apenas si estuvo poblado

00:57 Mar 1, 2016
This question was closed without grading. Reason: Other

Spanish to English translations [PRO]
Geography / Population
Spanish term or phrase: apenas si estuvo poblado
I'm trying to figure out if this means it was only sparsely populated, or not populated at all. In other words, what does the "apenas" attach to, and what does "si" mean?

A algunos les llama la atención que la oferta gastronómica regional —la comida yucateca, pues— no prime más en Cancún. Pues bien, cabe recordar que el paradisíaco lugar hasta hace muy poco **apenas si estuvo poblado**, de modo que no hubo una comunidad de yucatecos que desarrollara su propia versión de gastronomía costeña.
Muriel Vasconcellos
United States
Local time: 20:35

Summary of answers provided
4 +8was barely (even) populated at all
Robert Carter
5was barely, if at all, populated
Marcelo González
3 +1sparsely populated
Andy Watkinson
4hardly inhabited
Phoenix III

Discussion entries: 10



40 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +8
was barely (even) populated at all

Yes, I agree with Andy, though I think I'd phrase it differently:

"You have to remember though, this Mexican paradise was barely even populated at all until fairly recently, so..." I suppose you could leave out "even".

For reference, see:

Robert Carter
Local time: 22:35
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Andy Watkinson: Yep. "Barely even" is better.
23 mins
  -> Thanks, Andy, very kind.

agree  Patricia Fierro, M. Sc.
24 mins
  -> Thanks, Patricia.

agree  jmf
25 mins
  -> Thanks, Jmf.

agree  Verginia Ophof
1 hr
  -> Thanks, Verginia.

agree  Charles Davis
2 hrs
  -> Thanks, Charles.

agree  franglish
7 hrs
  -> Thank you.

agree  James A. Walsh
10 hrs
  -> Thanks, James.

agree  Robert Forstag: I think that this usage of "si" is peculiar to peninsular Spanish, and that the sentence would have the same meaning without it. // Interesting. Thanks for the info. I've only seen it in material from Spain.
10 hrs
  -> Thanks, Robert. It's standard here in Mexico and you often hear it with the sí before apenas too.
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13 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
sparsely populated

You said it yourself.

"Apenas estuvo poblado" = It as sparsely.....
plus the emphatic "si" de toda la vida.

"Apenas si" is pretty common.

Note added at 1 hr (2016-03-01 02:19:00 GMT)

"It as sparsely populated" ¿?

"was" ;-))

Andy Watkinson
Local time: 05:35
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  jmf: This also works well if you place it before hasta hace muy poco
52 mins
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13 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
hardly inhabited

another option.

Phoenix III
United States
Local time: 23:35
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in SpanishSpanish
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20 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
was barely, if at all, populated

or "was barely/hardly/sparsely populated, if at all"

apenas si [es que] = if [it was] at all

That is to say, according to the speaker, it may not have been "poblado" at all.

Note added at 1 day1 hr (2016-03-02 02:48:49 GMT)

We may not know how thoughfully the author used this construction (i.e., if he was aware of its potentially very nuanced meaning), but given the academic nature of the text, I would be willing to give him (or her) the benefit of the doubt.

This sort of reminds me of how, as a teenager, I would mouth the lyrics to a rock song (by Led Zepellin perhaps) without really knowing exactly what they were saying; nonetheless, the song remains the same (as Page and Plant might say). :-)

Finally, in less formal contexts (like teens going on a road trip), apenas si might be rendered as (an end-of-statement) "if that":

He just shouldn't be able to come with us. Between gas and food, the guy's chipped in barely ten bucks, if that.

Note added at 1 day8 hrs (2016-03-02 09:00:38 GMT)

And yes, Muriel, how this question could possibly be considered non-Pro is beyond me. :-)

Marcelo González
Local time: 11:35
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
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