Vocabulary (Review)

Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Lizzie: Que tal, soy Lizzie.
Allan: Hey there everyone. I’m Allan. I don’t understand even when I ought to. It’s great to be back and we’ve got a ton in store for you today so let’s just cut to the chase.
Lizzie: All business.
Allan: That’s right, Lizzie. Getting down to it. Let’s start by reviewing what we looked at last time.
Lizzie: In the conversation or the grammar?
Allan: First, the conversation.
Lizzie: Ok. We listened to a conversation between Jose and Anna about el libro El amor en los tiempo del cólera.
Allan: Claro la famosa y muy amada obra de Gabriel García Márquez. And what about the grammar?
Lizzie: Estudiamos cómo expresar la posibilidad y la duda con los modos indicativo y subjuntivo en una sola oración.
Allan: Right. How to form an expression of possibility or doubt with the indicative and subjunctive moods in the same sentence like: dudo que llueva. ‘I doubt that it may rain’.
Lizzie: Bueno eso fue todo y ¿ahora que es lo que vamos a estudiar?
Allan: Well, for today’s conversation we’re going to listen to Jose and Ana again, but this time they’re talking about the famous Peruvian novelist, Mario Vargas Llosa. Lizzie, Lizzie, Lizzie ¿qué te parece la obra de Vargas Llosa.
Lizzie: Enfoca totalmente en la realidad, te da fuerte , cruda.
Allan: Raw, strong, real, I couldn’t agree with you more, there is going to be lots for us to talk about today on this author, I think we both love him. And as far as the grammar goes, we’re going to learn the fine art of making impersonal statements.
Lizzie: Sounds like this is going to be another interesting lesson.
Allan: Yeah, there is no doubt about that, Liz. Ok, guys, time to open up those PDFs and get ready to follow along on the lessons transcripts for today’s conversation.
Lizzie: Or if you’re not at your computer, click the central button of your IPod to see the lesson transcript in the display.
Allan: Isn’t technology wonderful? Ok. Let’s get into today’s conversation.
ANA: José, ¿has leído algún libro de Mario Vargas Llosa?
JOSÉ: ¡Pero claro oye! Leí 'Pantaleón y las visitadoras' y también 'La fiesta del chivo'.
ANA: ¡Pucha, es que estoy tratando de leer 'La ciudad y los perros', pero no entiendo ni jota!
JOSÉ: Ya pues, pero así son las novelas del boom latinoamericano: más que nada son narraciones en primera persona, pero no se sabe quién es el narrador.
ANA: Exige mucha interpretación por la parte del lector.
JOSÉ: ¡Asu macho, un montón!
ANA: José, have you ready any of Mario Vargas Llosa's books?
JOSÉ: Hey now, of course I have! I read 'Pantaleón and the Visitors' and also 'The Feast of the Goat'.
ANA: Shoot, the thing is that I'm trying to read 'The City and the Dogs', and I don't understand even an iota!
JOSÉ: Well now, those are the novels of the Latin American Boom for ya': more than anything, they're first person narrations, but one doesn't know who the narrator is.
ANA: It demands a lot of interpretation from the reader.
JOSÉ: Ah, man, a ton!
Allan: ¿Sabes que Lizzie? Van a asustar la gente, Ana y José. No este… Mario Vargas Llosa es un escritor excelente no tan dificil entenderlo. Es alguien que…como te puedo explicar… sus palabras entran por debajo de tu piel. He gets under your skin.
Lizzie: Sí él tiene es habilidad.
Allan: That’s right. And you know what I really love about him is that he is just so versatile and his works have been done in so many different forms. I mean I’ve seen Mario Vargas Llosa’s plays, I’ve read his fiction, his nonfiction, his journalistic essays, movies. You know, Lizzie, a lot of people might not know this, but Mario Vargas Llosa in fact ran for president of Peru in 1990.
Lizzie: Yes.
Allan: Do you remember that ?
Lizzie: Yes.
Allan: I guess Alberto Fujimori…Fujimori in fact, he was favored to win and then Fujimori came out of nowhere and took the presidency away from him.
Lizzie: Mario Vargas Llosa es lo que se llama un hombre sumamente versátil, hábil e ingenioso.
Allan: As our friends can tell that he is somewhat of a hero here in Peru. Ok, guys, but now let’s keep those PDFs open because it’s time to stop talking about literature and go over the vocab. Here we’re going to break those words down syllable by syllable, so that you can hear exactly how each word sounds.
Lizzie: Vamos.
Allan: Ok, amigos, let’s begin with…
Lizzie: más que nada
Allan: More than anything.
Lizzie: más que nada, más que nada
Allan: Ok, next we’ll hear…
Lizzie: ni jota
Allan: Not even an iota, not a thing.
Lizzie: ni jota, ni jota
Allan: Great. Let’s get to…
Lizzie: narración
Allan: Narration.
Lizzie: narración, narración
Allan: Ok, let’s check out…
Lizzie: narrador, narradora
Allan: Narrator.
Lizzie: narrador, narradora, narrador, narradora
Allan: Ok, let’s hear…
Lizzie: exigir
Allan: To demand.
Lizzie: exigir, exigir
Allan: Last, but certainly not least…
Lizzie: lector, lectora
Allan: Reader.
Lizzie: lector, lectora, lector, lectora
Allan: Good. Let’s focus on the pronunciation of the word narración.
Lizzie: narración
