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Old 7th August 2008, 11:59 PM   #1
altair
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Default Grammar help: se le quería

Hi all,

I'm trying to get my head around the use of pronouns in the following example:

En el pueblo no se le quería, pero se le respetaba.

Had I had to translate this from English myself, I'd have thought it would be "no lo querían", as they-from-the-village, don't like direct-object him. Is it a reflexive se and an indirect le?? Whilst that seems to look like the right grammar I can't match it to the objects in the sentence - why would you want a reflexive querer here.

A google search suggests se le quiere is used a lot so I guess I ought to understand it!

Thanks in advance,
Andrew

P.S. The quote is from El Techo by Horacio Quiroga, part of a collection of dual-language short stories that I'm reading.
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Old 8th August 2008, 06:13 AM   #2
greytop
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Try this article on using se to express the passive voice. Then it could translate as "in the village he was not wanted..."
On the other hand.....
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Old 8th August 2008, 06:00 PM   #3
altair
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Ah, so many uses of se. Thanks for the link.
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Old 8th August 2008, 09:17 PM   #4
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The se le + singular verb construction is used when forming the se pseudopassive voice with animate patients. In such cases without the le the meaning becomes ambiguous as it could be interepreted either as a passive or a reflexive construction (or even reciprocal when the verb is plural).

e.g.

se le respetaba = he was respected
se respetaba = he respected himself
se respetaban = they respected themselves / each other (depending on more context)
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Old 9th August 2008, 08:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by altair View Post

Had I had to translate this from English myself, I'd have thought it would be "no lo querían", as they-from-the-village, don't like direct-object him. Is it a reflexive se and an indirect le?? Whilst that seems to look like the right grammar I can't match it to the objects in the sentence - why would you want a reflexive querer here.
Just a couple of more points about this as I find all aspects of pronominal verb use difficult. Reflexive verbs only refer to actions that are perfomed on the person performing them –in reality pronominal verbs have 7 functions (Butt and Benjamin list 8)
The example you gave is often called ‘special construction’ which evolved to eliminate some of the ambiguities surrounding the overworked pronoun ‘se’ –and isn’t included in the link greytop left you.
It is Se+transitive verb+personal a +subject.

As Graham has said this is only necessary for live subjects.

Two Englishmen were killed if written ‘Se mataron dos ingleses’ could be ‘two Englishmen killed each other’ or ‘two Englishmen killed themselves’

Using the ‘special construction we have: ‘Se mató a dos ingleses’
It is important to note that the verb is always singular.

When the direct object is replaced by a pronoun things are complicated further as many speakers (even Latin Americans) prefer le/les to lo/la/los/las despite the fact that the direct object of the verb may be feminine

‘se le veía nerviosa ‘one could see she was nervous’
So the ‘le’ in your example is actually the direct object


Quote:
Originally Posted by gastephen View Post
The se le + singular verb construction is used when forming the se pseudopassive voice with animate patients.
Presumably inanimate patients are sent to the morgue.
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Old 9th August 2008, 09:46 PM   #6
gastephen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tad View Post
Presumably inanimate patients are sent to the morgue.
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Old 10th August 2008, 12:11 PM   #7
DerekD
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for me, this is the most difficult part of the entire spanish language. im kind of hoping it just sinks in eventually. even just reading the posts above give me a headache!
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Old 10th August 2008, 12:41 PM   #8
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I agree Derek -I'm not into heavy grammar but I have been forced into it by finding the mysteries of 'se' so confusing. Every time I come across it in a book I feel like I'm solving a cryptic crossword clue working out what it means in that instance.
The particular use above outlined by myself and Graham is mostly only detailed in advanced grammar books -in fact I have one book from the library at the moment where the authors don't seem to understand it.

I've come to the the conclusion that it is complicated -and from what I can gather, many Spanish speakers misuse some of it's aspects anyway.

There are two chapters in Butt and Benjamin and I'm hoping if I read them enough times something will click.
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Old 18th August 2008, 11:15 PM   #9
altair
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Thanks everyone. Things are becoming clearer. And I take some consolation in the fact that other people have found this tricky too.

Think I'll get a copy of the book mentioned as well, 5 stars on amazon, so sounds like it would be a good reference to have at hand.
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Old 20th August 2008, 11:13 AM   #10
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I'm with derek on this one,this is the only part of the spanish language that I cant get my head around ........ pass the asprin mate!!! hehe
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