I ain’t seen you for a long time


Senior Member
Spanish - Spain
I have a weird question (OK, it's not the first time, I guess… :)).

The point is that the sentence in the title is included in a sample of "slang" (even cockney) used by Winston Churchill, whose biography I am translating.

But that sentence doesn't seem to be a bit of "slang"; all I gather is that it means just that: "Hacía mucho que no te veía"; the best I can do to make it look somewhat "informal" in Spanish is making it to mean "«¡Cuánto tiempo sin verte…!", in the faint hope it will make Winston a bit too unceremonious with his young secretary, Marian Holmes, to whom he is talking.

I give you the whole context, just to make it easier for you to see what my problem is (namely, how to render that into Spanish slang or similar…).

Lady Diana Cooper explains that the group of Curchill in Algiers, during WWII (january 1944, 5 months before D Day), is a circus: "'Never have I seen him spin more fantastic stuff, the woof of English and the warp of slang.’ She was right about slang; Churchill would occasionally descend into bouts of cockney, telling Leslie Rowan, ‘Come on – stop muckin’ me about!’, and Marian Holmes, ‘I ain’t seen you for a long time,’ or, when he accidentally lit the wrong end of his cigar, ‘Oh lor’. Look what I’ve done!’"

And that's it —I'll swear it's not what anyone would call a ciphered language…

I hope you can lit my lantern here, as you have always done.

Thanks for your help.

  • Marsianitoh

    Senior Member
    It doesn't sound slang nowadays but it must have sounded terrible to a lady in the early 40s, especially coming from someone like Churchill .
    - ¡No ti había/ tie visto en una jarta tiempo!
    - ¡Zeñó*/ Jozú*/ La ordiga! ¡Mia lo q'hecho!
    * Tal vez un poco demasiado andaluz.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    Hola Marsianitoh!
    Entiendo. Eso explica las cosas. Lo de que salgo un poco a la andaluza es normal, porque yo creo que en castellano no tenemos demasiados "slangs", y el andaluz es quizá el que más juego puede dar en un momento dado. No sé es una impresión.
    Pero tu explicación me viene de perlas. Aadptándola un poco me arregla la papeleta.

    Muchas gracias :thumbsup: :)

    Hasta otra!


    Senior Member
    English, USA
    “Is this word used orally in most parts of the country by cultivated speakers? In 1963, W3 said it was provoking a firestorm of protests from journalists and academics. …

    The editor of W3, Philip Gove, explained the change by conceding he had no large files of empirical evidence. ‘Knowledge of some kind of language behavior comes through contact with its observers and is not always documented because there seems no reason to collect additional evidence.” …

    If that’s the method, then one can confidently then W3’s treatment of ain’t was flawed in its incompleteness.

    In 1962, the year after W3 was published, an apt cartoon appeared in The New Yorker. A man stands in the reception area of G. & C. Merriam Webster Dictionary Division, as the receptionist says to him, “Sorry. Dr. Gove ain’t in.”

    Yes, *ain’t is used by cultivated speakers, but almost always for either of two reasons: (1) to be tongue in cheek; and (2) to flaunt their reverse snobbery. For most people it remains an emblem of poor usage—a nonword.”

    —Language Change Index
    *ain’t used with a straight face: Stage 1

    cited in Garner’s Modern English Usage
    page 33
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