I heard the expression "llava" / "ya va" (?) being used in Venezuelan Spanish. It seems to have the meaning of "wait a moment", but my Mexican friend don't understand it.
Does anyone who know what this word means and how to spell it?
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I lived in Venezuela for 23 years and speak fluent Spanish. "Ya va" is a colloquialism, much like "Hang on a minute". Note that it has NOTHING to do with the verb "ir" or "to go", in the same way that "Hang on a minute" has nothing to do with the verb "to hang". In Venezuela it means: In an argument or conflict: "Hold it right there!" or "Hold your horses!" In normal conversation, after receiving a request: "Hang on a minute." (because I´m busy, for example) NB: "Ya voy!" is also a colloquialism, but is not used in the same type of context. While "Ya va" effectively means "Wait!", "Ya voy" means: "I'm on it!" or "Coming!" or "Be right there!". In this context, "voy" IS related to the verb "ir" or "to go" - so "ya voy" can also mean "Going, already!" or similar. I hope that helps.
Ya va is also used in Argentina to tell the other person to wait for a moment. Some possible translations would be:
be right there
give me a second/moment (please)
just a second/moment (please)
wait a second/moment (please)
one second/moment (please)
...plus other similar variations, and which one to use will probably depend on the context.
Literal translation is
[He/she/it] is already going.
ya (already) and
va (he/she/it goes), however it would be more idiomatically in English as “(he/she/it)'s already coming”.
A similar expression is
Ya voy, meaning “I'm already coming” (or just “coming!”).
Two meaning shift has occurred. The first is a meaning shift in the intention. If you're asked to come to a place, your answer “I'm already coming” has an implicit “Wait for me!”. This way, the phrases
¡ya voy! and
¡ya va! actually ended meaning just “Wait!”, regardless if you already are moving towards the request or not.
Secondly, the third person singular has become such a fixed phrase that it is used for any person or situation, including the first person.
So when you request something to someone,
¡ya va! actually means:
Wait! (wait an indefinite amount of time until I or someone else attend your request).
¡ya va! is understood this way in Venezuela, Spain, Colombia, Puerto Rico, etc. The only people having problem seem to be the Mexicans, but this expression might be similar to
To add to @Eduardo's answer, note that ya va is an informal, colloquial way of asking another person to wait for a moment, so I guess that (possibly) closer translations would be more in the lines of just a sec or wait a mo' (for spoken and written language).
Ya voy or ya va...as in English "coming!" Like when mom/dad says "let's go" a proper reply to someone you are that familiar with, as in mom/dad, would be "ya voy!" or "ya va!" The difference... "ya voy" "I'm coming"; "ya va" ... "he/she/it is coming".
However, I've also used "ya va" in the sense of "here it comes". When you know somebody is about to do something typical/expected... "look, here it comes"..."mira (look), ya va (here it comes).
For example... Joe you're up on the batting cage, "ya voy".
As Cadenza says, it is very generic Spanish. We use it in Puerto Rico as well. Check the uses of the verb at http://www.rae.es it is the official site for the Spanish language or the Spanish (language) Royal Academy (REAL ACADEMIA ESPAÑOLA)