19 ago. 2011

Idioms from Piglia

Here are some idioms from Ricardo Piglia's novel Plata quemada.

de mala muerte (un bar de, un boliche de) [sordid dive, seedy bar]
vivir en la babia (estar en la babia) [living in Lala land]
ver todo negro [to see everything black, to be pessimistic]
en cámara lenta (a cámara lenta) [in slow motion]
de golpe [suddenly]
a todo tren [full speed ahead]
perder la cabeza [lose one's head]
un dominó de caídas en cadena [domino effect]
cortinas de humo [smokescreen]
jugarse las pelotas [to put one's balls on the line]
sangre fría [cold blood, calmness in violent situations]
hacer la vista gorda [to look the other way]

These are idioms and not merely collocations because they have at least some metaphorical dimension, and are somewhat less variable. You can move in slow motion even if there is no camera present. Making a "fat" look has nothing to do with literal meanings of "gordo." There is no literal smoke involved in a "cortina de humo." An idiom in Spanish may or may not have a ready equivalent, where a literal translation also produces an English idiom, like "losing one's head."