When?

| November 30, 2009 10:49 am

Though you wouldn’t know it by the long gaps between our picture and blog posts, we’ve been traveling around Colombia for more than 40 days now… actually, perhaps the long delays should be a clue as to our location and duration of time spent here. Because, as we’ve learned, Colombians are never in a hurry to be on time for anything (not unlike Bolivians but that’s another story) and have even warped the Spanish language to fit their odd sense of timing. When you ask a Colombian when something will happen or when they will do something, you’re likely to get one of the following short answers. But don’t think that you know the answer even if you’re a fluent Spanish speaker, because it’s different out here.  Here’s how it works:

Response to             meaning in
question “when”      normal Spanish        meaning in Colombia

ahora ……………………. right now ………………. later (but probably not too much later, maybe 30 min to 1 hr)

ahorita …………………. soon ……………………… at some undetermined point in the future, from 5 minutes to
………………………………………………………………. 5 years (the worst response you could get)

ya …………………………. already (i.e. it’s …….. right now (about to be done even though it hasn’t been yet)
………………………………. already happened)

despues ………………. later ………………………. never

nunca …………………… never …………………….. ??? (theoretical; word has not been uttered in Colombia)

Now that we’ve figured out the system, all that remains is to ask Colombians the one question really on our minds these days: “When will you finish the hundreds of concurrent highway repair projects so that we can finally cruise around your beautiful country in comfort without further abusing our car?”

One Response to “When?”

Dinko wrote a comment on November 30, 2009

Man, this is so funny. “Ahorita” reminds me of “soonish”. Also, “un momentito” is a funny expression.

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