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Es más listo que el hambre

 

An idiom is an expression whose meaning is not readily apparent based on the individual words in the expression. This forum is dedicated to discussing idioms and other sayings.


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Old May 16, 2010, 05:42 PM
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JPablo JPablo is offline
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For the original "ser más listo que el hambre", Cabridge/Klett bilingual also gives "to be no fool", and Random House gives, 6. be nobody's fool, to be wise or shrewd.
In Spanish "ser más listo que Cardona" "no chuparse el dedo" "cortar un pelo en el aire" "no tener un pelo de tonto" "sabérselas todas" "no ser zurdo" or "ser un lince", "saber más que Lepe [,Lepijo y su hijo]" are all expressions to convey that one is intelligent, clever, smart, shrewd, with different connotations each. I think the best translation back to English for "cortar un pelo en el aire" is "to be razor sharp", (i.e., if you are able to slash/cut a hair on the air, you must be really sharp.)
On "ser más listo que el hambre" I believe the expression comes from the idea of the fact that "hunger" (or “necessity level”) makes one think sharper, as one has to figure out how to survive. Literally the Spanish expression is "to be smarter than hunger", making “hunger” into an entity, i.e, ‘personifying’ ‘Hunger’, attributing human nature or character to it.
There are some additional English expressions that may be adequate in some contexts, “To be as sharp as a tack", “be as sharp as a needle” “to be bright as a button”. (In fact, while the translation “to be razor sharp” would be the best in the majority of the cases, the one of “being sharp as a needle” may convey a bit more the “flavour” of “being” hungry, and somewhat, the Spanish way of saying it has a similarity with the quote, Necessity makes even the timid brave. (In the case of the Spanish, “Necessity makes the dull bright” or “the average guy very intelligent”)
In checking in Google, you have, Necessitas Magistra. "Necessity is the mother of invention, and the most powerful provoker of industry, and ingenuity." La necessite n'a point de loi," and "La necessidad carece de ley." "Necessity has no law," and "Hunger will break through stone walls." "In genii largitor venter, Csutum e rudi reddit magistra necessitas." Necessity makes the dull man bright, the sluggard active, the unwary cautious. It sharpens the wit, and makes men more apt for instruction. (I copied the Latin as I found it, with the English translation.) (And now I am going to eat something, so I stop being such a smart-...) (I omit the word with the double ss and the a.) At any rate, I hope it helps. (It helped me to get some tips to increase my IQ, or reduce it at will!)
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