5 Spanish Sayings and Their English Equivalents

Great translation captures the true meaning of something in the target language while also keeping it accessible and relatable for the reader. This is especially true for Spanish sayings and their English equivalents!

One of my most popular blog posts has been about Spanish dichos, or sayings. A translation colleague recently presented about proverbs from around the world at the annual American Translators Association conference, and this inspired me to write another post with some useful Spanish sayings. Here are five, with their English equivalents:

  1. “A mal tiempo, buena cara.” Literally: “In bad weather, a good face.”

In English, we would say: “Put on a brave face.” We could also say: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

2. “Dios los cría, y ellos se juntan.” Literally: “God breeds them, and they flock together.”

In English, we would probably say: “Birds of a feather flock together.”

3. “A cada cerdo le llega su San Martín.” Literally: “Every pig has its Saint Martin.”

Some villages in Spain celebrate the feast of Saint Martin of Tours on November 11 by slaughtering a pig. An English equivalent would be “You reap what you sow” (no pun intended) or “What goes around, comes around.”

4. “A caballo regalado, no le mires el diente.” Literally: “Don’t inspect the tooth of a gift horse.”

In English, we would say “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” or “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

5. “Aquel va más sano, que anda por lo llano.” Literally: “They who are healthiest walk on the plain.”

In English, we would say “Everything in moderation.”

As I finish up this post, we here in the U.S. are awaiting our presidential election results. Be kind to your American friends this week – we are on pins and needles!

Covid-19 Communications

Translators and interpreters are busy providing Covid-19 communications these days. I’m happy when a translation project about Covid-19 guidelines comes my way. This means that the individual or organization needing translation cares about the health and safety of their employees and others in their field.

Some recent Covid-19 communication projects I’ve worked on are for the wine industry: health and safety protocols for agricultural workers at grape harvest time, happening now. Other projects include newsletters from educational institutions regarding school closures, re-opening expectations and program changes to make sure kids and adults stay healthy.

While major organizations like the CDC have different language options on their website, many smaller businesses do not. Therefore, I’m so glad when business owners recognize the importance of translating Covid-19 communications into different languages. For my clients in the U.S., it may mean documents in Spanish for the large Spanish-speaking population here. In other countries, documents may need to be translated into English because that’s the common language that all employees speak (think agricultural workers in Europe who come from different countries to work).

Our knowledge about the virus and how to stay healthy is changing every day, so we’ve got to stay on top of these communications. While the road is still foggy, I take heart in knowing that I’m helping out in my own little way.

Yours in health,


P.S. – A huge shout-out to a very special organization here in California: CoPTIC. Their hard work helped to grant us translators and interpreters an exemption from AB5, thus ensuring that language service providers like me can continue working as independent contractors in this state. This is especially important at a time when language access is crucial. Hospitals, the court system, schools – these are just a few types of institutions that will benefit from still being able to call up a translator or interpreter at any time. What a relief!

The Price of Forgetting

What is the price of forgetting? “The Silence of Others” tells us that, for many parts of history, the price of “forgetting” is too high.

“Es simplemente un olvido. Una amnistía de todos para todos. Un olvido de todos para todos. Una ley puede establecer el olvido, pero ese olvido ha de bajar a toda la sociedad. Hemos de procurar que esta concepción del olvido se vaya generalizando porque es la única manera de que podamos darnos la mano sin recor.”

“It’s simply a forgetting. An amnesty by all, for all. A forgetting by all, for all. A law can establish a forgetting, but that forgetting must filter through all of society. We must ensure that this forgetting becomes widespread because it is the only way we can shake each other’s hands without rancor.”

In the film “The Silence of Others”, we see 1977 video footage of these words spoken by a member of the Congress of Deputies, Spain’s legislative branch that meets in the Palace of the Parliament. These words refer to Spain’s Amnesty Law, which placed a final end to Franco’s dictatorship in Spain but also, with the “Pact of Forgetting” (in Spanish, “el Pacto del Olvido”) wiped out the possibility of seeking justice for the thousands of Spaniards who suffered through disappearances, torture, the kidnapping of babies and many other crimes against humanity from 1936 to 1976.

This documentary is beautiful and heartfelt, full of both pain and hope. Much like here in the U.S., we have learned that the price of “forgetting” is too high. As we follow Spanish men and women of all ages—who lost family members or who were tortured themselves—take part in an international tribunal that seeks to bring perpetrators to justice, we learn their stories and how important it is for them to have some semblance of closure.

María Martín, one of the many Spaniards who has fought to exhume her family member’s remains from a mass grave.

An overall theme of the film is also the questioning of those monuments, streets and other public spaces emblazoned with the names of the Franco regime’s fascist leaders. We see footage of present-day nationalist movements in Spain today, with citizens chanting “Viva Franco, Viva España” while raising their right hands in the air a la Nazi youth. This, too, mirrors what I see happening in my own country.

These statues are a monument to those who suffered under the Franco regime. Shortly after their unveiling, someone shot at them. You can still see the bullet holes.

For an insightful look into these individual Spaniards’ stories and into the historical reckoning that many people in Spain now seek, I highly recommend this movie. It’s currently available on Netflix, and there are subtitles. Whether you live here in the U.S. like me or elsewhere, my guess is that you will see some of your own country in these scenes. Please let me know what you think if you watch it! I’m curious to hear other peoples’ takes.

Photos courtesy of the East Bay Express and Latino Public Broadcasting.

