This is the brain on multilingualism. We try to keep all our languages going, and the more we practice, the more they wrestle for space. The eternal question: how can we keep our languages in good shape while welcoming new ones? Should we just sit back and enjoy the learning process, while being cognizant of our neuroplasticity?
This lovely illustration is available as print, sticker and further stationery on the Expat Gone Foreign Store! ✨
Let’s delve into the fascinating realm of idiomatic expressions once again with a collection of Spanish animal idioms. ¡Vamos allá!
If someone behaves in a peculiar or crazy manner, it’s safe to say that he or she “está como una cabra”. This idiom literally means “to be like a goat” and originated among farmers. If you have ever observed goats derping around, it’s easy to see how aloof they are.
The expression “estar como pez en el agua” literally means “to be like fish in the water” and is used to indicate that people are in their element. Think about it: fish feel best in their natural watery habitats.
“Estar como un pulpo en un garaje”, literally “to be like an octopus in a garage”, means being lost or feeling out of place. It’s the counterpart of “estar como pez en el agua”. Think about it, an octopus in a garage: must be pretty confusing to be surrounded by all kinds of weirdly shaped tools and discarded junk.
The idiom “tener pájaros en la cabeza”, literally “to have birds in your head”, doesn’t mean that these flying creatures built a nest inside your skull. It refers to someone who is a bit naive and has rather unrealistic ideas, expectations or goals. Although this expression has mildly negative connotations, daydreamers are happy to embrace their birds in the head, and coined the saying “Prefiero tener pájaros en la cabeza que vivir en las jaulas de vuestra mente” 1.
“Ser un pez gordo”, literally “to be one fat fish”, means being the boss or the person in charge who makes the decisions and holds the power. Other interlinguistic equivalents of “the fat fish” are “das hohe Tier” (the big animal) in German or “Важная птица” (the important bird) in Russian. You don’t want to mess around with the idiomatic fauna!
The idiom “trabajar como un burro”, literally “to work like a donkey”, means to work extremely hard. The hardworking relative in English would be the horse or the dog.
Eso es todo, amigos. If you enjoyed this post, check out these funny Spanish food idioms.
Every Mediterranean person knows those Friday afternoons in which you spontaneously decide to grab a beer at the bar around the corner, and somehow you end up in a massive party of a friend who knows a friend who knows a friend, and it turns into one of those legendary evenings to remember. Well, that scenario could hardly happen among Northerners. Take Germans, for instance. They make good coworkers, but when it comes to social life… they are as spontaneous as a Swiss train timetable.
Somewhere in a Spanish-speaking rainforest, the mischievous fauna spends the day messing around with personal pronouns.
Fun fact: the name of this bird comes from the Tupi word “tukana”, an extinct Tupian language that was spoken by the native Tupi people of Brazil. It made its way into many languages through the Portuguese “tucano”.
Would you like to find out more about the Spanish pronouns? Check out the Linguiputians’ masterpiece: Tú, usted, vosotros!