Arrested Development #24
Context: The activist mistook his bond with Lindsay for love. He went to her room and proposed marriage. She said no. They then heard the sounds of bulldozers tearing down the tree.
Activist: That’s why you never get out of the tree!
Spanish Translation: Por eso no debía bajarme.
ISSUE #1: POR ESO
“Por eso” is a very common phrase. The words do mean “for that”. But it really means “for that reason” or “that’s the reason” or “that’s why”.
It’s used for cause and effect, but only when the “eso” or “that” is already known.
In this example, we already know the effect (the “eso”) is, the tree gets torn down. Then the activist decides, the cause of that, was him “getting down” from the tree.
= For that...
= For that reason...
= That’s why...
ISSUE #2: POR VS. PARA
Remember, “para” is an arrow and “por” is the “go-between”.
Do you mean “between” like BETWEEN the “cause” of something and the “effect” of something?
Yes! Exactly like that! Good job!
Cause: activist gets down from the tree
In the middle: por eso (the “go-between”)
Effect: tree gets torn down
ISSUE #3: DEBER
This is a case where they simply changed the wording of the sentence: “That’s why you never...” to “That’s why I shouldn’t have...” -- “Por eso no debía...”
There's no "should" in English, but there is "deber" in Spanish, which is best translated to "should" in this context.
The change doesn’t affect the meaning or vibe of the sentence.
Por eso no debía...
= That’s why I shouldn’t have...
= That’s why you never...
ISSUE #4: PRETERITE VS. IMPERFECT
The imperfect tense is used to express HOW THINGS WERE. Then the preterite tense is used to express WHAT HAPPENED.
This isn’t the clearest or easiest example (which makes it a good example) but it’s not the hardest either.
...I shouldn't have...
= ...no debía...
“Debía” is an imperfect tense conjugation of “deber” (it means “should” in this context).
They used the imperfect tense because the activist is basically saying, “from the time I climbed up that tree until whenever it was officially saved, I shouldn’t have gotten down”.
The fact that he shouldn’t have gotten down from the tree is HOW THINGS WERE (imperfect). Then when he DID get down, that’s WHAT HAPPENED (preterite).
I’m not saying “bajar” here is in the preterite tense. Definitely not. There are sentences out there with just the preterite tense, just the imperfect tense or both together. But in every sentence with one, the other is either implied or can be made up to get context or perspective.
Like when we don’t know if “I” or “me” is correct in English! We can add or take off some words to get the context. It usually makes things clearer, thus easier to say the correct way.
Is it “you and I go to the store”? Or “you and me go to the store”? Hmmm. To make our decision, let’s see how each of these sentences feel:
I go to the store - feels good!
Me go to the store - feels bad!
Since “I got to the store” is the clear winner, “you and I go to the store” is correct, not “you and me go to the store”.
Why is it “debía”? The imperfect tense, not the preterite tense? The activist IS talking about getting down, which seems like “what happened”.
To get perspective, we can either look for implied context or just make it up--whatever we have to do to get a fuller sentence, for perspective.
When you think about it, a sentence like “I shouldn’t have gotten down”--whenever you shouldn’t have done something--that means you already did it!
So whatever you did--THAT’S “what happened”! And all the time up to that point is when you shouldn’t have done it -- THAT’S “how things were”.
Cool, right? This just dawned on me while writing this.
ISSUE #5: REFLEXIVE VERBS
“Bajar” is used as “get out of” or even better, “get down from” the tree. But with the “me” added to the end, “bajarme” means “to lower ONESELF”.
In Spanish, they use reflexive verbs a lot more than we do in English, like in this example. A verb is reflexive when the subject does the action to himself, or “to oneself”. In fact, that’s how you know a verb is reflexive in English -- when it has “to myself” or “to herself” added to it.
In Spanish, they just use the pronoun system they already have set up (with a minor change). “I lower you” would be “te bajo”. Then “I lower me” is “me bajo” which is the same as “I lower myself”. So “I lower myself” or “I get myself down” is “me bajo”.
But in this example, “bajar” follows another verb, “deber”. And usually, when there are two verbs in a row, you conjugate the first one and leave the second one in its infinitive form.
And when there are two verbs in a row with a pronoun, the pronoun can go before both verbs, or get added to the end of the second verb, which is my preferred placement, and what they chose in this example as well.
...no debía BAJARME
= I shouldn’t have LOWERED ME
= I shouldn’t have LOWERED MYSELF
ALL TOGETHER NOW
Por eso no debía bajarme
= For that I shouldn’t have lowered myself
= That’s why I shouldn’t have gotten down
= That’s why you never get out of the tree