“De policías y ladrones”
Having to do with spies, assessins, mistery, intrigue, spies, police, secret agents, and the like where secret plots and schemes are crafted so as to get a dark goal.
Rumor has it that, as seen in the movie and video games series Assassins Creed, in medieval times, there was a secret group of thieves, spies andlers who acted as mercenaries, selling their services to those who had the money and the power to pay for them. These mercenaries were opposed by secret agents under the orders of his/her majesty. These, using fight-fire-with-fire techniques, were encharged of keeping the kingdom, royal possessions and the lives of those in the crown safe. In a similar way, in the 1600’s, theater goers all around Europe, especially in Spain, enjoyed the performance of traveling puppeteers who went all around the country amazing viewers with their fantastic representations of knights, duel fighters, heroes who saved princesses from the evil of desires of baddies who kept their identities secret by covering their heads and bodies with cloaks. Additionally, these evildoers carried small knives called daggers under their garments to be used at any needed moment. These kind of theatrical performances were called, cloak and dagger plays. Nowadays, this term is used to talk about all the James-Bond-like movies, novels and plots.
John: Helen, why are you angry?
Helen: Oh, John. It is my boss. He is always telling me not to talk to anybody about office issues for the sake of keeping the secrecy of the department activities safe.
John: Do you deal with very important matters that have to be kept secret?
Helen: No, not at all and that is the point. It gets me mad that I cannot talk with anyone around the company because my boss gets the feeling that I sharing secret information with others. What secrets can the Public Relations department involve. In fact, it is our duty is to inform and not ot desinform others about what the company does.
John: Oh, Helen. Chill out! I think you are exaggerating a little.
Helen: Exaggerating did you say? Just take this example for you to understand how obsessed my boss is with this issue. Our meetings are either very early in the morning or very late at night when nobody is in the company but us. We have to turn off our cellphones and put them in a safe before each meeting. We cannot take notes about anything mentioned in our gatherings. I am sick and tired of this cloak-and-dagger way to work!
Not to hesitate in doing something, especially once you have made your decision to do it. Not to waste time to take action when trying to achieve a goal, especially once you have recognized all conditions favor you.
In the 1300´s Geoffrey Chaucer used this expression after seeing that blacksmiths used to hammer red hot pieces of metal so as to shape them. Then, he extrapolated the literal use of this idiom to those situations in which a decision was to be made in the heat of the moment so that a person could take advantage of any given situation once it appeared.
-They are offering me a scholarship to study in England.
-Wow! When are you leaving?
-I don´t know if I should take it. I first want to take English classes in order to improve my level before attempting such a feat.
-What? Are you crazy? But you speak English proficiently.
-I don´t think so. I guess I can still learn more.
-You know what? if you don´t take advantage of this great opportunity now that it is there, you will regret it the rest of your life.
-Really, do you think so?
-Of course, it is now or never. You might never in your life have a chance like this again. Strike while the iron is still hot!
“Agarrarse del chongo
To quarrel about trivial unimportant things. To waste time arguing about irrelevant matters.
It is said that William Shakespeare used a similar expression in one of his writings in the 1600´s. In those times, it was thought that splitting hairs would be utterly impossible since a hair is such a fine thing that no instrument available at that time could be used to perform such a fine detailed action.
-Oh, hun. This is such a special day.
-Really? What do you mean?
-What? Don´t you remember?
-Oh, yes. It was the day when we met one year ago. How could I forget?
-Do you still remeber what time it was?
-I remember that it was in the afternoon.
-Yeah, but what time?
-You see? You don´t care about important mattters in our relationship!
-Here we go, splitting hairs once again!
“Chapado a la antigua / anticuado / estar cerrado
A person who avoids adventurous activities, who sticks to their old beliefs, passtimes and routinary traditional lifestyle.
This idiom was coined in the 1700´s to refer to those people who feel comfortable with their traditional old beliefs and creedence and would hardly ever accept new ideas, take risks or change even a single thing from their traditional old-fashioned way of life. If we took a cane of any other similar thing and stuck it into the mud, when the latter is still wet, it would easily be removed. But what if the mud dried? It would be really difficult to remove the stick. The same happens to those who stick to their own old-fashioned ideas. It would absolutely be hard. It would take a tremendous effort to convince them to stay apart from their own ideas and lifestyles.
-What happened to you? You look as if you had seen the death!
-Not exactly but almost there. The thing is that my parents are going on vacation to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.
-And? What´s the problem with that?
-The problem is that they have asked my grandmother to stay with us to supposedly take care of us. It will be horrible.
-Why? She is a lovely person.
-You don´t know her. She wants us not to watch TV or play videogames. She asks us to go to bed at 8pm and to top it off, she wants us to go to church with her every single afternoon. She is so horrible.
-Have you ever tried to talk to her and convince her to change her manners?
-Hundreds! Thousands of times! But she would never listen to us. She is just a stick-in-the-mud!
“Aguantar vara / mantenerse firme / amachinarse
To stay firm and stick to your ideas and beliefs when confronted to opposition no matter how strong this could be.
In the 1700´s, soldiers who were encharged of the guns or cannon posts were given the command to stay in their positions no matter how difficult or how hard the situation could be. A coward would run in the face of danger but a brave soldier would firmly stick to their guns even when being seiged by the enemy. Nowadays, remembering these heroic soldiers who would never run away and abandon their duties, anytime that we confront opposition to our believes, we have to scare our fears away and just stick to our guns.