68 Voces

Image from 68 Voces
Summer “hellos” to everyone. A recent discovery I have to share with you today is 68 Voces (68 Voices). This art and storytelling project is the brainchild of Gabriela Badillo, an artist based in Mexico City. It’s a compilation of animated stories from Mexico’s diverse indigenous regions…all narrated in the original indigenous languages. Subtitles are in Spanish, and there is also a collection of stories in English. Beautiful.


Also art-related, do you now anyone who needs a nudge to wear a mask? Share this poster with them. It’s available in 19 languages and from the fab Portland, Oregon artist Maggie Rudy. Hope you’re enjoying summer, wherever this finds you. 


Bienvenida y respaldo: de qué manera pueden reclutar y respaldar a los estudiantes estadounidenses las universidades españolas y latinoamericanas, tercera parte

To read this post in English, click here.

Esta semana presento el último artículo de la serie que consta de tres partes y se denomina: “Bienvenida y respaldo: de qué manera pueden reclutar y respaldar a los estudiantes estadounidenses las instituciones educativas españolas y latinoamericanas”. En la primera publicación analizamos las estrategias de reclutamiento. En la segunda publicación hablamos sobre el apoyo a los estudiantes una vez que estos llegan a sus países anfitriones. El artículo de hoy está destinado a considerar cómo pueden mantener el vínculo las universidades de España y América Latina con sus exalumnos internacionales de habla inglesa, para lograr que hagan correr la voz acerca de los beneficios de sus programas y ayuden a mantener elevadas las tasas de inscripción.

Staying connected.

Si hace un seguimiento de los exalumnos para saber de qué manera les cambió la vida y aumentó su conjunto de habilidades la experiencia de estudio en el extranjero, sabrá de qué hablar con los posibles estudiantes que vengan después. El seguimiento también le ayudará a entender qué mejoras puede implementar en su programa con vistas a un crecimiento futuro. Samantha DiBacco de 4.0 Tours comparte algunas perspectivas que obtuvo su empresa cuando midió el impacto de las experiencias de estudio en el extranjero, especialmente en Europa, en el caso de sus exalumnos:

Findings and Insights

La realización de una encuesta propia con los exalumnos y la posibilidad de compartir ese conocimiento profundo son cosas que resultan realmente beneficiosas, por ejemplo para futuros alumnos y sus padres.

Además, considere las estrategias para conectarse con los exalumnos a través de las redes sociales. Los boletines informativos por correo electrónico son un buen comienzo, pero los destinatarios no siempre los leen. Tener un grupo en LinkedIn para exalumnos extranjeros o una cuenta de Twitter o Instagram específica para los exalumnos internacionales le ayudará a crear una comunidad una vez que estos alumnos completen sus estudios en su campus.

Por último, considere tener un contacto con los exalumnos que pueda desempeñarse como anfitrión si alguno de sus alumnos extranjeros regresa de visita. Esta persona también puede establecer vínculos durante cualquier esfuerzo de recaudación de fondos que realice más adelante. Es habitual que las universidades estadounidenses se pongan en contacto con los exalumnos cuando surge la necesidad de recaudar fondos y realizar campañas de capital. Esta es otra forma en la cual puede mantenerse en contacto con los estudiantes anteriores.

A medida que nos adentramos en este territorio desconocido en el cual los viajes internacionales y las experiencias de estudio en el extranjero resultan tan afectadas por la pandemia del coronavirus, las universidades de España y América Latina tienen una oportunidad inigualable de vincularse de manera eficaz con los estudiantes estadounidenses que desean formarse en sus campus durante del 2020-2021 o más adelante. El objetivo es lograr que los estudiantes se sientan “como en casa”, bienvenidos y a gusto. Esto será beneficioso tanto para las universidades como para los estudiantes extranjeros.

Quiero agradecer a 4.0 Tours la generosidad que tuvo al compartir sus perspectivas y permitirme usar sus hallazgos en esta publicación.

Welcome and Support: How Universities in Spain and Latin America Can Effectively Recruit and Support U.S. Students, Part 3

Para leer este artículo en español, haz clic aquí.

This week is the last article in my three-part series called “Welcome and Support: How Educational Institutions in Spain and Latin America Can Effectively Recruit and Support U.S. Students.” The first post discussed recruitment strategies. The second post was all about how to support English-speaking students after they arrive in your country. Today’s article is about how universities in Spain and Latin America can stay connected to their English-speaking, international alumni in order to help spread the word about programming and keep up enrollment.

Staying connected.

Following up with your alumni as to how their study abroad experience changed their lives and increased their skill set will help you know what to talk about with future potential students. It will also give you insight as to what improvements your program can make for future growth. For example, Samantha DiBacco of 4.0 Tours shares insights her company gained when measuring the impact of their alumni’s study abroad experiences in Europe.:

Findings and Insights

Carrying out your own alumni survey and sharing out those insights is really beneficial for all involved, such as future students and their parents.

In addition, consider social media strategies to connect with alumni. Email newsletters are a good start, but are not always read. Having a LinkedIn group for study abroad alumni or a specific Twitter or Instagram feed for your international alumni creates community after the time on your campus is complete.

Finally, think about having an alumni contact representative that can play host if anyone comes back to visit. This individual can also reach out during fundraising efforts in the future. It’s typical for universities in the U.S. to reach out to their alumni base for fundraising efforts and capital campaigns. This is another way you can stay connected with prior students.

As we enter these uncharted waters when international travel and study abroad experiences are so deeply affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, universities in Spain and Latin America have a golden opportunity to effectively connect with U.S. students who either have plans on hold to study abroad or who plan to study abroad in 2020-2021. Become a “home away from home” where students will feel welcome and comfortable. This will benefit all involved.

Thanks to 4.0 Tours for sharing your insights and allowing the use of your findings for this post!


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