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Using "tú" in impersonal expressions

 

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  #1  
Old May 06, 2009, 09:45 PM
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Using "tú" in impersonal expressions

I'm currently reading a book that was written in English and translated into Spanish. The translator uses the "tú" form extensively to translate the English impersonal "you" phrases. "Para llegar a ese lugar, tienes que tomar un camión..."

I didn't know that this was a standard usage in Spanish: I always thought the impersonal "se" was used, or the "hay que..." construction. Is this just a quirk of the translator, or is it used more than I suspected?

Actualmente leo un libro que fue escrito in inglés y traducido a español. La traductora usa mucha la forma de "tú" para traducir las frases impersonal de la segunda persona.

No sabía que esto era un uso estandár en español, siempre creía que se usa la "se" impersonal o una construcción con "hay que...". ¿Tiene algo que ver del estilo de la traductora o se usa más que yo pensaba?

BTW: The book is "Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail" by Rubén Martínez and "Cruzando la Frontera" en español. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand in more than a superficial way why Latin Americans migrate NOB in such overwhelming numbers and the dangers they face making the journey. A book guaranteed to break your heart if you have one.
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  #2  
Old May 07, 2009, 10:21 AM
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My opinion is that it is acceptable. However, earlier in the Spanish language it wasn't. I feel like many grammatical rules that used to be enforced, are now being less stringent. As far as linguistics, this happens with any language, including English. Languages change over time, that's a fact, and that's my opinion on the impersonal "se," that now one can say "tu" and have it be globally (at least to some extent) acceptable.

For example, I went all through grammar classes learning a rule such as:
Darse cuenta de que....(whatever may follow). That de must be included, or it's ungrammatical. Now it's acceptable, and more importantly grammatical, to say simply "darse cuenta que."

So my argument is that of how a language changes throughout time. And that's the explanation for this very case. This case jumps into linguistics and language variability (and changing.)
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Old May 07, 2009, 10:28 AM
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"Tú" as an impersonal is very common and sometimes more used than "uno" or just "se". It rather depends on the style of the one who's talking but it's correct and well accepted.


@Nico: The right expression is "darse cuenta de (que)". Many people fear using too much "de que" and think it will be better to omit "de", but that's actually grammatically incorrect.
It's true the language can only be a flexible institution, and that is made by the speakers' mannerisms... but still, if you use it, have in mind you learnt it the right way before.
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Old May 07, 2009, 10:37 AM
Nico Nico is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelicaDeAlquezar View Post
"Tú" as an impersonal is very common and sometimes more used than "uno" or just "se". It rather depends on the style of the one who's talking but it's correct and well accepted.


@Nico: The right expression is "darse cuenta de (que)". Many people fear using too much "de que" and think it will be better to omit "de", but that's actually grammatically incorrect.
It's true the language can only be a flexible institution, and that is made by the speakers' mannerisms... but still, if you use it, have in mind you learnt it the right way before.
Yeah, I understand. When I was speaking about grammaticality, I was strictly sticking to what's considered "gramatical" in linguistic terms. According to that specific definition, native speakers of a language determine what's grammatical and what's not. There are two different kinds of grammar, prescriptive and descriptive. I was obviously sticking to the side of "descriptive" saying that it was grammatically correct. Saying it would be prescriptive, like the side you were taking, was saying that it "should" be said like darse cuenta de (que). I might have just confused everyone far too much, sorry!
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Old May 07, 2009, 11:16 AM
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"Darse cuenta" is an expression which uses the preposition "de". How could we know if we must use the preposition or not. Simply, constructing the question:

Me he dado cuenta de que me he dejado el reloj
¿De qué te has dado cuenta? (¿Qué te has dado cuenta?* wouldn't be correct)

This mistake of the lacking of the preposition is very common and it is called "queísmo". "Dequeísmo" will be the contrary: to put the preposition when it is not necessary, and the question will give the clue to know the correct way:

Pienso que me iré pronto (Pienso de que me iré pronto* is not correct)
¿Qué piensas? (¿De qué piensas?* wouldn't be correct neither)

By the other side, the use of "you" instead an impersonal sentence is very common in Spanish, but I think that in English there is something similar. For instance, I can say:

It's said that tomorrow it will rain - Se dice que mañana lloverá
People say that tomorrow... - La gente dice que mañana ...

Were you reading a description or a dialogue? Because the way of writing and speaking is different. For instance:

Description: Es un camino largo y solitario. Si se tuerce a la izquierda en el primer cruce, se llega a la iglesia, desde donde se vislumbra un precioso paisaje.

Dialogue:
- ¿Ves ese camino? Sigue todo recto, en el primer cruce, gira a la izquierda, llegarás a la iglesia, desde donde podrás disfrutar de un hermoso paisaje.

The last one the imperative is used.

I hope it'll be helpful.
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Old May 07, 2009, 12:00 PM
Nico Nico is offline
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Right, I agree with all that, and I agree that the preposition "de" should be included. I was getting too much in the linguistics of the term grammaticality. For anyone who cares on the subject, go to the following link: http://www.ling.udel.edu/eastwick/li...de_vs_pre.html

It discusses descriptive vs prescriptive grammar. Since grammaticality is defined by the native speakers of the language, technically saying "darse cuenta que" is grammatical, because native speakers of the language use it, and it is understood. This is an example of descriptive grammar. It is not taking any side, it is simply saying that it is used by natives. Prescriptive grammar, on the other hand, is what you both are referring to, "darse cuenta" should be used with "de." It is like a prescription, some native speakers say that's how it should be.

We have tons of cases of prescriptive vs descriptive grammar in English, as well (if you follow the attached link, you will see more examples).

For example, descriptive grammar would simply say "prepositions are commonly used at the end of a sentence in English"
I.E. Where are you at?

On the contrary, presciptive grammar would say "prepositions are not supposed to be used at the end of a sentence.
I.E. Where are you at? Where are you?

There are tons of other examples of this, for example saying:
"Me and her went to the store" instead of...
"She and I went to the store" (prescriptive grammar and how it "should" be)

If this is over your heads, I apologize. I am just trying to understand the term grammaticality as it is defined linguistically, and how it is further broken down into descriptive and prescriptive. Thus, the term "grammatically correct" and its variants, is much more profound than anyone who hasn't studied linguistics would suspect.
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Old May 07, 2009, 12:14 PM
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I agree with you and I'm grateful to you for the link. I've saved and I'll take a look later. Here these topics are called "lingüística prescriptiva y descriptiva" instead of grammar, but it's the same (maybe there is a prescription in the name ). Languages live because people speak them and they change continuously. You can see here that a Mexican and a Spanish have a lot of common words, but there are also many of them which are different or with a another meaning. I can see it with British and American English too. Anyway, I like following the rules, I prefer prescriptive grammar
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