated.
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Old April 22, 2008, 01:22 PM
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Old April 22, 2008, 01:25 PM
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Nice translations Rusty
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