Spanish4Lawyers- “Por qué” vs “Porque”.

Here is something that you might find interesting- there are two words in Spanish that look almost identical and sound nearly the same.   The only the difference is the one ends in a question mark and the other ends as an answer.

Porque” is “because“,  “Por qué” is “why“.  Separating the first and second syllables leave a mystery that is the question “why”.  When you put them together, you get the answer “because”.

Both sound alike.  The first syllable sounds like the word “poor” as in “I don’t have money, I am poor.”  The second syllable sounds like the “k” in “I am ok.

Copyright, 2013,  Jeff Scholnick, Esq., and Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Scholnick, P.A.  All rights reserved.

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Spanish4Lawyers- I need you to bring in cash to replace the check that bounced all over town- Part 2

This is a blog to help attorneys learn Spanish so that they can better communicate with their Spanish speaking clients.  The hope is this will lead to enhanced client service and, ultimately, equal access to the Court system.  However, there are some practical sentences that we can learn so that we get paid.  That may not enhance our service to our clients, but it sure enhances our ability to make the month’s rent.  With this in mind, lets finish up the sentence that we started in  our last blog entry:

“I need you to bring in cash for my fee because your check did not have sufficient funds.”

In Spanish:  “Necesito que usted traiga efectivo para mi cobro porque su cheque no tenia fondos.”

When we last left off in this tale of economic dilemma for our poor private attorney, we stopped at the word “cobro” which means “fee”.  Now, we must tell our client why we are cracking the whip and insisting on cash- “because your check did not have sufficient funds.”
Let’s perform our usual dissection of the translation.  We begin with the word “porque” which means “because”.  This is actually a very interesting word- if you divide it into two words and ask it as a question, it becomes “por que?” which means “why?”  So, the next time your teenage son looks at you with contempt and questions your very existence with a contemptuous “why?”, you can look him right in the eye and say “porque” and know that you just threw his own word back at him.  This may not advance the dialogue with your son, but, in some minimalist manner,  it may give you some short term satisfaction.
Now, let’s get back to our sentence.  “Su” means “your”.  “Cheque” is the same in English.  “No tenia” means “did not have”.   “Tenia” is from the root “tener” which is “to have”.  “Fondos” is “funds”.
Profesora Lucy, por favor, please deliver the ultimatum:

Your check bounced

Copyright, 2012, Jeff Scholnick, Esq, and Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Scholnick, P.A.  All rights reserved.




Spanish4Lawyers- Why can’t you work in a sit down job?

This is a blog dedicated to helping attorneys communicate with their Spanish speaking clients.  In the last few posts, we have been reviewing questions that a Social Security Judge might ask your client at a hearing.  Another question that the Judge might ask is “Why can’t you work in a job where you sit all day?”

In Spanish: “Por qué no puede trabajar en un trabajo en el cuál se sienta todo el día?”

Let’s break this question down.  “Por qué” is “why”, although  “porque” (sounding the same) means “because”.  To pronounce “por qué” think of saying the number 4, with a “P” replacing the “f”.  The “qué” is pronounced like the letter “k”.

“No puede” means “cannot”.  “Trabajar” means “to work”. (As mentioned in a couple of previous posts, because this verb follows a conjugated verb, here “puede”, you leave the “trabajar” in the infinitive root).   “Un trabajo” is “a job”.  (Note the difference- the verb  “to work” is “trabajar”, ending in the “ar”, while the noun “job” ends in the “o”.) “En” is “in”.   “Cuál” is “which”.

“Se sienta” means sit down, referring to you/he/she.   This comes from the verb “sentarse’ which means “to sit down” or “seat oneself”. “Todo el dia” means “all day”  (“todo” is “all”).

Now we can listen to Lucy ask the question in Spanish:

Can U do sit down work?

Below are a couple of unusual sit down jobs.  I always knew that there was a man inside an ATM machine, but I always figured him to be smaller.  I did not know that there was a woman inside my washing machine- how come I can’t get her to clean out that lint?

Copyright, 2012, Jeff Scholnick, Esq, and Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Scholnick, P.A.  All rights reserved.


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