Jul
24
2014

Sayings + Expressions 3 – The Winner and the Oil

Hi there!

Today, I will go over one saying and one expression again. As always, we will start off with the saying!

Wer nicht wagt, der nicht gewinnt

Who doesn’t dare, doesn’t win (i.e. no guts, no glory)

Its origin is not really known, and this saying probably just started by use. The premise that you have to do something to achieve something is logic. That this often also involves exposing oneself to harm also makes sense. From this, wer nicht wagt, der nicht gewinnt is quickly made.

Use

This widely known saying has a clear meaning – take a risk if you want to achieve something, otherwise you will never be successful! So the next time you have to advise a good German friend that is too scared to talk to someone he or she likes, say this. The use is exactly the same as in English. Example:

Markus traut sich nicht Lisa anzusprechen, obwohl er sie wirklich mag. Daraufhin mutigte sein Freund Lars ihn an: Wer nicht wagt, der nicht gewinnt!

(Markus doesn’t dare to talk to Lisa, even though he really likes her. Thereupon his friend Lars encouraged him: Who doesn’t dare, doesn’t win!)

 

Öl ins Feuer gießen 

Pour oil into the fire (i.e. Add fuel to the fire) 

Öl ins Feuer gießen - this is what happens! (Image by Al404 at Flickr.com)

Öl ins Feuer gießen – this is what happens! (Image by Al404 at Flickr.com)

This expression already existed in Roman times. Back in those days, they had figured out the flammability of oil already. The Roman poet Horace already used this expression (oleum addere camino) in his Sermones. When you pour oil into fire, it burns even stronger. As in the English expression, it describes an act that makes a situation even more severe.

Use

The use of this expression is basically the same as in English. For example:

Die Vereinigten Staaten schicken weiter Waffen in Krisengebieten und lindern die Kämpfe dort damit nicht. Das Land gießt damit nur Öl ins Feuer.

(The United States continue to send weapons to crisis areas and do not soothen the fights there that way.  With this, the country only adds fuel to the fire.)

 

As always, if you have any suggestions for sayings or expressions – also English ones – that you want to see translated and broken down a bit, please write a comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul
23
2014

Verbos y Preposiciones: Las Diferencias

Image by Lubs Mary via Flick – http://ow.ly/zt6cU

Hay verbos y otras palabras que cambian la significación cuando vienen con preposiciones distintas. Pasamos a presentar algunos casos.

1. Deber

Debe – denota obligación. Debes estudiar mucho para la prueba.
Debe de – denota probabilidad. Creo que debo de llegar tarde.

2. Salir

Salir alcalde/presidente – ser elegido. Pedro salió alcalde del Club Playero y esperamos que realice muchas cosas.
Salir de… – dejar de serlo. Manuel salió de presidente del banco y ahora quiere descansar.

3. Dar

Dar a – entregarse con ahinco por vicio a alguna cosa. Para no perder la beca, me daré al estudio. – Desilusionado, se dio a la bebida.
Darse con uno – encontrarlo. Se dieron con Dora en la fiesta.
Darse por – considerarse en alguna situación o peligro. Ya me doy por perdido en la competición.
Darse sobre uno – acometerle con furia. El perro se dio sobre el niño y casi lo mató.
Dar tras uno – perseguir, acosar con furia o gritería. La policía da tras los que ofrecen peligro a la colectividad.

4. Hacer

Hacer una cosa – ejecutar. Mamá hizo unos ñoquis divinos.
Hacerse con una cosa – obtenerla. Me hice con el nuevo carné de conducir.
Hacerse con una persona – dominarla, convencerla. Se hizo con su hermano para que le prestara su coche.
Hacer de – representar el papel de. Ella hizo de profesora y alfabetizó a los niños pobres del barrio.
Hacer por + verbo en infinitivo – interesarse, cuidar por la ejecución. Haré por no retrasarme, te lo prometo.