Allan: That’s the one. Now, in English we have the word “narration” and notice where the stress falls here “narration”. However, when we pronounce the Spanish counterpart the accent is on the final syllable on the letter “o”. narración
Lizzie: narración
Allan: Also, you’ve got to make sure to roll that double “r”. narración
Lizzie: narración. Muy bien ahora al uso de las palabras.
Allan: Sounds great. So, let’s begin with this phrase más que nada as in:
Lizzie: As in más que nada son narraciones en primera persona,
Allan: Ok. Here we have a phrase made up of how many words, Liz?
Lizzie: tres
Allan: más que nada These aren’t really new words to us, but together the meaning is definitely new. So, let’s start by translating them literally. Lizzie, what does más mean?
Lizzie: More.
Allan: And the word que?
Lizzie: Than.
Allan: And nada?
Lizzie: Nothing.
Allan: So, literally we have “more than nothing”. However, this is kind of weird, isn’t it? It’s a figurative translation of this phrase “more than anything”, so in the example más que nada son narraciones en primera persona, we would say “more than anything there are first person narrations”.
Lizzie: bueno sigamos con la próxima frase que es: ni jota.
Allan: Ni jota. What a great expression. So, if we think way back to the Spanish phonetics series we recall that the word jota can refer to the letter “j”. However, it has another meaning, too. But first, let’s contextualize this. Lizzie, would you do me the honors, please?
Lizzie: ¡Estoy tratando de leer 'La ciudad y los perros', pero no entiendo ni jota!
Allan: Now, there is a little background info for you. The word jota comes from the Latin word iota and when we use it in this way in Spanish and English means an infinitesimal amount. Barely anything.
Lizzie:¿ Y la expresión no entiendo ni jota?
Allan: Well that’s just a humorous way to say that you’re ignorant about something.
Lizzie: Claro y bueno también debo mencionar que aquí en el Perú decimos a menudo: no entiendo ni papa.
Allan: I love that expression. No entiendo ni papa. Literally, “I don’t understand even a potato”. But obviously, friends, this is what of those idiomatic expressions you guys are always using food words in your idiomatic expressions. And hey, using these food words is a real indication of the importance that food has in this culture, especially the potato.
Lizzie: Yes, and as you know Allan, we’re in the year of the potato in our country, so when your students relish fried potatoes or mashed potatoes remember Peru’s delicious and nutritious potatoes were cultivated here since before the 9th century.
Allan: That’s right and now there’s more than three thousand varieties of potatoes in Peru. And it’s just amazing and most of those potatoes never make it abroad but you can get blue potatoes, green potatoes, potatoes that taste as apple, large scale, small potatoes.
Lizzie: Ya me provoco Allan.
Allan: You know, Lizzie, we always end up talking about food you and I. Away from food, back to literature. What do you call the act of writing una narración?
Lizzie: Es el acto de narrar.
Allan: Aha, so narrar means “to narrate”. And what do you call la persona que narra?
Lizzie: Es el narrador o narradora.
Allan: That’s it. And this means “narrator”. Notice that there are both masculine and feminine endings for these.
Lizzie: narrador masculine and narradora feminine.
Allan: And in the plural?
Lizzie: There is just one form narradores narrators.
Allan: And following the same line of questioning, let’s think about the word lectura
Lizzie: Reading.
Allan: And how do we describe the act of reading?
Lizzie: Es el acto de leer.
Allan: So, we know by now that leer means “to read” right? But what do you call la persona que leer?
Lizzie: seria el lector o lectora
Allan: And to bring this full circle, what’s the plural?
Lizzie: Again, just one form. lectores Readers.
Allan: Great. All right. So Lizzie, in today’s lesson we’ve been talking about the works of Mario Vargas Llosa. Now, his work is known for being more than a little hard to understand at least that’s a criticism. What do you think about that?
Lizzie: Es cuestión de leerlo con atención y cuando lo haces le vas agarrando el gustito.
Allan: That’s right. Maybe just you’ve got to get used to him. Anyway, I love him. Lizzie, I’ve got a wonderful anecdote about Mario Vargas Llosa that a lot of people probably don’t know.
Lizzie: Ay porfavor no puedes dejar de contarlono.
Allan: You know, when I first came to Peru I did a lot of English teaching and one of my students in fact was an ex-minister of the Economy and at that time he was president of the Central Bank. Anyway, he had spent a couple of years in his youth as friends with Mario Vargas Llosa, I mean just when they were 18-19 years old and he told me that one night with Mario Vargas Llosa they burnt a bunch of Mario Vargas Llosa’s poetry and now was the night that Mario Vargas Llosa decided not to write poetry. He thought: “I’m not good at this, I’m embarrassed about all these poems, I’m going to burn them”. And so the fellow that I was teaching at that time was there with him. Isn’t that a fantastic, fantastic story?
Lizzie: Yes, definitely. Ya llegó el momento super esperado.
Allan: la gramática
Lizzie: la gramática

