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07/03/07

Spanish phrases and words #5

From Chris Royston, weekly collaborator here at Into Spanish Translation Blog:

Here are some idioms involving gallina (hen) or gallo (rooster):

- "Gallina ciega" literally translates to "blind hen". In English we know this game as "Blind man's bluff".

- "Acostarse con las gallinas" has the shocking literal translation of "To go to sleep with the hens", but the idiomatic meaning is far more pedestrian: "To go to bed early".

Yes Chris, the literal translation indeed distorts the idiomatic meaning of this saying. "Con" can most of the time be safely translated as "with". However, in this context it means "at the same time (as the hens)". So you go to sleep at the same time as the hens or you wake up at the same time as the hens (that's the version I'm more familiar to, "Levantarse con las gallinas").


In English we sometimes employ the saying "The wife wears the pants (trousers) in that house" to signify that the the woman rules the roost. In Spanish the colloquial equivalent is "En casa de XYZ más puede la gallina que el gallo", which literally means "In XYZ's house the hen is more powerful than the rooster".

Thanks Chris! Here are some other related Spanish expressions that I know:

- "Ser un gallito", literally "To be a little rooster" can be translated as "To be cocky".

- "Estar como gallina en corral ajeno", literally "To be like a hen in somebody else's farmyard", can be translated as "To be like a fish out of water".

- "La gallina de los huevos de oro" is equivalent to "The goose that lays the golden eggs".

Want more? Don't hesitate to visit Colloquial Spanish blog!

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