5.Ir

Ir por – seguir una carrera. Mi nieto va por médico.
Ir de – vestido a la manera de. Va de payaso a la fiesta infantil.
Ir con – compañía. Voy con papá al médico.
Ir con – convenir con alguien o algo. Voy con Sergio en ese asunto.
Ir sobre alguno – seguirle de cerca, ir en su alcance. Iré sobre él para descubrir qué hace para sobrevivir.

6. Pasar

Pasar por – ser tenido como. Ese niño pasa por estudioso pero no lo es.
Pasar de – exceder en una calidad o propriedad. Mario pasa de inteligente, es genial.
Pasar sin – no necesita. Creo que podemos pasar sin coche algunos días.

7. Poner

Poner a + verbo en infinitivo – empezar a ejecutar la acción. Feliz, Soledad se puso a cantar.
Poner en + nombre – ejercer la acción del verbo a qye el nombre corresponde. No acepto que pongas en duda mis palabras. [No acepto que dudes de mis palabras.]
Poner por + nombre – valerse para lo que el nombre sifnifica, representa. El la pieza teatral ella puso por pianista. (hizo el papel de pianista)
Ponerse de + alimento – hartarse. Los niños se pusieron de hamburguesas.
Ponerse de + nombre – mancharse, llenarse de. Mis hijos se pusieron de grasa.
Ponerse con – comparar, competir. Él se pone con el más guapo del grupo.

Want more free resources to learn Spanish? Check out the other goodies we offer to help make your language learning efforts a daily habit.

Jul
22
2014

La Tempesta

A dramatic start to the week! At around seven this morning we were awoken by a tremendous tempest that roared and shook its furious fists above our heads. As I lay there in awe … I love a good storm … the though came into my mind: blog!

I had in mind a piece by Vivaldi which I thought might be called La Tempesta, but a quick search on the internet revealed that La Tempesta Del Mare by Antonio Vivaldi was not the powerful cascading music that ran through my head as I contemplated this mornings storm. In fact in the face of what was going on outside, La Tempesta Del Mare sounded positively tame. So where had I heard that incredibly stormy piece by Vivaldi? Then I remembered, the majestic summer storm from Le Quattro Stagioni (The Four Seasons).

media-Giorgione-Giorgione opere-maxi-DSC_8946
Detail from La Tempesta by Giorgione (1508). Find out more about this unusual painting later this week.

Each of Vivaldi’s seasons was originally accompanied by a sonnet. Here’s il sonetto for summer, with an anonymous translation into English. Read through it and then listen to Vivaldi’s ‘Storm’ by clicking  HERE.

Allegro non molto

Sotto dura stagion dal sole accesa
Langue l’huom, langue ‘l gregge, ed arde ‘l pino,
Scioglie il cucco la voce, e tosto intesa
Canta la tortorella e ‘l gardellino.

Zeffiro dolce spira, ma contesa
Muove Borea improvviso al suo vicino;
E piange il Pastorel, perché sospesa
Teme fiera borasca, e ‘l suo destino;

Adagio e piano – Presto e forte

Toglie alle membra lasse il suo riposo
Il timore de’ lampi, e tuoni fieri
E de mosche, e mosconi il stuol furioso:

Presto

Ah che pur troppo i suoi timor sono veri
Tuona e fulmina il cielo grandinoso
Tronca il capo alle spiche e a’ grani alteri.

 

Storm
Photo (CC) ‘Weathering the Storm’ by Nomadic Lass

Allegro non molto

Beneath the blazing sun’s relentless heat
men and flocks are sweltering, pines are scorched.
We hear the cuckoo’s voice; then sweet songs
of the turtle dove and finch are heard.

Soft breezes stir the air….
but threatening north wind sweeps them suddenly aside.
The shepherd trembles,
fearful of violent storm and what may lie ahead.

Adagio e piano – Presto e forte

His limbs are now awakened from their repose
by fear of lightning’s flash and thunder’s roar,
as gnats and flies buzz furiously around.

Presto

Alas, his worst fears were justified,
as the heavens roar and great hailstones
beat down upon the proudly standing corn.

