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To let the cat out of the bag

 

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  #1  
Old November 27, 2010, 07:26 AM
bwriter bwriter is offline
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To let the cat out of the bag

I am a writer. I have written 7 or 8 novels, all of them, as yet, unpublished although I have self-published 3 of them. My latest novel includes two characters who are from Minorca.
Felipe is around 30 years old. He has a slender moustache and a broken nose. He is capable of murder.
Maria is around 25 and is beautiful with olive-shaped eyes and black, lustrous hair.
I need to have them speaking English but with a Spanish accent and I have tried to use little inflections to remind the reader that the person speaking is Spanish.
My immediate concern is this: I want Maria to confess to someone, 'The cat is out of the bag.' Meaning, Okay, you have found me out.
How do you say this in Spanish?
Thank you in anticipation.

Last edited by Rusty; November 27, 2010 at 08:29 AM. Reason: removed mention of web site
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  #2  
Old November 27, 2010, 08:27 AM
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Look here.
You can find a lot of idiomatic expressions on our site by clicking 'Idioms' on the menu bar and then by performing a search on the home page.
For example, I used 'bag' to find the expression you were looking for.

You'll see that there are three translation choices for the expression. To learn which is most appropriate to your story, you'll need to provide us with some context. Then we'll be able to give you the correct translation.
One of the reasons we'll need to know the context is because the main verb of the expression is unconjugated, just like it is in the English version. It will need conjugated for the third person (for María) and it will need cast into the proper tense.

Last edited by Rusty; November 27, 2010 at 08:45 AM. Reason: provided more information
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Old November 27, 2010, 12:36 PM
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I just added this expression, (descubrir el pastel), as it is also common in Spain.
Descubrir[se] el pastel. Dejar [o quedar] al descubierto algún manejo que se tenía oculto.

A point to take into account as well is that at Minorca, people speak "Minorcan" language as well, which is a variant of "Catalonian/Majorcan" language.
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Lo propio de la verdad es que se basta a sí misma, aquel que la posee no intenta convencer a nadie.
"An enemy is somebody who flatters you. A friend is somebody who criticizes the living daylights out of you."
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Old November 28, 2010, 04:09 AM
bwriter bwriter is offline
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Thanks for responding to my plea for help, guys. I appreciate the effort.
I did search in the forums but I looked for 'cat' and found nothing.
I will insert the chapter from my book in this message so you can get inside Maria's head.
The situation is this:
Keith is sailing a small boat in the North Sea. He has an ancient artifact that an organisation called FOSC want to take from him. He called the mobile phone of a girl called Sheila - whom he has never met - and asked her to help him avoid these people who he suspects will kill him to get the artefact. But Maria, a member of FOSC, has stolen Sheila's mobile and it is she who took his call. Maria is now on board with Keith. She is pretending to be Sheila while awaiting her chance to steal the artefact.
I would like Maria to confess and say something like, 'Okay, you found me out. I am not Sheila.'

My apologies if this post is a bit too long.

P.S. I also had Maria saying, 'Que?' I intended it to be the Spanish equivalent of 'I beg your pardon' or 'What did you say?' I confess I got this from Manuel on Fawlty Towers.
I also have Maria saying 'Theenk' instead of 'Think'. It is my attempt to reproduce the sound of Spanglish and I hope it is not insulting to Spanish speakers. Being Scottish I see far too may English and Americans who think we pepper every sentence with 'Och aye, the noo,' and I do wish to avoid making similar mistakes.

