Henry and Marta – Body Parts (eyes, lips and arms)

Marta:    Hello Henry, you are looking a little pale today. Could it have been the milanesas that did not sit well with you?

Henry:   No, actually I am upset because I was looking up idioms for our body part meeting and I ran across typical prejudice against South America and I thought you would be ticked off Marta.

Marta:   Try me, Henry. By the way, I liked the idea of our “body part meeting”…

Henry:   Well, it is even upsetting to me, now that I have been here long enough. Look. I was looking for uses for “the arm of the law” and I found this example: “He fled to South America hoping to escape the arm of the law.”  Insulting isn’t it?

Marta:   I’ll be honest with you, Henry. As much as it saddens me, there are too many cases in history that would explain that example. I am not happy about it, of course, but the law in South America doesn’t exactly have the best reputation. I think, in this case, it was made worse by the escaped Nazis and other outlaws, thus your example. In castellano it is not too common but you would also say “el brazo de la ley”, I guess.

Henry:   Perhaps, that could be it. We also have an example provided by Ana,  who commented on a previous post. She mentioned an expression in Spanish, excuse my pronunciation “genio y figura hasta la sepultara”. She suggested it would be equivalent to “stiff upper lip”.

Marta:   I did look it up after Ana’s comment. “Genio y figura hasta la sepultura” means you have traits that last a lifetime and that you cannot change. It is related to “stiff upper lip” but not exactly an equivalent. Here is what I found for “stiff upper lip”: It is typical of the British. Perhaps British/Indian in origin and is descriptive of a lack of emotion, or at least visible emotion. Apparrently it comes from the novellist PG Wodehouse in 1924, or at least it was popularized by him.

Henry:   So what would be the best translation for it?

Marta:   I had a boyfriend who played rugby and he always said “hay que apretar los dientes y seguir adelante”. But other possibilities include “hacer de tripas corazón” or simply “no inmutarse” o “guardar la compostura”.

Henry:   That was quite detailed, thank you, Marta, I hope Ana is pleased with our little query.  Let´s pick another body part.

Marta:   No, let’s stick to arms today, Henry.  I have “It cost an arm and a leg”. In castellano we would say “me salió un ojo y la mitad del otro”. Apparently we value the second eye more than a leg.

Henry:    Alright let’s finish the arms then. I have “give your right arm”, “up in arms” and “at arm’s length”.

Marta:   The first one is the same, “dar el brazo derecho” as in “daría mi brazo derecho para tener las piernas que tiene ésa que está parada ahí”.

Henry:   Where? Who? Which way are you looking?

Marta:   Now, now, let’s focus here, Henry. “Up in arms” makes me think of  “de armas llevar” but you are “up in arms about something” such as “she was up in arms about the new office policy” when you are really angry. I wonder if it comes from waving your arms around. But if it is someone who gets angry easily, is straightforward and willing to take action you would say she is “de armas llevar”.

Henry:   So somehow we started talking about arms and ended with arms as in weapons?

Marta:   Yes, funny it seems they are related. Weapons, if you think about it, are an extension of the arm. So arms up when angry and arms in hand when angry. The last one is “at arm’s length” and, I´ll tell you in a blink of an eye, that would be “guardar distancia”. I hope I never have to do that to you, Henry.

Henry:   Do what? All this talk about body parts…

Marta: I hope I never have to keep you at arm’s length.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ana O'Reilly
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 16:55:06

    Mira vos, aprendi algo nuevo 🙂
    “hay que apretar los dientes y seguir adelante” grin and bear it? o como dice mi marido “lie back and think of England” jaja!

    Aca hay romance en ciernes?


  2. dialogos inventados
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 17:12:03

    “Lie back and think of England”. You should copyright it. En cuanto a Marta y Henry, veremos cómo sigue la historia 🙂


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