Linguistic Amusements

One of the most enjoyable parts of learning a language is always finding out the odd-to-foreign-ears idiomatic expressions.

A few amusing idioms and words: 
(Spanish — literal translation — English equivalent)

  • no necesita abuela — he doesn’t need a grandmother — someone who brags a lot
  • salir de Guatamala y entrar en Guatapeor — leaving Guatamala (mala = bad) and entering Guatapeor (peor = worse) — out of the frying pan and into the fire
  • me importa un pimiento/rabano — I don’t give a pepper/radish — I don’t give a damn
  • no tiene dos dedos de frenta — he doesn’t have two fingers of forehead — he’s stupid
  • su novia le dio calabezas — his girlfriend gave him squashes — his girlfriend dumped him
  • aqui hay un gato encerrado — there is a cat imprisoned/closed in here — here, there is more than meets the eye
  • patoso — like a duck — clumsy
  • people like the pun between O’Bush (referring to our illustrious president) and obus (a type of WWII bomb)
  • an “old maid” can be referred to as “soggy rice” (i.e., she’s been left too long)

Everywhere we went, we found truly awful translations into English (when there were any at all). I’m pretty sure that some signs were the direct output of a computer translator because frequently they made no sense at all. If we were a bit more entrepreneurial, we would have figured out how to make a few euros fixing those!

Restaurant menu translations were usually good for a laugh or two.

English translations taken from Spanish menus:

  • slight of calf (menudo de ternera) — so much harder than slight of hand
  • clams to the sailor’s blouse (??)
  • tunafish of tuna
  • mere muffled (mero rebozado) — a type of fish
  • sky bacon (tocino de cielo) — a dessert, or even, “materialized with sky bacon”
  • red meat casserole with garrison looking face to face (?)
  • paella mixed together to hermit (?)
  • pijotas fried scented broom (?)
  • roasted whole with ham (toast with ham)
  • agree or not food beverage of the street (one can’t bring in food or beverage from outside)

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