Lesson focus

Allan: Today’s topic - impersonal statements. This, guys, is a topic that I’m sure you’re going to be interested in since it’s so common in everyday Spanish.
Lizzie: Let’s start by looking at the conversation.
Allan: Ok. Go for it.
Lizzie: José está describiendo una de las técnicas de Vargas Llosa cuando dice: no se sabe quien és el narrador.
Allan: And what’s the verb of this impersonal statement?
Lizzie: se sabe
Allan: Ok. And just to make sure we really understand what’s going on here, what’s the person and number of this verb?
Lizzie: It’s a third person singular.
Allan: Alright. So, that describes the word sabe. But what about this little two-letter word se?
Lizzie: Well, some call it an indefinite subject pronoun.
Allan: Not sure how much that helps us out, but let’s think about it this way. When we form an impersonal statement, we always use this word se before a verb conjugated to the third person singular and we have to remember that the subject is unknown or generalized. So in today’s conversation when Jose says no se sabe it’s like saying “one doesn’t know”.
Lizzie: One?
Allan: Right. Or again uno no sabe. It’s the same as no se sabe
Lizzie: Ah, I see.
Allan: Aha. So here’s another way to think about it. Let’s say we were about to go out and I noticed it’s a little stain on my shirt but it’s too late to change.
Lizzie: Ok.
Allan: I’ll ask you. como me veo? How do I look?
Lizzie: All right.
Allan: But I’m concerned about this stain so I ask: ¿Se nota la mancha?. And this literally means “Does one notice the stain?” Man, it sounds so funny when we translate it literally.
Lizzie: How would you really say this in English?
Allan: Well, here is one approach. To ask se nota la mancha. I would probably say “Do ya notice the stain?” but notice that if I’m removing the emphasis from the word “you” by saying “ya” –“Do ya notice the stain?” This is because I am not only asking if you notice it but if it’s noticeable in general.
Lizzie: Wow.
Allan: We’re talking about new answers and the same goes for the answer. Let’s say that it’s not noticeable. How might you respond?
Lizzie: I could say: no se nota.
Allan: Exactly. Now, if I were to say this in English I might say something like “You can’t notice it”. Again, removing the emphasis from the word “you” by saying “ya”, “Ya can’t notice it”. no se nota However, remember that the real meaning behind this expression is “One doesn’t notice it”.
Lizzie: Muy interesante Allan siento que he aprendido mucho.
Allan: Esperamos que los estudiantes compartan ese sentimiento. Pero antes de terminar tengo una pregunta más.
Lizzie: A ver, cuentame.
Allan: La lección pasada hablamos de la obra de Gabriel García Márquez y hoy de la obra de Mario Vargas Llosa…
Lizzie: Si?
Allan: bueno Lizzie ¿cúal te gusta más?
Lizzie: Ah, let me think… Mario Vargas Llosa, no cabe duda. Somos fanaticos de Mario Vargas Llosa. There is no doubt about it.
Allan: There is a big surprise that we are super fans in Peru of Mario Vargas Llosa and we all hope that he’s going to win the Nobel Prize for Literature one day. So, vote early, vote often Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Prize for Literature. Mario Vargas Llosa.
Lizzie: Mario Vargas Llosa.


Allan: Ok, guys, that about wraps it up for today.
Lizzie: Como siempre, maestro ha sido un gustazo.
Allan: Gracias Lizzie.
Lizzie: Ok, guys, that’s all for today and remember: the best is yet to come.
Allan: That’s a beautiful sentiment. So, guys, study hard, it will be worth it. Take care. Chao
Lizzie: Chao


Spanish Grammar Made Easy - Unlock This Lesson’s Grammar Guide

Easily master this lesson’s grammar points with in-depth explanations and examples. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Dialogue - Bilingual