Star Child - Chapter 37
Keith passed a restless night, waking every now and then from dreams haunted by Ewan’s dead face. Each time he took the afforded opportunities to check their course and speed. But more and more he found his waking thoughts turning to the woman sleeping in the forward berth. And he wondered why she had volunteered to help him.
More to the point, he wondered how she could help him. Probably not at all, he concluded gloomily. Unless she knew something about this crazy Spaniard who was chasing him down the length of the east coast. He determined to quiz her as soon as he could.
Which was only a few minutes later. Dawn was well under way, the sun rising, dripping, from the sea, when Maria poked her groggy head out through the cabin door.
‘Good morning, Sheila. Have a nice sleep?’
She rubbed her eyes in response and yawned revealing a row of small, white teeth. Then she smiled and it seemed to Keith that a second sunrise took place. Even fresh out of a deep sleep, his shipboard companion was a very attractive woman, something he’d been trying not to notice up until now.
‘I will make breakfast?’
‘Sure. Let me help.’ He clambered inside and fired up the little stove while Maria drizzled oil into the frying pan.
‘Olive oil. It is good for the skin.’
Keith couldn’t raise an argument against that. Sheila had beautiful skin. And she certainly could cook. When the last traces of egg yolk were wiped from the plates with slices of bread, they leaned back and enjoyed the sun on their faces.
‘So. What now?’
Maria opened her eyes and blinked. ‘Que?’
‘I mean, where do we go from here? We seem to be safely away from the lunatic and–’
‘Lunatic? What is this, please?’
‘It’s a…well, it’s a madman.’ A wry smile twisted his lips. ‘It’s someone who’s prepared to beat your brains out with a wheel nut spanner. No questions asked.’
Keith cast around in his thoughts for the one that had been interrupted. ‘We’re safe from the police, too, I think. Unless they set the coastguard on our tail.’
‘Why do the police chase you?’
Keith gave a humourless chuckle. ‘They think I’m a double murderer. They think–’
‘You are a murderer?’ Maria’s eyes widened in horror. ‘This cannot be so. I have not known you for a long time, Keith, but I know you are not a murderer.’
‘Okay, thanks for your vote of confidence. But I suspect the police will need more convincing.’
‘Who do they say you have killed’
Keith collected their mugs and shuffled down into the cabin to refill them. By the time he returned, he had gathered his thoughts. ‘Professor Harris is dead. But then you probably–’
‘Professor ‘Arris?’ He has died?’
‘Yes. Didn’t anyone…?’ Keith shrugged. Perhaps Sheila was already on holiday when the news of the professor’s death broke. ‘Seems he was injected with some drug or other and it killed him.’
‘But Felipe said…’
Keith did a double-take. ‘What do you know of Felipe? Is this the same nutter who’s chasing me? Who’s trying to–’
‘I am feeling sick.’ Maria lurched to her feet and dived into the cabin. Her brain was racing furiously. And she was angry and humiliated. How could she have been so stupid. Now Keith McKenzie must suspect she was not who she said she was.
She flung herself onto the for’ard bunk and composed her thoughts. She must find a way to explain how she knew Felipe. Or that she knew a Felipe. Maybe she could pretend he was a colleague at the university. A male friend. One of her relatives back in Minorca. After all, Felipe was a fairly common name in Spain.
Thankfully, Keith had seen her distress and didn’t follow her inside. She would have time to think. When she reappeared in the cockpit several minutes later, she had her story prepared. And she was outwardly calm.
‘I am sorry for leaving as I did. It was the boat I theenk. And remembering…this Felipe. I think I have met this man.’
Now it was Keith’s turn to stare.
‘You… You’ve met him? How?’
Maria settled on the thwart seat again and forked back her lustrous black hair.
‘Two people came to see me. Fue el lunes.’ Her hands fluttered around as she sought the correct phrase in English. ‘It was on the Monday.’
Keith leaned back against the coaming, his eyes hooded.
‘And?’
‘And they said they were assistants to Professor ‘Arris. His name I think was Felipe.’
‘You said there were two people.’
‘Yes. The other was a girl. Her name, I think it was…Ma…Maria.’
The Spanish girl cringed inwardly. The name had tripped off her tongue before she could recall it. She wasn’t as well prepared as she had thought. She should have had another name ready. Not her own.
‘The professor had two assistants with him?’
‘Yes. That is…no. They were not his assistants. But they pretended they were.’
Maria was a skilful liar, and she knew that the first rule of lying successfully was to keep as close as possible to the truth. Too many falsehoods would trip you up. You can never remember them all.
Keith leaned forward. The gleam in his eyes said he felt close to discovering the reason he had been hounded ever since leaving Edinburgh airport. And his silence told Maria he expected her to supply more details.
‘I theenk they were from people who want to ‘ave the tooth for themselves.’
Maria was beginning to slip comfortably into the persona of the Edinburgh biochemist. It was becoming easier to think as she would. Tell this tale from her perspective.
‘Ah. So it was the tooth they were after. And they wanted you to conduct some tests on it. Is that right?’
‘That is right. So you know about the Star Child?’’
‘What?’
Again Maria died a little inside. She had revealed a tad too much by assuming Keith knew more than he did. She sighed. Now she had no choice but to tell him about the legend of the Star People. Then she remembered the magazine she had found earlier. It was obvious to her that Keith had not yet read it. If he had, then he would have known all about Star Child.
She unfolded her legs from beneath her, ducked inside, and retrieved the copy of National Geographic she’d been skimming the day before.
‘You will find out about it in here.’
She opened the magazine at the appropriate page and gave it to him.
Keith grunted his thanks and began to read.
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Old November 28, 2010, 03:36 PM
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I'm sorry, but a Spaniard having fried eggs and bread for breakfast isn't very convincing. A coffee (espresso-style) and something sweet - a pastry, a croissant, an ensaimada - is a lot more likely. Unless she really has spent a lot of time in Edinburgh, of course...
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Old November 28, 2010, 04:16 PM
bwriter bwriter is offline
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A fair point, pjt33. But what you can't know from reading just this chapter is that the only food on board is what Keith was able to buy from a country farmhouse. Eggs, cheese, milk, bacon, butter and bread. I do intend to have her whip up a few tasty omelettes later on though. And if you are on a small sailboat with only these dairy products to hand, as she is, then you just gotta eat what there is.
Can you suggest any tasty Spanish delights a clever lady could concoct using the above ingredients on a tiny calor gas oven?
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Old November 28, 2010, 04:25 PM
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There are perhaps several ways to say, "OK, you found me out," but I would say, "Bueno, me ha pillado." Wait for others to chime in.

