12/5/13

translating idioms: importance of the context

When translating an idiom, the context in which it's said is all important. The Spanish idiom 'ponerse las botas', for example, has a different translation in English in each of the following sentences:

- Se ha puesto las botas vendiendo juguetes chinos - he's made a pile selling Chinese toys.

- se puso las botas metiendo tabaco rubio de contrabando en el país - he lined his pockets smuggling Virginia tobacco into the country.

- se puso las botas comiendo gambas en el banquete de bodas - he stuffed himself with prawns at the wedding reception.

- ayer salí con mi novia y nos pusimos las botas en el asiento trasero de mi coche -I went out with my girlfriend yesterday and we engaged in heavy petting on the back seat of my car.

The same thing can be said of 'sentar como un tiro':

- la lasaña me sentó como un tiro - the lasagna disagreed with me.

- me sentó como un tiro que mi amigo Kevin saliese con mi novia - I was really miffed that my friend Kevin went out with my girlfriend.

- ese peinado te sienta como un tiro -  you look terrible on that hairdo.

In the same way 'dar calabazas' can be interpreted in two different ways:

- me declaré a Brenda, pero me dio calabazas - I proposed to Brenda, but she turned me down.

- el profe de mates me ha dado calabazas otra vez - the maths teacher has flunked me again.

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