Spanglish for Hiring Movers
July 20, 2011 12:30 AM   Subscribe

Good Spanish phrasebook for hiring day laborers?

At the end of the month, I am going to help a good friend move his Mom out of her apartment, into assisted living. His back is ruined: my knees are shot. He wants to hire day labor for the heavy lifting of clearing out her apartment, from the pool of young Latino men who congregate every day in our neighborhood, seeking work.

Neither of us speak Spanish. If he really goes through with this, I want to be able to say basic phrases like "I need 3 strong men for moving" or "$12/hr in cash" or "time for a water break, put down the boxes" or "get in the truck"
posted by thelonius to Society & Culture (17 answers total)
Do you have a friend with some high school Spanish (or better) that can come help you?

Even if you look up some translations online for what you would like to say, it seems like you might have trouble understanding any of their answers.
posted by andoatnp at 12:39 AM on July 20, 2011

I could probably recruit someone with at least High School proficiency, by August 1, yeah.....but, I think it would be cool to learn enough pidgin Spanish, to try it myself
posted by thelonius at 12:43 AM on July 20, 2011

these guys are used to Bad English vs. Bad Spanish, too, in hiring transactions

a man who speaks both languages badly is management material, I guess :)
posted by thelonius at 1:00 AM on July 20, 2011

Okay, this is from someone who normally makes do with high school level proficient French... But still. Might give you some help.

Hi, I need three men to help me move furniture today.
Hola. Necesito a tres hombres fuertes ayudarme a mover los muebles hoy.

I can pay you $12/hour. Who is interested?
Puedo pagarle doce dólares por hora en efectivo. ¿Quién está interesada?

Great. Please get in the truck.
Bien. Vaya por favor consiguen en el carro.

Stop, please! It is time for water.
¡Parada por favor! Es tiempo por agua.

We are done. Thank you for your hard work.
Nos terminado. Gracias por su trabajo duro.

Hopefully someone who actually speaks Spanish can help with nuance.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 1:04 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

You also might want to figure out Spanish translations for some of the things they are likely to say so you can understand them, like "where is the bathroom?" or "I am hurt, can you take me to the hospital?".
posted by andoatnp at 1:09 AM on July 20, 2011

thank you, that is helpful

we're going to be able to use hand gestures etc too, for the "we want to hire 3 guys" bit - there is a well established day labor market area....if you roll up with a truck and hold up 3 fingers, it's clear what you want.

It may be possible to negotiate wages with only hand signals, even, but I'd like to make an effort to go a little bit beyond that, in my efforts to communicate with contract workers
posted by thelonius at 1:13 AM on July 20, 2011

the experienced men do have some English. If anyone is in distress or injured, 911 can supply us with bilingual responders, in a worst case scenario.
posted by thelonius at 1:15 AM on July 20, 2011

I'm willing to bet you'd have more luck offering a flat fee for a day's work. It's the right thing to do as well -- it's not like these guys can work a half-day then go back to where they pick up jobs. Once the morning rush is over, it's usually over.
posted by bardic at 2:40 AM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

I adjusted the answer above to read a little more smoothly (the first two were fine):

Good, come with me to the truck.
Bueno, venga con migo al camion.

Let's take a little break- who wants water?
Decansamos por un ratito- quien quiere un vaso de agua?

We are done. Thank you for your hard work.
Terminamos! Muchas gracias por un trabajo bien hecho.

Some other useful phrases:

Hi, my name is XX
Hola, me llamo XX.

They might want to know how many hours or an estimate of total payment rather than hourly rate "50 dollars each for three hours work" etc. They might also want to know where the job is (how many minutes away). ($12/ hour would be a lot less appealing if it's a two hour job that takes 45 minutes to get to)

around four hours
cuatro horas, mas o menos.

the house is close, fifteen minutes drive
La casa esta cerca, quince minutos en carro.

please be careful with that one- it's fragile
Cuidado con eso, es delicado.

the bathroom is over there
el bano esta alla
posted by emd3737 at 2:41 AM on July 20, 2011

I'm liking the idea of hiring for a fair day's work and a fair day's pay. Then we can put our guys on 45 min on/15 min off for water/bio-breaks/rest

this is going to be physical labor in 95-100 degree weather - not at all easy work
posted by thelonius at 3:27 AM on July 20, 2011

Here in NY, no matter what you're actually doing, they call that "kitchen Spanish."
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:16 AM on July 20, 2011

Where are you? Here in Los Angeles the laborers that hang out at u-haul (instead of Home Depot) are experienced movers. You wll have a much better moving experience by hiring them. For the language gap I would get a Spanish/English app for my phone or type up a bunch of anticipated phrases and translate them online. Print that out and you are ready to go.
posted by snowjoe at 6:55 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think you are better off with short phrases that you can repeat a few times, than long literal translations of English sentences that you are going to mangle. Like just "agua?" covers "Let's take a little break- who wants water?" Unless you write these down and show them to them.
posted by smackfu at 7:00 AM on July 20, 2011

snowjoe - in NC. The corner I am referencing is the subject of this case:

there is a U-Haul just down the street from there, but I do not see people congregating at that location.

smackfu - If I do this myself, I'll be using short phrases, have no fear :) It is nice to see the proper Spanish, though
posted by thelonius at 7:40 AM on July 20, 2011

Do you have a smartphone? Surely there is a translation app for things that can't be communicated through pointing. Spanish is very easy to pronounce, so they should be able to understand you if you read off your phone. Perhaps there also exists a speech-to-text app.
posted by desjardins at 12:09 PM on July 20, 2011

Also, here in LA--if you ask a day before you need the guys (there's usually 1 guy who's kind of in charge), then the workers will show up with gloves, back belts, etc. Some even have their own dollies. And don't hesitate to hire an older guy--he's usually the one who knows how to pack a truck, etc.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:43 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

resolution: the move is deferred indefinitely, so I no longer need a crash course in "kitchen Spanish". Thanks for all of your help.
posted by thelonius at 6:15 PM on July 26, 2011

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