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11/17/07

Spanish phrases and words #19

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

Some more idioms involving "pan", which means "bread".

"Contigo pan y cebolla" literally translates to "With you bread and onion". The idiomatic meaning is "We shall live on love alone". At the other end of the spectrum is "Pan con pan, comida de tontos", which literally and figuratively means "Bread with bread, meal of fools". In Spanish, to describe a very long day, one would say "Más largo que un dia sin pan", or "Longer than a day without bread". Finally, to describe something that is very easy one can say "Es pan comido", which means "It's eaten bread". In English we exhibit more of a "sweet tooth" since we would say "It's a piece of cake" or "It's as easy as pie".

Thanks Chris! I would add a couple more, highlighting the sometimes critical difference between “ser” and “estar” (the two possible translations of the verb “to be”, and great headaches for Spanish learners):

- "Ser más bueno que el pan" and “Estar más bueno que el pan" would both be literally translated as “To be better than bread”. With the idiomatic hat on, however, "Ser bueno" means to be good and "Estar bueno" means to be delicious, generally used when speaking about food. No wonder then that the first idiom actually means “To be as good as gold” while the second is a very familiar way to say that somebody has a great sex appeal…

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

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11/10/07

Spanish phrases and words #18

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

Here are two idioms describing a knowledgeable person:

"Sabe más que Merlín" literally translates to "He knows more than Merlin". In English we employ the phrase "He's a know-it-all", but note that this is pejorative. "Sabe latín (mucho latín)" means "He knows Latin (a lot of Latin)". The colloquial equivalent in English is "He's nobody's fool".

Thanks Chris! And now my two cents:

- In Spain I’ve often heard “Sabe más que Lepe”. I didn’t know there was also a version featuring Merlin...
- There’s a literal Spanish counterpart for “He’s a know-it-all” (“Es un sabelotodo”), which is also pejorative in Spanish. A more positive option is “Se las sabe todas”, literally “He knows them all”, meaning “He knows all the tricks” or “You can’t fool him/her”.

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

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11/03/07

Spanish phrases and words #17

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

Here are some idioms involving feet, "pies" in Spanish. "Pensar con los pies" means "To think with the feet". The colloquial translation is "To talk through one's hat", which is a nice way of saying "Talking bull____". "Nacer de pie" translates literally as "To be born standing up". The idiomatic meaning is "To be born under a lucky star". There is a nearly literal equivalent in Spanish "Haber nacido con buena estrella" or "To be born with a good star".

Thanks Chris! And a few more: "Buscarle tres/cinco pies al gato" (literally, "To look for three/five feet in a cat") means to unnecessarily complicate things. Doing something "Con pies de plomo" (literally, "With feet of lead") means doing something very warily. "No dar pie con bola" (literally, "Not to hit ball with foot") means not to be able to do anything right. And "No tener ni pies ni cabeza" (literally, "Not to have feet nor head") means "To be utter nonsense".

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

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10/27/07

Spanish phrases and words #16

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

Here are some anatomy related idioms — specifically the hand. "Llevar el corazón en la mano" literally translates to "To carry the heart in the hand". The equivalent in English is "To wear one's heart on one's sleeve".

In English, when we're nervous we "Bite our nails". In Spanish one would "bite one's knuckles" as in "Comerse (morderse) los nudillos".

"No se chupa el dedo" means "He doesn't suck his finger". The colloquial equivalent in English is "He wasn't born yesterday" or "There are no flies on him".

When someone abuses a courtesy or an indulgence, we say "Give him an inch and he'll take a mile". The Spanish counterpart is "Dale un dedo y se tomará hasta el codo", which literally means "Give him a finger and he'll take up to the elbow".

Thanks Chris, speaking about biting one’s nails I’d say that the literal Spanish equivalent “comerse / morderse las uñas” is a bit more common in Spain at least, actually because a lot of people do bite their nails out of nervousness...

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

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10/26/07

Spanish phrases and words #15

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

Codfish (bacalao) has an important historical role in Iberian history. Not surprisingly, this is reflected in idioms. "Te conozco bacalao aunque vienes (vengas) disfrazado" literally translates to "I know you codfish even though you come disguised". The equivalent phrase in English is "I can see straight through you" or "You can't fool me". Another idiom is "Cortar (partir) el bacalao" which literally means "To cut up (divvy up) the codfish". The colloquial meaning is "To be the boss".

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

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