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In formatting the Spanish version of Don Quixote, I find that many of the words in the copy I have "run together" (two or even three words without a space).

Usually I can figure out where I should break up these words using translate.com

However, the word "vuestramerced" has me and Translate.com stumped.

What does it mean?

Or what does vuestra merced" mean? Or "vues tra merced" or...???

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2  
    
Es vuestra merced elies.rediris.es/elies22/cap7.htm –  Emilio Gort Jan 9 at 5:49

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Like in English, you can search for words in spanish (although without english translation) in the official spanish dictionary:

Real Academia Española (RAE) here

and checkout if the word exist or is accepted nowadays. If you search for the word Vuestramerced you won't find it; but, if you dissect the word and search for merced you'll find something.

meaning of merced

So vuestra merced it was used (< XIX ) to refer to someone who didn't have any title to call after it, like military ranks, or court titles. It was a respectful way to say "Sir"

Today we use: "usted" instead.

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I thought that "your mercy" could be used on English just as "vuestra merced". If not, compare to expressions like "your highness", or "your grace". It's a polite form of referring the second person, but without naming directly or pointing with "you". It was also a way to ask for favours indirectly, because I don't request something of you, but of your grace.

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Vuestra merced was a courtesy treatment to address other people in the past. This was sometimes degraded into vuesa merced, with the same meaning. Later, it evolved into vusted and, finally, usted, which is used nowadays.

Notice that the older courtesy treatment vos is sometimes used in Don Quixote too, but with a different meaning. Don Quixote addresses Sancho as vos when he is angry at him. We can summarise the treatments used in the XVI century as follows:

  • Vuestra merced is the courtesy treatment, used for people of the same or higher rank (Sancho always addresses Don Quixote as vuestra merced or the equivalent vuesa merced).
  • is the familiar treatment, used for people of lower rank or sometimes of the same rank, if inside the family or among low rank people. Don Quixote almost always addresses Sancho as .
  • Vos is used to express disdain (Don Quixote addresses evil doers as vos, and also Sancho when he is angry at him). It is also used sometimes in an affected way (Sancho addresses Dulcinea as vos), reminiscent of times passed.
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