HomeQ&AAgua posing as a male

Agua posing as a male

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I read an old proverb yesterday.

El vino tiene dos males: si le echáis agua, echáislo a perder; si no lo echáis, pierde a vos.

I understand what it means (Wine has two flaws: if you add water to it, you ruin it; if you don't add water, it ruins you), but what I don't understand is why the second lo is not la. That is, the first lo, in echáislo, refers to el vino, but doesn't the second one refer to agua?

I'm confused.

2168 views
updated AGO 27, 2008
posted by 00bacfba

6 Answers

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Thanks for the help. It's comforting to know that the grammar wasn't obvious to you, either.

Could there be a typo on the quote? I think it is from "El criticón" (Baltasar Gracián).

A typo is certainly possible, but it's from a 1964 book of various Spanish writings, mostly older ones.

updated AGO 27, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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I have to admit that I don't know this old saying, and I think that your interpretation is the one that makes most sense, but like you, I cannot make full sense of its structure, because I'd expect something like:

Si le echáis agua, lo echáis a perder; si no se la echáis, os echa él a perder a vos.

It was that "lo" what made make consider an alternative explanation, but yours makes more sense... like the "la" in it.

Could there be a typo on the quote? I think it is from "El criticón" (Baltasar Gracián).

updated AGO 27, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
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The imperative is not being used here: enclitic pronouns were normal in Spanish over four centuries ago in present, imperfect and other tenses. "Echáisle" actually means "le echáis".

Ah, the light bulb is starting to glow now.

So, would it be correct to rewrite it as follows?

El vino tiene dos males: si le echas agua, lo echas a perder; si no se la echas, pierde a ti.

I have a feeling I'm still missing something, and I'd still like to see your translation.

Remember that "vosotros os lo perdéis" ("pierde a vos") also means "you miss (your chance to drink) it".

But does that make sense in this context? To me the proverb is better with "you ruin it/it ruins you," because that is funny and true at the same time.

updated AGO 27, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
0
votes

(Look at my latest version: I updated it while you wrote your answer).

The imperative is not being used here: enclitic pronouns were normal in Spanish over four centuries ago in present, imperfect and other tenses. "Echáisle" actually means "le echáis".

updated AGO 27, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
0
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lazarus1907 said:

I think that the second verb doesn't mean "pour water into the wine", where the wine would be the direct object, and the container the indirect one, but "to pour it somewhere", where "the wine" would be the direct object, and where it is poured would be an optional locative complement.

How would you translate this? Is my English version correct? (It makes perfect sense, at least.)

I guess I'm also confused about why the imperative is being used here.

updated AGO 27, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
0
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I think that the second verb doesn't mean "pour water into the wine" (where the wine would be the direct object, and wine the indirect one), but "to pour it somewhere", where "the wine" would be the direct object, and where it is poured would be an optional locative complement. In other words: this sentence was written by an alcoholic, hehe.

Remember that "vosotros os lo perdéis" ("pierde a vos") also means "you miss (your chance to drink) it".

The alternative to this interpretation would suggest that they didn't make "loísmo" on the first part of the sentence, but they actually made that silly mistake by the end of the second. Very unlikely. But the Spanish is at least 300 years old (I guess), so anything is possible.

updated AGO 27, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
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