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I recently heard the song "En la Macarenita" (YouTube link here), which is in Spanish, according to https://musicatradicional.eu/es/piece/24731.

The sheet music I have of it includes an English translation, which goes along the lines of

"In Macarenita, he gave me glances",

and describes two people falling in love. However, my understanding of the Spanish, of which some lines (although I cannot find the lyrics online) are

"en la Macarenita, me dieron agua, agua más fría que la nieve en una taya".

Unless I am mis-translating the lyrics badly, the song literally means

"in the Macarenita, they gave me water, water colder than snow".

Is "agua" a euphemism for looking at someone? Is the song just not in Spanish and in another, very similar language? Or is the whole song just a joke?

Sheet music (with lyrics and translations):

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  • Can you include an entire copy of the sheet music? The song is very much Spanish, but often times translations of songs can be fairly loose to account for rhythm, rhyme, etc. and so lines can be rearranged or altered substantially. – user0721090601 Mar 18 '19 at 22:51
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    @walen El DLE tiene registrado dar el agua a alguien como asesinarlo en Honduras y, panhispánicamente, dar un agua a algo como limpiarlo. En el D de Americanismos, tiene varios significados de dar agua como rehusar una proposición, mezclar fichas de dominó, prescindir de algo por estar viejo, conceder una ventaja, y especificando el tipo de agua, podría llegar a ser marcharse o seducir a alguien. – user0721090601 Mar 19 '19 at 1:07
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+50

I haven't found the full lyrics, nor did I know the song before now, but I did some research:

From the DRAE's entry for "Agua":

hacer agua

  1. loc. verb. Dicho especialmente de un proyecto: Presentar debilidad o síntomas de ir a fracasar.

  2. loc. verb. Mar. hacer aguada.

  3. loc. verb. Dicho de un buque: Ser invadido por el agua a través de alguna grieta o abertura.

I guess, out from the first meaning, that "dar agua", as both "dar" and "hacer" are vague words used to mark the intent of the forthcoming word, holds the same meaning as "hacer agua", but in regards to people, not to projects.

In other words, I assume "dar agua" means the same as "dar calabazas". Cold as ice water is often unexpected, and shocks you.

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The Macarenita that is referred to in the song is the Puerta de la Macarena in Sevilla, Spain. It's one of the three entrances that remain in what were the ancient city walls. The song says

En la Macarenita
me dieron agua
más fresca que la nieve
en una talla

Note that the word is talla, not *taya (the pronunciation would remain the same). A talla is a kind of vessel that allows the evaporation of the water stored in it, thus cooling it, which is why the song says agua más fresca que la nieve "water that is cooler than snow".

I don't think there's any hidden or figurative meaning to this. The Macarena was one of the main access points to the city, so it makes sense that someone might be selling water to the people who happened to get to the city after a long journey.

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  • Macarenita is also the neighborhood or even the church, according to my husband who is from the center of that city. :) – Lambie Mar 22 '19 at 17:01

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