going tonto

Scott Sadowsky lists at SPANISHTRANSLATOR.ORG
Sun May 19 00:46:44 UTC 2002

On 5/18/2002 17:34, Douglas G. Wilson wrote the following:

>>This is just a translation of Spanish HACER EL TONTO = 'act the fool; act
>>like a clown'
>I am doubtful.
>It is my casual impression that in its usual application the meaning of
>"hacer el tonto" in Spanish is quite distinct from that of English "go
>nuts"/"go berserk" which I think is the intended sense here.

You're right.  "Hacerse el tonto" ('hacer' is reflexive in this case, hence
the -se) means "to play dumb", "to play stupid", "to feign ignorance". It's
typically used when a speaker believes his interlocutor is holding back the
truth, in an attempt to coax or bully it out of him.  It has nothing to do
with acting like a clown.¹

>The typical user of expressions such as "majorly", "go tonto" does not
>speak foreign languages ... perhaps can hardly manage his domestic one ....

Such harshness!


¹ Standard Spanish disclaimer: Spanish is an immensely diverse language,
and its dialects are not always mutually intelligible, much less do they
constitute a single, unified language, as the Spanish Royal Academy would
have people believe. I only speak definitively of and vouch for Chilean usage.

Scott Sadowsky  --  Spanish-English / English-Spanish Translator

sadowsky at spanishtranslator.org · sadowsky at bigfoot.com
Ask about my per-root rates for Proto Indo-European -> Tocharian B
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