No dejan de ser fascinantes

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Malbecblend

Senior Member
English (United States)
I'm reading an article called "Vendedores ambulantes." In one paragraph, the article describes how some of them put out all of their merchandise on a single piece of fabric that can, when the police approach, be pulled up by its 4 corners and instantly turned into a big bag. The street peddlers then run off with their bags, only to return once the police have left. In this paragraph the article further explains the system these peddlers use to alert themselves to the arrival of police officers. The first sentence of the paragraph that immediately follows is this:

Existen dos aspectos de los ambulantes que no dejan de ser fascinantes.


What follows is a description of those things, one essentially being the diversity of the products.

Okay, so in this context, what is "que no dejan de ser fascinantes"? I can guess that it means "that are fascinating," Que son fascinantes. But I suspect it has a more nuanced meaning.

Thanks in advance.
 
  • Agró

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Navarre
    Okay, so in this context, what is "que no dejan de ser fascinantes"? I can guess that it means "that are fascinating,":tick: Que son fascinantes:tick:. But I suspect it has a more nuanced meaning.
    No dejar de ser X = Ser X, in spite of what it would look like/what one might think.
     

    Malbecblend

    Senior Member
    English (United States)
    No dejar de ser X = Ser X, in spite of what it would look like/what one might think.
    Thank you. I will try to remember this. It's not the first time that I've come across this No dejar de ser X construction and been confused.
    One follow up question: why, in the sentence I presented, is it dejan rather than deja. Is dejan referring to aspectos or los ambulantes?
     

    harry1207

    Member
    English
    Thank you. I will try to remember this. It's not the first time that I've come across this No dejar de ser X construction and been confused.
    One follow up question: why, in the sentence I presented, is it dejan rather than deja. Is dejan referring to aspectos or los ambulantes?
    “Dejan” is referring to the aspects “aspectos” so plural
     

    User With No Name

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Also, note in general, "dejar de + infinitive" means "to stop doing something." So literally, this is "the aspects don't stop being fascinating" (despite what one might expect).
     

    sarah_

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Madrid (Spain)
    DLE
    no dejar de
    1. expr. Seguida de un infinitivo, se usa para afirmar de una manera atenuada o irónica lo expresado por él.
    Eso no deja de tener gracia.
     

    Malbecblend

    Senior Member
    English (United States)
    DLE
    no dejar de
    1. expr. Seguida de un infinitivo, se usa para afirmar de una manera atenuada o irónica lo expresado por él.
    Eso no deja de tener gracia.
    Eso no deja de tener gracia = Still, that's funny; That's still funny; Even so, that's funny; Despite what one thinks, that's funny.
    Right?
     

    Cerros de Úbeda

    Senior Member
    UK
    Spanish - Spain (Galicia)
    Eso no deja de tener gracia = Still, that's funny; That's still funny; Even so, that's funny; Despite what one thinks, that's funny.
    Right?
    Not very convinced... Would depend n context, to decide whether they work, and which one to choose.

    The best one, to me, is the first one, as it's the one with the most ironic tone.


    I think this expression has three different uses. The one explained by the DLE is just one of them.

    1/ Phrasal Verb
    One is the 'perífrasis' (phrasal verb) 'no dejar de + inf', used in a literal way. This is often used with a connotation of annoyance, or frustration. It means 'don't stop + ger', or 'to keep + ger'. For example:

    "No dejes de empujar, o se saldrá la válvula antes de que se fije."

    "¿Quieres dejar de hacer ruido? Estoy tratando de estudiar, y no dejas de gritar y molestarme."
    - Will you stop making noises? I am trying to study,, but you keep shouting and disturbing me.


    2/ Figurative Use
    Another possibility is the figurative use of the phrasal verb just explained.

    This is an emphazing, rethorical use of the expression.

    'Es una fuente de inspiración, la variedad de colores de este paisaje. No deja de sorprenderme.'
    - It is a source of inspiration, the multitude of colours in this landscape. It doesn't stop surprising me.


    3/ Moderator/Emphasizer
    Then, there is a third sense, which is colloquial way of using it. This is the meaning mentioned by the RAE. It is a moderator; a way of saying something in a roundabout way, avoiding saying it straightaway, so, moderating its strength.

    But it is also an ironic use, that states the opposite of what it seems to say. So, in fact, it works as an emphasiser, rather than as a moderator, in my view.

    Note that it is a double negative, so in fact the negative senses cancell each other, and it becomes an affirmative. This way, it works like an emphasizer - albeit a self-effacing one.

    I would translate it into English as 'to be indeed + adj', or 'don't stop + ger' - or 'keep + ger', as Montescuba did.

    - No deja de tener gracia
    - It is indeed funny that...
    (It is very / really funny that...)
    (It is worth commenting that...)

    This is the use in the OP's example. It is also a rethorical use of the expression, very common in journalism:

    - Existen dos aspectos de los ambulantes que no dejan de ser fascinantes.
    - There are two facets of the vendors that are indeed fascinating / don't stop / keep fascinating me.


    Another option: "...that never ceases to fascinate."

    I think this is the best option. It is the one that sounds most natural - at least, in the UK.


    But remember that the Spanish reference is in the plural, so the verb must be so:

    '... that don't cease to fascinate.'

    Also, as it is not an old observation, but just a recent one, a standard negative would work better than the emphatic 'never'.
     
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    Malbecblend

    Senior Member
    English (United States)
    I reviewed this thread again when trying to translate this opening sentence of an essay, entitled "Instrucciones para subir una escalera," by Julio Cortázar:

    Nadie habrá dejado de observar que con frecuencia el suelo se pliega de manera tal que una parte sube en ángulo recto con el plano del suelo, y luego la parte siguiente se coloca paralela a este plano, para dar paso a una nueva perpendicular, conducta que se repite en espiral o en linea quebrada hasta alturas sumamente variables.

    Even after reviewing all of the above posts, I'm still not sure how to translate the dejar-de-ser part of the sentence. Is this right?:
    Nobody has probably observed that frequently the ground folds up in such a way that...
     
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    Cerros de Úbeda

    Senior Member
    UK
    Spanish - Spain (Galicia)
    nadie habrá dejado de observar
    = todos habrán observado.
    I agree.

    It works as an affirmative, as it's a double negative. The two negatives here are 'nadie' and 'dejar de'.


    Eso no deja de tener gracia = Still, that's funny;
    'That is rather / quite funny.'


    when trying to translate this opening sentence of an essay, entitled "Instrucciones para subir una escalera," by Julio Cortázar:

    'Nadie habrá dejado de observar que con frecuencia el suelo se pliega de manera tal que una parte sube en ángulo recto...'

    'No one will have missed the fact that...'
    'As everyone must indeed have observed,...'
     
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    Cerros de Úbeda

    Senior Member
    UK
    Spanish - Spain (Galicia)
    You're right. I agree with you, that it doesn't work like that in general. But here, I think it does work as it would in English.
     
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    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    Nadie habrá dejado de observar que con frecuencia el suelo
    It would be remiss not to have noticed that the floor, frequently ...
    Everyone can't help but observe that the floor, frequently ...
    I can't be possibly overlooked that the floor ...
    It can hardly escape one's attention that the floor ...
     
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