¿Mande? and why I use it

In Spanish, according to the DLE, “mandar” means to order or to command (i.e. Mi médico me mandó a ver a un especialista) or to send (i.e. Mis padres me mandaron un regalo por mi cumpleaños). 

As a Peruvian, “mande” is a word that I included in my “Mexican word list” years ago. To me, it is a polite way to ask for a repetition. In fact, the Diccionario de Español de México defines it as “Expresión de cortesía con la que uno contesta a alguien que lo llama o cuando no ha escuchado algo: “—¡Raúl! —¡Mande!””

Mande is also one of the most useful words when interpreting for a patient or deponent who lives in California or any border state, whether it is Mexican or non-Mexican. Whenever a person says something I couldn’t hear for any reason, it was spoken too fast or the audio was bad, I use it and it always works. I find it faster and more efficient than saying “Señora, no la pude oír bien, ¿podría repetir lo que dijo? Gracias.” since it is the concept of my not being able to hear what was said, wrapped in politeness. 

In English, the best equivalent of “mande” would be “Come again?”. And the Cambridge Dictionary confirms that this word is “used to ask someone to repeat something that you have not heard or understood”.  It lacks the politeness of its Mexican counterpart, but it is good enough for me. Although, it may not be good enough for my brain as I have caught myself saying “¿Mande?” to English-speaking providers which I suspect indicates how comfortable my brain is with this “linguistic shortcut”. 

Isn’t “mande” a very practical word? What is your experience with using it?  Los leo a continuation. 

If you are curious, here are my sources:

  • https://dle.rae.es/mandar? 
  • https://dem.colmex.mx/Ver/mande
  • https://lema.rae.es/damer/
  • https://dictionary.cambridge.org/es/diccionario/ingles/come-again

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