Posted by: janecronin | August 19, 2018

Mirar


This week’s verb is a good, solid everyday one.    “Mirar” is wonderfully regular in all its forms and only means one thing – “to look”.  How tricky translation is sometimes, because “to look” means two different things in English, and “mirar” is the translation of only one of them.  We perform the action of looking at something, using our eyes – that is what “mirar” means.  What it doesn’t mean is “to look” as in the sentence “you look tired” or “that looks interesting”.  In this case, we are not talking about something we do with our eyes; we are referring to the appearance of something, or someone.  In Spanish this is usually expressed with the verb “parecer” (to appear).  So “you look tired” is “pareces cansado” and “that looks interesting” would be “eso parece interesante”.   It all comes down to thinking about what we really mean, rather than simply transposing words from one language to another.

“Mirar” has to be one of the first words a small child picks up, and you only have to be in the presence of Spanish children for a short time before you hear “¡Mamá, mírame!” (Mummy, look at me!) usually shouted whilst hanging upside down from a metal bar two metres of the ground.   Remember of course that it doesn´t sound how you possibly hear it in your head, with a clipped, short “i” sound.  As you know the Spanish “i” is a longer vowel, somewhat close to our “ee” as in “cheese”.  Somehow, this is particularly noticeable when “mírame” is being screamed out at full volume.

There are a few words that derive from this simple verb.  One of these is “mirador” which means a “viewpoint”, as in a panoramic viewpoint.  Literally of course, it means a place to look from, with the obvious implication that you will be looking at something nice.   “Mirada” is another derivative which means “look” in the sense of “facial expression”.

Now let’s look at some typical phrases using “mirar”.  We have “mirar por encima” which means to look over something superficially.  “¿Has leído el artículo?”  (Have you read the article?) “Lo he mirado por encima” (I’ve had a quick glance through it).   “Mirar de reojo” means to give a sidelong glance, or as we sometimes say, to look out of the corner of our eye.  “Cuando entré en la habitación me miró de reojo” (When I came into the room, he (or she) glanced at me out of the corner of his (or her) eye.  That sounds very clumsy in English, but you know what I mean.  Finally, a curious difference between Spanish and English cultures: in Spanish there is no word for “to stare” so we have to say “mirar fijamente”.   As a child I was told off for staring, as though it were some terrible social faux pas, whereas many Spanish people are quite happy to have a good long look at someone if they want to.

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