Spanish Language Blog

Rewriting our traditional sayings: the new Spanish “refranero” Posted by on Nov 9, 2012 in Learning, Spanish Culture, Spanish Vocabulary

Do you know there is a financial crisis going on all over the world? Even more, do you know we also have a political and social crisis in Spain? I know we as a country have a lot of faults, but one of the best things of our “national character” is the sense of humor. We can make a joke almost of everything, and although the whole country is just now in a very difficult situation, that´s exactly what we have done with our traditional “refranero” or collection of sayings: bankruptcy, unemployment, European (or maybe it is best to say German) economic politics, national debt, financial rescue and a lot more have modified our typical sayings in a great extent. If we have problems, at least we could have a good laugh at them too! Let me share some of them with you:

1. ” En Bankia cerrada no entran moscas”  (Bankia is a Spanish bank with big financial problems), instead of our traditional saying “en boca cerrada no entran moscas“,  meaning if you keep your mouth shut, you won’t put your foot in it.

2. “En casa del herrero cartilla del paro” substitutes “En casa del herrero, cuchara de palo“, with a possible English equivalent in “The mechanics car never runs” .The unemployment card is a clear reference to the great amount of people without work just now (nearly 5.000.000 people!)

3. “Aunque la Merkel vista de seda, Merkel se queda” is the new version of “Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda” or it´s English equivalent “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” , implying we Spanish people are not quite comfortable with some of her financial politics regarding our country.

4. “El perro de San Roque no tiene rabo porque Mariano Rajoy se lo ha recortado.” This is not really a saying, but a tongue twister which really suits us to express some too drastic steps our government has approved in relation to our basic social rights such as public health and education. “To reduce” is a verb very very much used nowadays in Spain!

5. “Ojos que no ven, Urdangarín que se lo lleva.” , instead of  “ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente” (out of sight, out of mind). Iñaki Urdangarín is the son-in-law of our monarch, and he is involved in a shady fraud, the Nóos affaire. Unfortunately there is a widespread feeling that law is not the same for everyone in this country, and some people think he won´t be sentenced as he should be if he is find guilty.

And that´s all for today! If you like them, we will continue sharing more some other day.
Have a great weekend!

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About the Author: Magda

Hi all! I’m Magda, a Spanish native speaker writing the culture posts in the Transparent Language Spanish blog. I have a Bachelor’s in English Philology and a Master’s in Linguistics and Literature from the University of Granada, in Spain. I have also completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, and then worked as an English teacher in several schools and academies for several years. Last year was my first at university level. In addition, I work as a private tutor, teaching English and Spanish as a foreign language to students and adults. In my free time, I’m an avid reader and writer, editing and collaborating in several literary blogs. I have published my first poetry book recently. And last but not least, I love photography!


  1. Antonio:

    Ja, ja, ja… a wonderful way to learn Spanish traditional sayings using today. Magda is great.

    • Magda:

      @Antonio At least, let´s have some fun! Thank you Antonio!

  2. steve:

    espanya no es uganda -rajoy lol