While Ecuadorians, especially in the sierra, tend to speak very clear and understandable Spanish, there are several regional colloquialisms that you should be aware of. Learning idioms is important for two reasons, to comprehend what is being said and also to pepper into your own speech to sound more like a local.
In my experience, the most commonly used idiom in Ecuador is the phrase: Siga no más. Coincidentally, it is also the most counter-intuitive of the colloquialisms that I have encountered here. Let’s break it down.
Siga is an imperative conjugation of the transitive verb seguir which means “to follow” or “to continue” and is being expressed as a command.
The second part of the phrase sounds like No más which means no more… however, it is actually not two words but one: Nomás which means just or only.
So at first hearing it, this phrase sounds like: follow (or continue) no more… which gives one the impression that its speaker wants you to stop doing whatever it is that you are doing. Here’s where the confusion comes in, while your ears hear this phrase that seems to mean “keep walking,” your eyes see its speaker waving you into their home, restaurant, store etc… with a big smile on their face. So, what gives?
Siga nomás is actually a shortening of the phrase Siga, alli nomás, which is used to basically mean “Go on, it’s not much further” and is used as a friendly invitation to advance. I have heard this phrase used in a variety of situations, here are a couple of examples:
Are you open? Siga nomás! (Yes, come on in!)
This is a nice scarf. Siga nomás (Feel free to come in and look around more)
Table for two please. Siga nomás (Sit wherever you would like)
Can I wear my shirt in the pool? It’s for sun protection. Siga nomás! (Yeah, whatever, go ahead wierdo)