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Different Ways to Translate the Same Phrase

 

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  #1  
Old May 19, 2020, 11:32 AM
BullShifter5000 BullShifter5000 is offline
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Different Ways to Translate the Same Phrase

Hello,

When I look up the phrase “can he walk?” in a Spanish dictionary, it’s always “¿Puede caminar?” However, I was watching Live PD, and the officer was talking to a woman in Spanish about her son, and he asked her (in Spanish) “can he walk?” (I know this because of the subtitles). There weren’t Spanish subtitles so I don’t know exactly what he said in Spanish, but it sounded like he said “¿sí camina él?”

My question is, first of all, what do you think he could’ve possibly said? And second of all, how come he didn’t use the verb “poder”? Are there different ways to say the same verb that schools and dictionaries don’t tell?

Hopefully this makes sense. If not, I’ll expound.

Thank you!
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  #2  
Old May 19, 2020, 11:52 AM
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Yes, there's often more than one way to say something, in all languages I've studied.

In fact, the standard way to ask in Spanish if someone can walk (has the ability to do so) does not involve the auxiliary 'poder'.

The officer asked, “¿Si camina él?”
The first word is 'if'. This could have also been preceded by 'que' if his train of thought was disconnected, or if the woman had a questioning look.
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Old May 19, 2020, 12:26 PM
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This makes sense. Thanks for the help!
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Old May 19, 2020, 12:27 PM
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¡No hay de qué!
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Old May 19, 2020, 02:28 PM
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Rusty's explanation is logical, but in colloquial speech, the question is actually "¿ camina él?"
The "sí" here is an emphasis that implies I've already considered the opposite situation, but I want to confirm:


- ¿Sí quieres agua?
Do you want some water? -> Something in your attitude tells me you may not want water, but I'll offer it anyway to be sure.
- Ya sé que todo está cerrado, pero ¿sí está abierto el bar?
I know that everything is closed, but is the bar open though? -> Since many places aren't allowed to work, I want to make sure the bar is open.
- Sí tienes dinero, ¿verdad?
You do have money, don't you? -> I suspect you may not have enough money to pay for something, so I'm checking before we get awkward.
- Ya vi que el niño está en silla de ruedas, pero ¿sí camina?
I see the child is in a wheelchair, but can he walk? -> He's obviously impaired, but maybe he is able to walk a few steps.
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Old May 19, 2020, 03:06 PM
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Thanks, Angelica. Semantics fail me sometimes.
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Old May 19, 2020, 03:23 PM
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It's a very colloquial construction, and it's definitely not logical, as it assumes everyone knows what I'm thinking.
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