Pues sí­ tú, Manolo!

Pue-sí­-tú Sign

Pues, what better way to explain one of the most confusing word-expressions in the Spanish language than to tell you about Manolo, alias El toronteco?

Pues, El toronteco (from Toronto), alias Manolo, was the famous commenter that began each comment with ‘Pues‘ before he decided to finally open up his own space, pues. Pues, like I was saying, Manolo use pues as his diving board into intelligent comments and to share his opinion, pues. If for any reason he was not able to put his name down, his initial pues-and-comma took the place of his name to fully identify the following words as his statement. Pues became his denomination of origin, pues. Va pues, I said to myself, I know where you are coming from now. Pues, when he finally opened the door to a room of his own, I thought his blog was going to be called Pues. Pues no, he hanged ‘El Toronteco‘ at the entrance door. Pues, however, was the main idea of his first paragraph.

Pues, as you can see, pues is one the most often used words in Guatemalan Spanish and often can mean many things according to the other words it dances with and the intonation of the speaker. I believe Francisco Goldman try to tackle some of its meaning in the following fragment of The Long Night of White Chickens, which Manolo shared with me and now I share with you:

“‘Pues sí­’ he said, lightly… which somehow means the opposite of ‘sí­ pues’ though both mean ‘well yes’ and both can mean ‘Yes, well…’ But si pues is more affirmative, that’s right! of course! or it’s fatalistic, as in no kidding or you said it, and with a question mark it’s Am I right or what? But ‘Pues sí­” is softer and has a short up-down melody, it’s an open-ended and ambiguous punctuation: Well yes, and that’s the least of it but just beginning too, it being Guatemala after all, which after all, doesn’t even exist. (-and with a question mark it’s a flirtatious little chirp, ‘Pues sí­? mi amor?’)” p.238-9

Source: The Long Night of White Chickens (1999, The Atlantic Monthly Press, NY) by Francisco Goldman (The greatest American novelist of our generation, according to Junot Dí­az)

Claro pues, there are many more variations, but I think this is a good start.

Are you going to tell us the story of the Pue-sí­-tú sign, pues? Sí­ pues. The owner of this multi-branch cotton clothing store in La Antigua Guatemala found the Pues sí­ expression enchanting as she was taking Spanish classes. Pues, when the time came to open her first cotton-clothing store, she decided that the playful Pue-sí­ (contracted Pues sí­) was a memorable choice. Success brought forward a dilemma when she was about to open its second store… yet she resolved it quite nicely with Pue-sí­-tú (tú is pronounced like two; you get it?!). Well yes you, that’s the story behind today’s sign.

I will post a second entry about ‘Pues’ with all the variations of the word you guys will share with me in the comments. Va pues!

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