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Nareed
Nareed
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May 28th, 2012 at 11:44:27 AM permalink
Quote: Wizard

In particular in my example if it would be mi pata o la pata. She said either would be acceptable.



Well, yes. And let's leave it at that.


Quote:

Thanks. Can you comment on where this figure of speech comes from?



"Parar en seco"? I've no idea at all. Sorry.
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JB
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JB
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May 28th, 2012 at 12:14:21 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Maybe this will help. I was just chatting with a Speaking-speaking nanny I sometimes see at the park by my house. She is always happy to help me with my Spanish. So I asked her if body parts can be possessive in Spanish. In particular in my example if it would be mi pata o la pata. She said either would be acceptable.


For what it's worth, it's similar with French. In my high school French classes we were always taught that you do not use possessives with body parts, but when we actually went to Europe I asked a local about it and he said that they did use possessives with body parts.

We have similar, hard-to-describe rules about this in English too. Here are some examples:

"I have water on the knee" has a different meaning than "I have water on my knee," but both make sense.

"She has cancer of the liver" makes sense whereas "She has cancer of her liver" sounds strange.

If you were reading the instructions for a sling, it might say "Place around the arm" instead of "Place around your arm," but either would work.

"The other driver gave me the finger" sounds like road rage whereas "The other driver gave me her finger" sounds silly.
Nareed
Nareed
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May 28th, 2012 at 12:20:53 PM permalink
Quote: JB

"She has cancer of the liver" makes sense whereas "She has cancer of her liver" sounds strange.



These make sense to me:

Her liver has cancer
Her liver's failing
Her heart gave out

Among others.

Also:

I hurt my arm playing football
I cut my finger slicing onions for dinner.

Quote:

"The other driver gave me the finger" sounds like road rage whereas "The other driver gave me her finger" sounds silly.



Yes, but if someone gave you a kidney you'd say "She gave me her kidney."
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JB
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JB
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May 28th, 2012 at 12:22:19 PM permalink
Quote: Nareed

Yes, but if someone gave you a kidney you'd say "She gave me her kidney."


Yes, it's almost as if each case has its own rules; or that there is no rule, just exceptions.

English is very "fluid" or "mix-and-match" and I'm glad it's my primary language, because I would have trouble explaining it to someone whose primary language is more rigid.
pacomartin
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May 28th, 2012 at 7:13:20 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Papá cortó mis intntos en seco. The way I would literally translate that is "Father cut my intentions dry." In English one can stop things "cold," meaning it is done quickly and without hesitation. In Spanish is "dry" used instead of "cold"?



That's a puzzler. Let me guess and I will bow to a better argument or a stronger reference.

In English the phrase "cold on my feet" is at least 400 years old. In this sense it means "hard up". The phrase to "stop cold turkey" is at least a hundred years old. The implication is that since "cold turkey" is a meal that requires no preparation, you are stopping something, usually drinking or drugs, without any preparation.

I can't find the original usage of "to stop cold", so I assume it came from one or both of those other expressions.

The Spanish word is very difficult. My only guess is that the Latin word seco means not just "dry", but also "to cut", "to cut off", "to amputate", "to cleave", "to divide" and "to castrate". While the word does not mean that in Spanish, the idiom may be very old, and refer to the earlier Latin use of the word.

    While I admit the appeal to Latin is a bit of a stretch it explains phrases like
  • un golpe seco - a sharp blow
  • en seco - abruptly, suddenly
  • a secas - simply, just


The Latin word "seco" meaning "to cut" or "to divide" shows up in English words like "section" and even "sex" which divides the race into two sections.
NowTheSerpent
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May 28th, 2012 at 7:48:28 PM permalink
Quote: pacomartin

My only guess is that the Latin word seco means not just "dry", but also "to cut", "to cut off", "to amputate", "to cleave", "to divide" and "to castrate". While the word does not mean that in Spanish, the idiom may be very old, and refer to the earlier Latin use of the word.
The Latin word "seco" meaning "to cut" or "to divide" shows up in English words like "section" and even "sex" which divides the race into two sections.



The Latin root -sicc- denoted "dryness" or "thirst", while -sec- was the root for the notion of cutting. Ablaut in Iberian Vulgate and non-duplication of consanants in Spanish made these two end up looking the same ("homographs").
Wizard
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May 28th, 2012 at 7:54:28 PM permalink
I'm not a good one to talk about word or phrase origins, not that I don't have an interest in the topic. I had an English teacher in high school who loved this topic, and I regret I didn't listen better in his class.

There are lots of expressions in English with the word "cold." Here are some others that come to mind:

Cold shoulder (what you give to someone when you ignore them)
Cold feet (when you have second thoughts about an action you're committed to take)
Cold cuts (slices of meat, which aren't necessarily cold)
Cold call (a sales call made with no referral)

Seems to me that every expression with "cold" is negative in nature. I tend to think that is just being figurative with language. Everybody has a general negative reaction to the word "cold" so we pepper expressions with it to convey something bad. Same thing with the word "black."
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
pacomartin
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May 28th, 2012 at 10:48:15 PM permalink
Quote: JB

For what it's worth, it's similar with French.



If you speak French, then you at least be aware of the use of the word for "dry" to mean abruptly. Look at these four Spanish phrases, and their English translations. At least the second one is translated by google to French as "to halt".

1) dejar a alguien seco
2) parar en seco
3) llámame Juan a secas
4) no comas pan a secas

1) to kill somebody stone dead;
2) to stop dead
3) just call me Juan
4) don't eat just bread

2) une halte
pacomartin
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May 28th, 2012 at 11:02:29 PM permalink
Quote: Nareed

Quote: Wizard

I hate to beat a dead horse, but with all due respect, but I've always read that body parts are never possessive in Spanish, and Paco's article is yet another source. So I still say that it should be la pata.



And I hate to repeat myself, but that's not how the language is used. Not consistently, at any rate. Take these two examples:

Me duele LA cabeza = I have a headache or My head hurts.

Me duele todo MI hermoso cuerpo = I hurt all over my beautiful body (this is kind of a joke)



I don't really understand your statement, Wizard. There are possessive nouns, possessive adjectives, and possessive pronouns.
Possessive nouns are
A book's pages
A flower's petals
The classroom's blackboard

I guess using a body part with the possessive in English would be
The body's color
The leg's bruises
The ear's piercing

These phrases sound a little funny in English
------------------
Describing possessive adjectives and pronouns you can contrast the two sentences

My book is large. (adjective, describes book)
Yours is small. (pronoun, takes the place of noun)


With clothing, body parts and other personal items: It is very common to use the definite article in Spanish in cases where a possessive adjective (such as "your") would be used in English. Examples:
¡Abre los ojos! (Open your eyes!)
Perdió los zapatos. (He lost his shoes.)
Wizard
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May 29th, 2012 at 5:58:22 AM permalink
Quote: pacomartin

I don't really understand your statement, Wizard.



I'm just saying that every source on Spanish grammar I have seen says that body parts are never possessive in Spanish. This includes a source you quoted yesterday. I'm not sure why you're going after me about it.

Fecha: 29-05-12
Palabra: Fregar


Today's SWD means to wash. How does that differ from lavar, I'm sure you're wondering. I don't know exactly, but it seems that fregar is more likely to be used for cleaning things, and lavar for cleaning people.

In the context I found fregar it referred to washing dishes.

Ejemplo time.

Mientras fui fregando las ventanas, me caí de la escalera. = While washing the windows, I fell off the ladder.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.

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