It's time for a bit of slang today. In Mexican Spanish there are certain phrases called "modismos"(moh-DEEZ-mohs) that cannot be translated literally and you need to learn what a phrase means in total context and not just word for word. One example would be the phrase "echar de menos". The verb "echar" literally means "to throw" as in "to throw out" and "de menos" means "less" or "wanting" or "missing". Taken as an entire phrase or "modismo" the phrase "echar de menos" means "to miss someone".
Te voy a echar de menos.
I am going to miss you.
Te echaré de menos.
I will miss you.
Another interesting phase is "dormir a pierna suelta". Taken apart word for word, "dormir" is "to sleep", "pierna" means "leg", and suelta means "loose". Often "dormir a pierna suelta" is translated as "to sleep like a log" but that is not entirely correct because to "to sleep like a log" would be "dormir como un tronco". A better translation would be "to sleep soundly" because "dormir a pierna suelta" give the impression of sleeping very well with arms and legs extended all over as opposed to sleeping fretfully rolled up in a tight ball.
Esa noche dormí a pierna suelta y no oí nada.
That night I slept very soundly and I didn't hear anything.
Anoche dormí a pierna suelta y no me enteré de nada.
Last night I slept very soundly and I wasn't aware of anything.
So...as long as we are talking about sleeping, how would you say that you couldn't sleep? You could just say:
No pude dormir anoche.
I couldn't sleep last night.
Or...if you wanted to use a phrase similar to the English phrase "I couldn't sleep a wink" you could use the modismo "pegar las pestañas" meanig "to glue eyelashes shut".
No pude pegar las pestañas en toda la noche.
I couldn´t sleep a wink all night.
On the other hand...if you were "burning the midnight oil" you would use the modismo "quemarse las pestañas" or "burning the eyelashes" as in:
Anoche me estuve quemando las pestañas estudiando español.
Last night I burned the midnight oil studying Spanish.
But...what would you say if you want to take a nap? You could simply say "Voy a dormir una siesta" meaning "I amgoing to take a nap". Or...you could dress it up a bit with a modismo as in:
Voy a echar una pestañada.
I'm going to take a little nap. (I am going to shut my eyelashes for a bit.)
Voy a echar un coyotito.
I am going to take a quick little nap. (Note: "coyotito comes from the word "coyote" because coyotes are nocturnal animals that sleep only a few minutes at a time during the day.)
Voy a echar una jetita.
I am going to take a snooze. (Note: "jetita" comes from the word "jeta" meaning "mug face" or "slack face", or in other words the face of someone who is sleeping deeply.)
If you wake up a little crabby and woozy, and swollen faced from your nap you can say:
Me quedé bien jetón.
I am still half asleep and woozy.
Here is another modismo on a different subject. In English, when we have to walk somewhere, we say we went by "shank's mare" or "shank's pony" or we had to "hoof it". In Spanish they use the woud "pata" which means "hoof" or "paw" as in "andar a pata".
Voy a andar a pata.
I am going to walk. (I am going to hoof it.)
No tengo ni coche, ni moto, ni bicicleta, ni dinero para tomar un camión así que tengo que andar a pata a todos lados.
I have neither car, nor motorcycle, nor bicycle, nor money to take a bus so I have to hoof it everywhere.
That's about it for today except for a reminder that if you want to be hip you have to keep up with new phrases in Spanish just like you do in English. The latest modismo that I learned is "ñami ñami" (NYAH-mee NYA-mee). The word "ñami" means "milk" or "to milk" in the language of the Guarani people who are an indigenous people from South America's interior (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia). Paraguayan Guarani is actually an official language of Paraguay. As I understand it, the youth of Chile started using the word "ñami" to describe a sexy looking young lady in a manner similar to how Mexican males sometimes use the word "mamacita" to mean the same. In Mexico the word "ñami" has taken on the meaning of anything delicious or "yummy" especially when it is repeated twice as in "ñami ñami" (or "yum-yum").
Ese plato de fresas con crema parece ñami ñami.
That plate of strawberries with cream looks yummy.
Ah, fresas con crema...ñami ñami.
Ah, strawberries with cream...yum-yum.
One final word. Modismos can add color to your Spanish and be lots of fun but you must memorize them carefully, practice them first with friends who can correct you if you go astray, and you should be judicious in their use. Go ahead and enjoy them but be careful.
- ► 2016 (34)
- ► 2015 (8)
- ► 2013 (15)
- ► 2012 (20)
- ▼ 2011 (37)
- ► 2010 (72)
- ► 2009 (140)
- ► 2008 (116)