Now you know what woke me up this morning! Find out more about Vivaldi’s Sonnets for Le Quattro Stagioni in THIS BLOG

Jul
22
2014

Pf Pf Pf… What’s up with that?

Pflanze, Pflaume, Pfau, Pferd, Pfad… All of these are words with a silent p. The combination pf always is. Some people pronounce the p, as you can hear in the recording below, but mostly you do not pronounce the p. It is just easier, but you still need to write it!

Ein Pferd! (Image by Chris Heidenreich on Flickr.com)

Ein Pferd! (Image by Chris Heidenreich on Flickr.com)

Why does this Pf exist? It all started back in the days of the Germanic people some 1000 years ago. In the so-called zweite Sprachverschiebung (second language shift), the Germanic language became even harsher. A nice example: Pfefferminz (p). This word, just like the English word, comes from the Latin mentha piperita. As you can see, the Germanic languages switched around the words, lost the -ita and silenced down the -a of mentha. And in both German and English, the became an i, and the became an e. This was all the change English went through, and the result is peppermint. However, the German language also went through the zweite Sprachverschiebung, where the became a pf and in words also ff. The became a (t)z – and the result: Pfefferminz.

So this process, which seems quite convoluted, brought about this strange Pf sound in German. There is no rule when to use the Pf, but most words that start with the f-sound, are written with Pf. But yes, there are many words starting with too: Fall, Ferne, Festung, Funke, Fußball. As you can see: it is just a matter of learning how to write it. The good thing is that you can always pronounce it as an f.

Of course, there are also words where pf is in the middle of the word: bekämpfen, Kopf, Hopfen, Kupfer. As you can hear in the recording below, here you do pronounce the p. ALWAYS.

 

Jul
21
2014

Le Fromage: The World of French Cheese (Part 2)

Image by Jennifer on Flickr

Image by Jennifer on Flickr

In the last post we learned about two of the most famous French cheeses: Camembert and Roquefort. Today, we will look at two more cheeses that have earned a following by cheese connoisseurs à travers le monde (around the world).

Brie

Brie is perhaps le fromage Français le plus connu (the most well known French cheese) in the United States. Along with Camembert, Brie can be purchased in most supermarchés (supermarkets) around the country. Many people may confuse Brie with Camembert because it looks similar. However, both cheeses have distinct flavors that set them apart.

Like Roquefort, Brie has been around for centuries and even gained the approval of le Roi Charlemagne (King Charlemagne) in the late 8th century.  And it was one of Louis XVI’s favorite cheeses, lending credence to its royal title “Le Roi des Fromages” (The King of Cheeses), a moniker later earned during un concours (a contest) put on by Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, le Premier Ministre de France au début du 19ème siècle (France’s Prime Minister at the beginning of the 19th century).

The most famous Brie comes from the town of Meaux in the Seine-et-Marne region near Paris. Like Camembert, Brie has a kind of yellowish color, is very creamy and should be consumed with bread. It works wonderfully as a dessert cheese accompanied by fruit and paired with Champagne.

Chèvre

Chèvre is another popular and widely consumed cheese. The word chèvre means goat in French and, as you might have already guessed, this cheese is made entirely of lait de chèvre (goat’s milk).

Goat cheese is characterized by its stark white appearance that turns jaune (yellow) as it ages. If you wait too long, it begins to take on a flavor similar to savon (soap) along with une odeur puante (a smelly odor) that can be rather unpleasant. Chèvre is an acquired taste and it can be a little fort (strong) when you first try it, but give it a little time and you’ll begin to appreciate its more pungent flavor and aroma.

Unlike Brie, Camembert or even Roquefort, Chèvre comes in different formes (shapes) that you might not expect. Pyramids, cylinders and little even little cubes will make you double-check the label to make sure you’re buying chèvre. Chèvre is one of the few cheeses equally at home on your salad, your pizza or in your omelette. Un verre de vin rouge ou blanc avec un morceau de pain et un peu de Chèvre, et peut-être quelques olives (a glass of red or white wine with a piece of bread and a little Chèvre, and maybe a few olives) makes for an excellent little repas (meal).