Aquí os dejo hoy una pequeña historia en clave de humor, llena de modismos en Spanglish, que me publicó Sur in English en 1990. Si os apetece y tenéis un rato libre, podéis reemplazar estos modismos disparatados por modismos ingleses auténticos. Si se os resiste alguno de ellos, no os preocupéis, podéis mirar la clave al final de la historia. En cualquier caso, el objetivo no es otro que pasar un buen rato, a la vez que se repasan unos cuantos idioms:
ENGLISH FROM THE STICK OR A CURIOUS CASE OF SPANGLISH
My good friend Pepe, who is very fond of idioms, teaches English at a small school in the mountains not far from El Palo. His school as he himself says is nothing of the other Thursday, but I’d like to tell you about something that he has invented: what he calls Stick English, or English from The Stick. So that you can have a good idea what this sort of English is like, I’ll take the liberty to make free use of it in my article today.
For if the flies and to avoid any misunderstandings, I’d better tell you right away that Pepe is a good professional and the English he teaches in his school has nothing or almost nothing to do with this “stick” variety that he uses mainly in his spare time and with his friends. He’s also an honest, straightforward chap who likes to call bread, bread, and wine, wine or, in other words, somebody who likes things clear and chocolate thick. As I have already said, his school is a bit of a long way away and isolated, or to put it in his own jargon, in the fifth pinetree, where Christ lost his cap, and since he lives alone, not having yet found his half-orange (he insists on marrying a virgin, for he hates to be plate of second table), at weekends he occasionally comes to town to toss a white hair to the wind and have a little cup with his chums, and it is not all that strange for him to end up holding a good hake in the early hours of the morning.
Pepe gets on very well with his pupils, but if there’s something that gives him one hundred kicks in the stomach it is for them to do him the small ball: he really detests flattery in all its forms. He’s a bit short-sighted, or as he says, he sees less than Joe Milk, so when he suspects his students are up to something or when he smells there’s a cat locked in somewhere, he can’t help becoming a little fly and may even climb up the walls, because if there’s something he can’t swallow it is to be led to the orchard or taken for a lily.
At fifty-eight or so, he’s quite fit and healthy, but he’s a bit of a hypochondriac, and a few months ago, when he was ill and thought he was going to die, he had a permanent knot in the throat. Thank goodness, he got over it and now he feels himself very well again and keeps saying he’s not finished yet and has rope for long.
Economically speaking, like most teachers, he’s not very well off and is always at the fourth question, but as he’s not one to walk on branches, nor has he got hairs on the tongue, the other day he wrapped the blanket around his head and went straight to the headmaster’s office to ask him for a rise, but as he later told his colleagues, who had been eagerly waiting for him outside to see if he’d had any success, he had the painful impression he had been talking to the wall all the time, and the message he seemed to receive was that he would have to wait till the frogs grew hair to get his rise.
On the whole, you may come to the conclusion that my friend lacks a screw, or is as mad as a watering can, but all I can say is that we make good crumbs together and I always have a good laugh talking to him, which is something to be grateful for these days, what with the war in Syria and the price of petrol going up every fortnight.
And now, the bombshell: if you promise to keep it secret, I can tell you that I know from very good ink that the passage above is the one that will be set for the university entrance exam. Candidates will simply be asked to re-write it replacing the expressions in bold by authentic English idioms. A hard nut to crack, don’t you think? Well, no problem, in case they have trouble with some of the idioms, I’m willing to give them the key in one of the next issues of Sur in English. I don’t know if they’ll pass their exam, but as Pepe would have it, I’m sure they’ll spend it bomb.
Reading comprehension questions
a.- Who do you think the narrator of the story is?
b.- Is Pepe real or fictitious?
c.- What does the narrator mean by English from The Stick?
d.- Does Pepe enjoy a good health?
e.- Does Pepe earn a lot of money?
f.- Do you think Pepe works at a state school or at a private one? What makes you think so?
g.- What image of Pepe does the narrator convey to the reader?
h.- What qualities do you think a good teacher should have?
English idioms alluded to in the story
nothing to write home about – nada
otro jueves del
just in case – por si las moscas
to call a spade a spade – llamar al pan, pan y al vino, vino
my name’s John Blunt – a mí me gustan las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso
miles from anywhere/at the back of beyond – en el quinto pino/donde Cristo dio las tres voces/perdió la gorra
someone’s better half – la media naranja de alguien
to play second fiddle – ser plato de segunda mesa
to paint the town red – echar una canita al aire
to have a drink – tomarse una copa
to get pissed – agarrar una buena merluza
to rub sb up the wrong way/to be like a kick in the teeth – dar cien patadas/sentar
una patada en el estómago como
to soft-soap sb/to butter sb up/to toady to sb – hacer la pelota/pelotilla
to be as blind as a bat – no ver ni tres en un burro/ver menos que Pepe Leches
to smell a rat – haber gato encerrado, ponerse mosca
to go up the wall/to hit the roof/the ceiling –subirse por las paredes
can’t stand – no tragar
to lead sb up the garden path/to take sb for a ride – llevarse a alguien al huerto
to take sb for a sucker – tomar por lila
to have a lump in the throat – tener un nudo en la garganta
to feel well – sentirse bien
not to be over the hill - no estar acabado, tener cuerda para rato
to be broke – estar a la cuerta pregunta, estar tieso
to beat about the bush – andarse con rodeos
not to mince one’s words – no tener pelos en la lengua
to throw caution to the wind – liarse la manta a la cabeza
to flog a dead horse – hablar con la pared
till the cows come home – hasta que las ranas crien pelo
to have a screw loose – faltar un tornillo
to be as mad as a hatter/a March hare – estar como una cabra
to get on well with sb/to hit it off – hacer buenas migas con alguien
to get it straight from the horse’s mouth/to know sth on good authority – saber algo de buena tinta
to have a whale of a time – pasarlo bomba