Ilivetolearn's Blog

January 18, 2006

much ado about walnuts

Filed under: Spain — ilivetolearn @ 10:55 pm

The only TV show I try to watch regularly is Quien Quiere Ser Millonario (Who Wants to be a Millionaire?)…because the questions and multiple-choice answers are printed on the screen as well as spoken, I can learn lots of vocabulary while shouting at the contestants who are about to make costly mistakes. (“No, no—‘judo’ doesn’t mean ‘warlike gestures,’ it means ‘gentle way.’”)

As in the US version, the first few questions test common knowledge; every player gets them right and is lulled into a false sense of omniscience. However, they’re impossible for me. Which word completes the saying, “Mucho ruido y pocas (blank)”? It’s nueces. I can get the gist—much ado about nothing, or empty barrels make the most noise—but only a native knows “much noise and few walnuts.” Many of these aphorisms reflect the regional antagonisms (not to mention misogyny) of years gone by, like “De Segovia ni el burro ni la novia,” which means “From Segovia, (take) neither burro nor wife.” This is too politically incorrect for Who Wants to be a Millionaire, but they did recently use “Quien fue a Sevilla perdio su silla,” which means “Whoever goes to Seville loses his chair.” This doesn’t mean that Sevillians are chair thieves, but rather that if you get up someone will take your place, or You snooze, you lose.


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