[a] eso se le llama jugar sucio

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by SoundofReason, Apr 30, 2016.

  1. SoundofReason Senior Member

    Ok, so I understand this sentence, but I don't understand the grammar involved.

    The sentence is this, "Eso se le llama jugar sucio" It was in a mexican novela, and I know that it means That is called playing dirty, but why is it se LE llama and not, "Eso SE LLAMA jugar sucio? Why is the LE there?

    (Moderator edit: thread title must contain the phrase being asked about. -fenixpollo)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2016
  2. SevenDays Senior Member

    Did you perhaps miss an "a" (A eso se le llama jugar sucio)? If that's the case, "le" is to duplicate the indirect object "a eso," which we do when the indirect object appears before the verb. Then again, maybe the speaker dropped that "a" (that is, you heard the sentence correctly) thinking that "eso" is the subject of the sentence, leaving "le" as the indirect object. Hard to say, without actually seeing/hearing that Mexican novela. Strictly speaking, that "le" doesn't belong in "eso se le llama jugar sucio," as you correctly reason.
  3. SoundofReason Senior Member

    Hey, you are right, I figured that there would be an A there, he says it kinda fast and in the subtitles there is no A. So the correct way to say, "That is called...would be A eso se le llama..." right? I kinda get what you are saying.
  4. SevenDays Senior Member

    Yup, a eso se le llama = That is called (it's not surprising that the subtitles missed that "a," given that it's fast speech).
  5. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    Sec. 12.6.3 of the Butt & Benjamin grammar has the title "Preference for le/les after impersonal or reflexive se". It says:
    I think your sentence is an example of this, even though the object isn't human:
    "le" is standing in for direct object "lo" (and I will say what I think is the reason for the substitution, below).
    I think the same speaker, without the presence of "se", would use direct object "lo" with the transitive verb "llamar",
    and say "(A) eso, no quiero llamarlo jugar sucio." "Tuvieron un hijo, y lo (not "le") llamaron Jorge."
    Why the replacement with "le" when it follows "se"?
    I think the reason for this "widespread tendency" is the wish to avoid "se lo", because this sounds like the "se lo" that stands for "le lo".
    B&B Sec. 28.2.7 gives the example of "se le arrestó", "he was arrested". All would agree that "arrestar" is transitive and we could say "lo (not "le") arrestaron",
    that is, "arrestar" would normally call for the object "lo". But "se lo arrestó" could be heard as "He(1) arrested him(2) for him(3) or her".
    To insure that "se" is heard as the impersonal "se", and not the stand-in for "le", the normal "lo" is replaced by "le". Digo yo.
    More Butt & Benjamin: Sec. 28.5.1, n.1: "...hasta que se les pueda evacuar" (but "pudieron evacuarlos").

  6. Aviador

    Aviador Senior Member

    Santiago de Chile (a veces)
    Castellano de Chile
    I share your amazement. I often hear or read that overkill instead of the, for me, more natural, elegant, correct and idiomatic Eso se llama. For example, the Sólo español forum is full of that construction in posts by our native Spanish-speaking forum mates and I have often thought that maybe, for some obscure reason, that cumbersome construction sounds "more formal" or "correct" to some people, more appropriate for a language forum or formal texts in general. Or maybe those speakers are influenced by the synonymous expression A eso se le dice. I don't know.
    Well, I don't see the necessity for the impersonal construction with direct object duplication in this case, when the more concise pronominal form1 serves the purpose perfectly.
    Furthermore, it is important to note that impersonal constructions with transitive verbs that have a common noun as their direct object are not the norm in our language. Instead, the pasivas reflejas (a form of passive construction very often used in Spanish) are preferred. That is probably why A eso se le llama... sounds so awkward:
    • A Juan y a Pedro se los ve por aquí a menudo. (Impersonal construction with persons as direct object and verb in singular third person as in all impersonal const.)
    • Esas frutas se ven por aquí a menudo. (Pasiva refleja with common noun as passive subject and verb in plural third person agreeing with it)
    Now, a disclaimer :): you may find a post of mine or two containing the infamous structure "se lo llama", but they were purposely written in response to some forum member to subtlety call their attention about the leísmo in "se le llama".
    And that is the other reason why A eso se le llama... sounds ugly and incorrect to me: it contains a leísmo (the incorrect use of the dative case pronoun le instead of the accusative pronoun lo performing the job of a direct object of the verb llamar).
    A lot has been argued in these forums about this and one of the reasons given to support the use of the dative pronoun in the case of impersonales with se or pasivas reflejas is that it would avoid ambiguity (I don't mean this is your reasoning as well, Cenzontle):
    A few weeks ago, in the Sólo español forum, I wrote something about this: Se la veía por...

