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More Colloquial Expressions from Spain

This week I devoted a few hours to transcribing a series of talks on business leadership, which were given by a Basque speaker. The experience reminded me once again of how much the different variants of the Spanish language differ from region to region. Thus, I decided to extend my previous post on colorful sayings from Spain and offer you a few more examples.

No tener abuela (literally: To have no grandmother):

Spanish grandmothers, like those in many other places, are very affectionate with their grandchildren, and it is common to hear them express their love in some form of praise, compliment, or flattery, of the kind of “My, how beautiful you are, my child!” In the case of this phrase, the recipient is one who, given the habit of praising himself, would seem not to have anyone to tell him what a good person or how good-looking he is. For someone displaying such behavior, it would not be uncommon to say to him: “What happened? Don’t you have a grandmother?”

Salir por un ojo de la cara (literally: Cost an eye)

This is used to say that something is very expensive. Saying “the car cost me an eye” is like saying that to buy the car I had to sell an eye. In English there’s the very anatomically similar expression of “to cost an arm and a leg.” Which of the two anatomic references do you value more?

A todo cerdo le llega su San Martín (literally: Every pig gets its San Martin’s Day):

This mysterious proverb is used to express the inevitability of fate. The expression alludes to the natural expiration all things, and, more specifically, the inevitable end of those who do evil. It turns out that, in Spain, the traditional day for the slaughter of pigs (of which, between hams, bacon and sausages, nothing goes to waist) is on November 11, and in Spain this date corresponds to St. Martin of Tours. So, when hearing on the news that a politician is convicted on corruption charges, many will say, with satisfaction: “See? Eventually, every pig gets its San Martin’s Day.” A possible equivalent saying in English might be “What goes around, comes around” or “you reap what you sow.”

Írsele a alguien la olla (literally: To lose the grip on the pot)

When people say this about a person, they mean that the person is distracted, is going through some sort of transitory alienation or has definitely lost his/her head. So, you might say (in Spain) the following: “Do you remember Michael, the guy at the office? He’s lost the grip on the pot and he’s moved to Greenland! “

These examples highlight once again the importance of localizing at the time of commissioning a translation. As on the previous occasion, I would like to remind readers of the blog you’re your comments are an ideal opportunity to compare these sayings with those of other locations, or to comment on the expressive power of the expressions I’ve included here…

To read the original Spanish post go to: