he had about five hundred routines he liked to lay on me

WizardDani

Senior Member
Español, USA English
Hello guys,

I'm translating from English to Spanish an excerpt of Ysrael, a short story from Junot Díaz's book Drown. I am struggling translating the following sentence since I have no idea what the author is referring to:

"I didn't mind these summers, wouldn't forget them the way Rafa would. Back home in the Capital, Rafa had his own friends, a bunch of tigueres who liked to knock down our neighbors and who scrawled chocha and toto on walls and curbs. Back in the Capital he rarely said anything to me except Shut up, pendejo. Unless, of course, he was mad and then he had about five hundred routines he liked to lay on me. Most of them had to do with my complexion, my hair, the size of my lips. It's the Haitian, he'd say to his buddies. Hey Señor Haitian, Mami found you on the border and only took you in because she felt sorry for you."

So basically this is a Dominican immigrant telling how different things were with his brother (Rafa) when living in Santo Domingo compared to now that they are living in the USA. He's describing his brother's negative attitude towards him.

What exactly does the author wants to convey when saying: "he had about five hundred routines he liked to lay on me"? Does it mean insults or "bullying" in any way?

We have so far —poorly— translated it as: A no ser, claro está, que estuviera enojado y tuviera unas quinientas rutinas para mí.

Thank you in advance.
 
  • gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    Routine here just means set phrases that the guy liked to use. "To lay on" means to subject (the other guy) (to insults). This phrasal verb was popular in the Sixties, and while still used sometimes, it is less frequent now.

    In other words, he was always insulting the other guy, and he had a rich vocabulary with which to do so.
     

    Iropan

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    He's referring to a stand-up comedy routine, in the sense that the other one had 500 routines memorized of what he would say to put him down. I don't think I've ever heard "rutinas" used in Spanish to convey that sense though. Might want to go with "discursos" for example.
     

    Txiri

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Saying "shut up, pendejo" is one of his brother's typical comments to him.

    However, when the brother gets mad, he's got a whole litany of them:

    "You're so dumb, you make a stump look smart."
    "If I had a choice, I'd rather have had a baby goat instead of a brother.

    His brother gets very creative. That's what I understand is meant by having all those routines.

    How to translate it: in Spain you could say, tenía un montón de rollos que soltaba, como éste por ejemplo: It's the Haitian, he'd say to his buddies. Hey Señor Haitian, Mami found you on the border and only took you in because she felt sorry for you."
    The text in blue is one of the routines, or rollos. I don't know if this would be widely grasped every where in Latin America. You would want to tailor your solution to your audience.
     

    WizardDani

    Senior Member
    Español, USA English
    Thank you so much guys!

    Following your advices, we have finally decided to translate it to:

    A no ser, claro está, que estuviera enojado y me soltara las quinientas burlas de siempre.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top