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1 Vote

Is this ambiguous? Can it where both 'where are you from?' and 'where are you coming from?' i.e. 'where have you travelled from today?'.

I am thinking that is does mean both...

Furthermore, there seems no way of knowing what is meant by the question in a travelling situation as the questioner might well be asking from where you are travelling or as to your country of origin...

  • Posted Jan 4, 2011
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5 Answers

2 Vote

The context normally is enough to determine the correct meaning. If you meet someone for the first time and you ask that question, you are probably asking for the country of origin, and not this person was an hour ago, before she came here. On the other hand, if someone you know turns up, surely you are not asking what is her nationality.

For nationalities I tend to ask "¿De dónde eres?", which is unambiguous.

Besides, if you analyse any language, without context and common sense, the number of ambiguities would be overwhelming and it wouldn't allow us to communicate effectively.

  • That still leaves me awondering as to what the taxi driver is asking me :-) - afowen Jan 4, 2011 flag
2 Vote

That still leaves me awondering as to what the taxi driver is asking me grin - afowen

If I go to another country and a taxi driver asks me that, I'd reckon he is asking me what country do I come from, with 99% certainty. Why would a taxi driver assume that I just came from another nearby location right before taking the taxi? Why should I? Maybe I was sitting in a coffee shop before taking the taxi. And even if I came from, say, my hotel, which is a few blocks away from here, why would the taxi driver be interested in such information?

  • I could have been more clear. I travel a lot and take taxis from bus stations and airports. I think that the context I gave, albeit rare, is one whereby you can not deduce from context what the questioner might be asking... - afowen Jan 4, 2011 flag
  • ... I was just musing and wanted to see if there might be any subtleties that I have missed, not fully understanding the language... - afowen Jan 4, 2011 flag
1 Vote

Afowen, he was probably just trying to discover your country of origen, especially if you were speaking Spanish to him. I have discovered from experience that they want to know if you are English, American or from some other country so that they can place the accent and pronounciation in their mind/thinking. There are of course limitations to this way of thinking as many people (myself included) were born somewhere different from where they live now.

Just a few thoughts I accept I could be wrong but then I could also be right ;-P smile grin

0 Vote

A different approach:

If, on taking a taxi from an airport of bus station, a taxi driver wants to know where I might have been, would he likely say:

'De donde viene?

Or more likely:

Where have you been?

Have you been anywhere nice?

If one of the latter or similar then I might conclude that 'De donde viene?' enquires as to my country of origin.

At the moment I ask them to clarify what they mean...

0 Vote

Seems there is no way of knowing...

I got in a taxi at the bus station. After a few minutes of chat the driver asked me 'de donde viene'. Secure in my getting it rightness I replied 'del País de Gales'. 'No, I mean where have you been in Colombia' says the taxista, 'have you been on holiday?'

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