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08/04/07

Spanish phrases and words #9

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

Here are two sayings that are similar in Spanish and English, but not quite the same:

— "No ser ni carne ni pescado" literally means "To be neither meat nor fish". In English the saying goes "To be neither fish nor fowl".

— Ser de carne y hueso" translates to "To be of flesh and bone". In English we phrase this as "To be flesh and blood".

— The first saying brings to mind the two versions of "fish" in Spanish. When you go to buy fish in the market you purchase "pescado". A single fish is a "pez". "Pez" comes up in colloquial speech when you refer to someone as a "pez gordo" or "fat fish". In English we'd describe this person as a "big shot".

Thanks Chris! And here are a couple more “meaty” sayings that I can think of:

— "Es un cacho de carne con ojos” —literally, “He/she is a piece of meat with eyes”— may be translated as "He/she is a drip".

— “Está pez” —literally, “He/she is fish”— may be translated as “He/she has no clue” (about something in particular like geography, politics, etc.)

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07/21/07

Spanish phrases and words #7

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

Here are some (not an exhaustive list) idioms involving hunger, "hambre" in Spanish:

"A buen hambre no hay pan duro" translates to "For a good hunger there's no such thing as hard bread". In English we might say "Hunger is the best sauce". Henry Fielding, the author of "Tom Jones" phrased it as "Hunger is better than a French chef".

"Tengo un hambre canina" literally means "I have a canine hunger". When we're this hungry in English we say "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse".

"Ser más listo que el hambre" literally translates to "To be more clever (smarter) than hunger". The equivalent in English is "To be as sharp as a tack".

Thanks Chris! I would just one more:

"Se juntaron el hambre y las ganas de comer", meaning "hunger and crave for food met", may be translated as "They're two of a kind".

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

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07/12/07

Spanish phrases and words #6

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

Here are some somewhat lugubrious idioms. In English, when someone is gravely ill we say "he's at death's door" or "He's got one foot in the grave". Here are some Spanish equivalents:

- "Está en las últimas" which translates to "He's in the last throes"
- "Está en los umbrales de la muerte" meaning "He's in the thresholds of death"
- "Está a dos pasos de la muerte" signifies "He's two steps away from death"
- "Tiene un pie en la hoya (huesa)" translates to "He has one foot in the grave"

Thanks Chris! I would add a few more idioms related to death:

- "Tiene los días contados" is "His days are numbered"
- "Te quedan dos telediarios" (humourous, ofen used when hearing a relative or friend coughing like mad) means "Only two news programs left for you"
- "Está de muerte" (referring to some delicious food) literally means "It's deadly good" and could be translated as "It's finger-licking good"
- "Me dio un susto de muerte" is "He scared me to death"
- "Un pueblo de mala muerte" literally means "a village of bad death" and may be translated as a dump or a hole
- There's also "Un hotel de mala muerte", literally meaning "a hotel of bad death", and it may be translated as "A grotty hotel".

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

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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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06/28/07

Spanish phrases and words #4

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

Some insect related idioms and words: "Ser una hormiga", "To be an ant" connotes industriousness or thriftiness. A "pulga" is a flea. It is also the root of the Spanish word for thumb, "pulgar" which has an unsavory origin. I have it on good authority (my Spanish Spanish teacher) that it derives from the medieval custom of killing fleas with one's thumbnail. The Spanish word for inch derives from the measure of a thumb, a "pulgada". In English we also use body parts for measurements, most notably the foot. An arcane measure, but still used with horses, is the hand. Another Spanish idiom allows the substitution of a flea for a fly, as in "Tener la mosca (pulga) detras de la oreja" which literally translates to "To have the fly behind the ear". The colloquial meaning is "To be suspicious or uneasy".

Thanks Chris! Another very familiar Spanish saying is “Estar mosqueado”, literally “To be flied” (referring to flies, not the verb “to fly”). It means “To be annoyed/suspicious”, depending on the context.

Here are some other Spanish expressions with insects:

- “Ser un moscón”, “To be a big fly”, is “To be a pest”, in the sense of somebody who won’t leave you alone for a minute.
- “No se oye ni una mosca”, literally “Not even a fly can be heard”, would have an English equivalent in “You could have heard a pin drop”.
- “¿Qué mosca te ha picado?”, literally “What fly bit you?”, means “What’s wrong with you?”
- “Por si las moscas”, literally “In case the flies...”, is “Just in case”.
- “Estar zumbado”, literally “To be buzzed”, means “To be crazy”.

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

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