Any native Spanish speakers about?

By Etaoin Shrdlu, in 'Other Languages', Nov 27, 2017.

  1. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    For many years, there was a sign in NYC subway cars that read:

    La vía del tren subterráneo es peligrosa. Si el tren se para entre las estaciones quédese adentro. No salga afuera. Siga las instrucciones de los operadores del tren o la policía.

    This was a translation of the English:

    Subway tracks are dangerous. If the train stops in between stations stay inside. Do not get out. Follow the instructions of train crews or police.

    I had a Spanish teacher from Cuba, who found it funny, because she said it sounded unnatural. It wasn't grammatically wrong, just completely unidiomatic. She wouldn't tell me exactly why, though. Can anyone do better?
    Last edited by Etaoin Shrdlu, Nov 28, 2017
  2. rothbard Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    London
    I asked my wife, who was born in Mexico. She said it wasn't incorrect but did sound a bit unnatural, like a literal translation from the English.
  3. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    So what might a real Spanish speaker say?
  4. rothbard Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    London
    She said it sounded too wordy, e.g. that a Spanish sign would usually just say "Peligro!" instead of "La vía del tren subterráneo es peligrosa".
    Etaoin Shrdlu likes this.
  5. leonhartu Member

    I think "no salga afuera" here is more strange than "La vía del tren subterráneo es peligrosa", "no salga afuera" to me looks like pleonasm, "do not get out to the outside". I'm not a native speaker but I had some classes and in portuguese we have the same pleonasm "sair pra fora".
  6. Domine Member

    Location:
    Claremont, CA.

    There is no right or wrong way. Spanish like English has many versions -- it's all dependent on the speaker, his native homeland. With that being said, the translation from English to Spanish seems to be a literal one. At least for me, a more natural way of saying this (Mexican version) would be the following:

    "Las vías del tren [subterráneo] son peligrosas. Si el tren se pararía, quédese adentro. No salga afuera! Siga las reglas de los operadores del tren o de la policía."
    Etaoin Shrdlu likes this.
  7. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    The odd thing is that it's not literal right at the start -- using the singular where you used the plural. I have no idea why, but translators do that sort of thing. I'm guessing that the singular in Spanish sounds not unlike 'the subway track is dangerous' would do in English -- comprehensible, but a bit stilted or pompous, depending on taste.
    Domine likes this.
  8. Domine Member

    Location:
    Claremont, CA.
    Slightly more pompous but wordy would be saying:

    La vía férrea del tren subterráneo es peligrosa.

    Saying, "las vías de tren" comes out much easier than vía férrea/ferrocarril. I've used ferrocarril and vía férrea before but these are learned words WHEREAS my parents always say vías del tren. There are times I'll say, Ten cuídado! Estamos acercándonos al ferrocarril. I have to twirl my "rr" twice but it ends the sentence quickly rather than adding extra words and articles with "las vías del tren". When I do use/say learned words in Spanish I have a tendency to use them with people who are foreigners, or strangers.
  9. Seraphinus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Hi, I'm a native Spanish speaker (from El Salvador). I agree the sentence sounds wordy and too literally translated from English.

    Regarding the use of singular vía, it doesn't sound stilted to me, if it's for a sign at least. Vías and vía sound equally formal to me. In spoken Spanish we usually use the word rieles instead.

    A lot of Spanish speakers do take issue with the expression salir afuera in general seeing it as a pleonasm ("to go out to the outside", as leonhartu said), even though it is indeed commonly used in the language.

    Personally, if I had been the translator, I would've gone for:
    La vía del tren es peligrosa. Si el tren se para entre las estaciones, quédese dentro. No salga. Siga las indicaciones de los operadores o de la policía.
    Si el tren se pararía is not correct though (or at least it is very dialectal or informal, and not something you'd put on a public sign). The conditional tense is not used in protases (a protasis is a part of a sentence that begins with si and tells you only a condition, not the consequence).
  10. Domine Member

    Location:
    Claremont, CA.

    I knew it sounded a bit off but I've heard people use the conditional in such fashion. I should have used the subjective "parara/parase" instead of the conditional.
  11. Mafalda Member

    Location:
    Paulopolis
    The best way is to establish what circumstances exactly the warning us intended for and use the corresponding warning issued in Spain or Argentine etc., as this translation from English will not do. Nor is the English warning a work of a genius. Describing the tracks as being dangerous is not needed in this context altogether. You cannot say Do not get out and right after that Follow the instructions of someone or other, because what if they instruct you to get out? On the whole this is not how warnings are supposed to be written. As it is (that is not knowing the exact circumstances) I would say Cuidado con las vías. Al pararse el tren entre las estaciones no intenten salir. Esperen las instrucciones de las autoridades. (Cuidado con las vías being the part which in my understanding is not needed here, actually.)
    Last edited by Mafalda, Jan 1, 2018
    Domine likes this.
  12. Domine Member

    Location:
    Claremont, CA.

    Indeed. It's one of those things that as a bilingual speaker I have to remember -- i.e., one thing sounds nice and cogent in one language, yet unnecessary/wordy in another.

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