A short while later I discovered that she had left vases filled with red roses all over the house, and a card on my pillow: I hope you reach a hunnert.

This is English translation by Grossman for the following section of Garcia Marquez's Memories of My Melancholy Whores:

Poco después descubrí que había dejado floreros de rosas rojas por toda la casa, y una tarjeta en la almohada: Le deseo que llegue a los sien.

As far as I can tell the author has translated "los sien" as "hunnert", which means hundred. However, the term sien seems to mean temple, but Google Translate gives "one hundred" for los sien. My first question is why has los sien been translated as hunnert and not hundred and the second question is, how come sien means temple and los sien means hundred?

  • Please notice that google translate gives you "one hundred" but below the box where you type whatever you want to be translated you see this message "Showing translation for los cien".
    – DGaleano
    Mar 21, 2016 at 15:00
  • 2
    Also, note this only works in dialects with seseo. I pronounce "sien" and "cien" differently, so I was as confused as you until it hit me most people from Latin America would actually pronounce them the same.
    – Yay
    Mar 21, 2016 at 15:52
  • @DGaleano sorry for missing that, you're right. Google Translate actually shows translation for los cien, though the Marquez actually used sien. Mar 21, 2016 at 16:17

1 Answer 1


The phrase correctly written is

Le deseo que llegue a los cien.

I hope you reach a hundred.

She is wishing he lives many more years and come to reach even a hundred years old. (I think this is a kind of farewell card).

As the narrative uses free indirect style, the narrator shows the message as she wrote it, that is, misspelling: sien (temple) instead of cien (a hundred). And therefore the translator put "hunnert" rather than "hundred" to maintain the idea that the writer was not very cultured.

  • Thank you. It was very insightful to me to know that it has been misspelled intentionally and furthermore, the translator has conveyed the tone to some extent. Mar 21, 2016 at 16:39

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