Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hold your horses

Colloquial phrases are much easier to write about when they come about naturally, like this one I wrote today:

Ok ok hold your horses. Not sure if anyone else has pointed this out, but if you are referring to March 29th, TODAY would be the 6th business day. And they said 6 to 10. So nothing to fret about yet.

(I had been responding to someone worried about the fact that a package had not arrived here to Buenos Aires as soon as he had hoped.)

Hold your horses means "hold on, be patient."

Did you know? In the 1800s, it used to be spelled "hold you hosses" since hoss was the slang spelling of horse. Read more here.

Photo credit: Ian MacDonaldLink

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's raining HAIL!

Amazing how yesterday's hail decided to fall at 6:00 on the dot, don't you think? Just as all of us were leaving work.

What size hail did you see?

I read that some of it was up to golf ball-size.

What other objects do we use to compare hail to? I found:

football (That's some big hail).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Frog vs. Toad

2 phrases in English:

frog in your throat - a feeling of hoarseness or a lump in one's throat - I feel like I'm getting a frog in my throat when I have to speak in public.

ugly as a toad (no explanation needed) and it is not a phrase that plays by the rules of "If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all."

Image credit given to http://its.susd.org/k6/1st/the_life_of_frogs.htm where you can find more info on frogs and toads if you're interested!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Gas Fitter

So, I learned a word today. In English. Since the first time I ever dealt with gas heaters or appliances was when I moved to Buenos Aires, I had never thought about the word gasista in English. Today when I wrote an email telling work that I would be a little late because I was waiting for the ________ (gasista), I had to look up the translation. (Otherwise I would have just said "gas man.") And here it is:

gas fitter

If you ever need a gas fitter who fixes ovens or stoves, I have one to recommend! (That's not him in the picture, by the way. That guy lives in Australia.)

Link to an article if you want to read more about gas fitters in Britain

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Paperwork and Errands and Trámites, oh my!

We all know that trámite is a word used LOTS here in Argentina. Countless times I have gotten the question, "How do you say trámite?"

Trámite has many translations including procedure, step, stage, formality, etc. But the way we hear it used most is, "Tengo que hacer algunos trámites."

The translation in this case is not literal. There are several sentences that work:

I have some business to take care of.

I have some matters to attend to.

I have some errands to run.

Choose any of the above and your trámite will make sense in English!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Explaining Explain

Yes, I need to explain this. Explain is a tough word for Spanish speakers. It trips up even the most advanced of speakers.

I see this type of sentence a lot:

Incorrect: They can explain us what sources to use.

Correct: They can explain what sources to use.

Incorrect: Can you explain me this?

Correct: Can you explain this (to me)?

Fortunately, the mistake is very easy to fix!

The structure is ALWAYS:

explain + direct object (explain what?)

And the indirect object is often optional:

explain + direct object (explain what?) + indirect object (to whom?)

There are more verbs like this as well. I found some more examples here:

Existe un grupo de verbos ditransitivos que solamente permiten la configuración Complemento directo seguido por el complemento indirecto: donate, push, carry, explain, suggest, describe, take.

donate money to the museum (y no: donate the museum money)

carry the baby to the doctor (y no: carry the doctor the baby)

suggest a good restaurant to me (y no: suggest me a good restaurant)

explain your decision to the director (y no: explain the director your decision)

describe your friend to us (y no: describe us your friend)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What a rip-off!

What a great term. rip-off. Negative for sure, but great nonetheless.

A rip-off (also a verb) is "a product or service that is overpriced or of poor quality." It can also refer to theft or exploitation. Basically, if you think you've been taken advantage of in a financial sense, you can call it a rip-off.

Lots of people feel like they're getting ripped off when they open a bag of chips or cookies:

If you buy something and get home only to realize it doesn't work, you have been ripped off. If you buy something and it breaks 3 days later, it was a rip-off.

I often feel ripped-off in restaurants here in Buenos Aires.

On my last vacation I took a day tour that afterwards felt like a rip-off for the price I paid.

What's the worst rip-off you've ever experienced?