-I am very nervous. Today, I have a meeting with our CEO to present our proposal for the new marketing campaign.
-What´s the problem? I know of the quality of your work and I am pretty sure you will propose something good for the company.
-Yes, but the proposal implies changing the logo of the company in order to give a more modern image to the world and…You know how the CEO is, so traditional, so…fair and square…
-Yes, I know what you mean, he always sticks to his guns! But you have to do the same, fight the fire with fire, stick to your own guns. Show your ideas with enthusiasm. Keep your chin up and I am pretty sure you will convince him.
“Encontrar el punto medio / ni tú, ni yo
To get to an optimum solution that satisfies both parties involved in a problem. A person “A” wants something, but “B” wants something different; the happy médium satisfies both “A” and “B”.
In his theory about virtue, Aristotle recommends that when any given person finds themselves between two extreme situations, which he called vices, they should live according to the so-called principle of the happy medium. This happy médium is what made a person virtuous. If we consider, then, that striking is hitting upon something, we could think of this idiom as if we were about to throw a dart or an arrow and we have to hit right in the middle of the target.
I wanted to watch the Worldcup final game, whereas my wife wished to go to visit her mother. After quarreling for a while, we stroke a happy médium; we all went to a restaurant to have lunch and I and the kids could watch the game on their big screen they have. It was awesome and everybody had a wonderful time!
Aristóteles identifica la “virtud” (areté) con el “hábito” (héksis) de actuar según el “justo término medio” entre dos actitudes extremas, a las cuales denomina “vicios”. De este modo, decimos que el hombre es virtuoso cuando su voluntad ha adquirido el “hábito” de actuar “rectamente”, de acuerdo con un “justo término medio” que evite tanto el exceso como el defecto.
“Es lo mismo , que lo mesmo / es junto con pegado
The two things that we are talking about are exactly the same, the only difference is the words we use to refer to them but these words are just paraphrases of an equal situation. A similar expression is much of a muchness.
Sometimes we have a quarrel because we are talking about two, in appearance, different things but if we analyze them closely, we will see that in reality we are talking about the same thing but presented in a different way, with different words, in a different perspective but in the end, they are exactly the same thing. If we say, “six of one,” it equals six. If we say, “five plus one,” it is six. If we say, “half of the other,” it is six.
I have always thought that my boss exploits us. We always Works long hours for the same pay, and that is an abuse. Of course, my boss doesn´t have the same opinión, he says that he has reckoned the great impact that our work might have on society, that we are indisputably the best workers in the labor market, that the world has to know about our great feats, etc, etc, etc. He says that it is not exploitation, it is contributing to the betterment of the world, but to me it is six of one and half a dozen of the other.
“Predicar con el ejemplo
When you put your money where your mouth is, you do what you have said you were going to. So, you are a person who is trust-worthy and whatever comes together with your words; your money, your reputation, etc. will be safe.
This expression has two possible origins: one from Ireland, where people use to mention this to those who are boasting about achieving fantastic feats so as to mean, “I want to see what you say becomes a reality.” The second possible origin is from poker. In this game, gamblers use to boast or show off about the hand they are having so as to confuse the opponents. So, if you have a good hand and you want to scare or warn your opponent to be careful with what they say, you tell them to put their money where their mouths are. A similar expression is “Put up or shut up!”
-OMG, I have put my foot in my mouth!
-What do you mean?
-Do you remember I told the principal that I could speak Japanese?
-Yes, but I know you, and I know you were just kidding.
-But the principal took it seriously and next week a board of Japanese educators is coming to visit the school, and the principal asked me to help with the translations.
-You see? You and your big mouth always get you into trouble! For that matter, I have always told you to put your money where your mouth is.
“La gota que derramó el vaso
This idiom, which is usually shortened for “this was the last Straw…”, means that someone, who is usually a resistant person, has reached the limit of their endurance and collapses or breaks into a mad streak.
Being the original 1677 expression, “the last feather that broke the horse´s back”, this expression was originally intended to mean that cargo animals which are well known for having a high limit of endurance, would get their backs broken if even a tiny light thing as an extra feather was added. It was Charles Dickens who, in the 1800´s changed this expression into “The Straw that broke the camel´s back”. If any person who is well known for having a really high endurance, is burden with more and more trouble or stress, that person would finally collapse.
After being bullied for some months, Johnny decided to take Tae Kwon Do classes where he was taught that violence was never a resource to resort to. One day, while being bullied, he mentally repeated his mantra “The wise man never resorts to violence.” But after a while, he just shouted, “Enough is enough, This is the last straw that broke the camel´s back,” and started kicking everybody until they beeged for piety!
“Hacerla o morir en el intento
To fail or succeed in one enterprise by your own effort without the help of anybody else, all by ourselves.
Geoffrey Chaucer, one of the most famous English poets, used the expression “float or swim” in his writings. In medieval times, women who were suspected to be witches were thrown into deep waters. If they drowned and died, they were considered innocent but if they floated, people thought they were being helped by the devil and they were burned guilty of withcraft. In modern times, we say that when we take a new venture, we have to options: Whether we can succeed or fail. If we succeed, it is like swimming. If we fail, it is like sinking.
I have to take my graduation test next week. I have studied quite a lot. I think I am ready to take the exam but it is going to be so difficult that nothing guarantees I still can make it. It is a matter of sink or swim.