La Jota Aragonesa

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Jota is a genre of music from the north of Spain (especially Aragón and Navarra). It’s often sung by either classically trained singers or people who have naturally powerful vocal abilities. Here’s a great example (this singer belonged to the second category):

Here are the lyrics:

Ay madre qué tiene la jota,
madre no sé lo que tiene,
ay madre qué tiene la jota
que hace llorar a los viejos
y alegra a la gente moza,
y alegra a la gente moza,
ay madre no sé lo que tiene.

Note: moza means joven. It’s often used in the north of Spain.

We also wanted to talk in this week’s newsletter about verbs alegrar and alegrarse, as many students often have questions about their usage. Here’s how it works:

Level: advanced

Alegrar – to cheer [someone] up, to make [someone] happy
Alegrarse – to be happy, to be glad

As you can probably tell, alegrarse is the reflexive version of alegrar (and, as such, a different verb all together). They would, of course, be conjugated differently:

Alegrar Alegrarse
Alegro Me alegro
Alegras Te alegras
Alegra Se alegra
Alegramos Nos alegramos
(Alegráis) (Os alegráis)
Alegran Se alegran

(Same thing for all other tenses.)

What makes them interesting is the fact that, sometimes, the same idea can be expressed with either verb, using a different construction (either “it makes me happy that […],” with alegrar,  or “I’m happy that […],” with alegrarse). What makes them even more interesting is the fact that, after the que/that, they usually take subjunctive. However, if we have a verb in the infinitive form right after alegra/alegro, and this verb is not a typical subjunctive trigger (like dudar, recomendar, etc.), then there’s no subjunctive.

Also, the reflexive version (me alegro, te alegras, se alegra… ) is always followed by de.

Spanish Literal meaning, in English
Me alegro de que estés bien. I’m happy [from the fact that] you are well.
Me alegra que estés bien. It makes me happy [the fact that] you are well.
Me alegro de saber que estás bien. I’m happy [from the fact of] knowing you are well.
Me alegra saber que estás bien. It makes me happy to know you are well.

Crazy, we know. Lastly, if we analyze the examples above, it’s worth noting that the ‘me’ is different in ‘me alegro’ and ‘me alegra’: in the former case, it’s a reflexive ‘me,’ while in the latter, it’s a direct object ‘me.’

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