    So, what I find correct and idiomatic is Eso se llama jugar sucio.

    1) Some may interpret this as a pasiva refleja, which would be perfectly correct, as well as indistinguishable from a pronominal verbal use in this case.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016
  7. Doraemon- Senior Member

    "Spanish - Spain" "Catalan - Valencia"
    Hay dos formas verbales distintas de "llamar" en el sentido de dar un nombre a algo, una transitiva (cómo llama alguien a algo) y una reflexiva/pronominal (qué nombre tiene):
    -Ese señor se llama Paco (reflexivo).
    -A ese señor sus amigos le llaman Paco (transitivo).
    Cuando la forma transitiva está en impersonal (con "se") tenemos:
    -Ese se llama Paco
    -A ese se le llama Paco.

    En "Eso se llama jugar sucio", "eso" es el sujeto, y el verbo está en forma reflexiva: Eso se llama jugar sucio, yo me llamo Federico, y él se llama Antonio.
    En "A eso se le llama jugar sucio", el sujeto es el "se" impersonal (no hay sujeto real) y el verbo está en forma transitiva: A eso se le llama jugar sucio, a mí se me dice que soy guapo, y a ese se le llama feo cuando sale a la calle (o a ese le llaman feo cuando sale a la calle) .

    Eso se llama jugar sucio :tick:
    A eso se le llama jugar sucio :tick:
    Eso se le llama jugar sucio :cross:
    Last edited: May 2, 2016
  8. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    San Francisco
    American English
    The grammar has been explained, but I'll add that the meaning of the two constructions is very slightly different (although basically the same).

    Eso se llama jugar sucio = That is called playing dirty
    A eso se le llama jugar sucio = [Now] that's what you call playing dirty

    As you see, in the second one, there is an implied speaker who calls the place that way, whereas in the first the place itself is the subject.
    Last edited: May 3, 2016
  9. Milton Sand

    Milton Sand Senior Member

    Bucaramanga, Colombia
    Español (Colombia)
    As you've told already, it's «a eso se le/lo llama...». Here the grammar things:

    a. The verb here is not the pronominal «llamarse» (to have a name) but the transitive «llamar» (to give a name).
    b. The reflexive «se» particle might indicate a pasive reflexive voice (se llama = is called), BUT...
    c. It's actually an impersonal active conjugation with «se» (se llama = they/people/whoever call it).
    d. These impersonal conjugations are preferred for animate beings (a person, a loved animal, a character, a humanized object) working as D.O., and take the “personal” preposition «a» to introduce them: «se llama a eso X» (they call that X). Even if the being/character to be named is not animate (eso = that thing), this verbal expression is treating it as one.
    e. Now you need to emphasize the direct object «a eso» by placing it before the verb thus getting a nuance of «Now, that's what...!». There's a rule for it: a D.O. pronoun «le/lo» must appear despite the explicit D.O. appearing: «se llama a eso jugar sucio» is rephrased as «a eso se le/lo llama jugar sucio
    f. Some will use the anciently traditional «le» (admitted leísmo), where others will go for the strictly grammatical direct object pronouns «lo/la».

    Hope I haven't made it too complicated.

    Last edited: May 3, 2016
  10. LVRBC Senior Member

    English-US, standard and medical
    Gengo may have misread jugar as lugar. Otherwise his comment is very odd.
  11. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    San Francisco
    American English
    OMG, how stupid of me! I vaguely remember writing that post in a hurry, and thinking at the time that "dirty place" didn't make a lot of sense. I should have listened to that voice in my head. :oops:

    Thanks for catching that. I have modified my post.

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