You used both artifact and artefact in your post. Although both are valid spellings, I would probably stick with just one.

"¿Qué?" (notice the upside-down question mark and the accent mark) is used in some areas, but it would be more common to hear "¿Cómo?"

I see that María elides the 'h' in some words, but not in others. It would be a bit more convincing if there were some consistency.
The double-e in 'theenk' isn't necessary, because the 'i' in think is pronounced like the Spanish 'i'. However, the 'th' in 'think' is completely foreign to a Spanish speaker, so I would expect that part to be altered.
Adding pronunciation variations is OK, but it may be more effective to just pepper the dialog with a couple of Spanish words and phrases, like you did later in the story. This, and altering grammar, are the best devices in my opinion. You did well with, "I will make breakfast?" Equally good is, "Olive oil. It is good for the skin."
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Old November 29, 2010, 12:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty View Post
The double-e in 'theenk' isn't necessary, because the 'i' in think is pronounced like the Spanish 'i'.
Not in any British accent which comes to mind.
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Old November 29, 2010, 02:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty View Post
The double-e in 'theenk' isn't necessary, because the 'i' in think is pronounced like the Spanish 'i'.
I think it is. I have never yet heard somebody Spanish pronounce the English i correctly.
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Old November 29, 2010, 03:38 AM
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Wink

Quote:
Originally Posted by pjt33 View Post
I'm sorry, but a Spaniard having fried eggs and bread for breakfast isn't very convincing. A coffee (espresso-style) and something sweet - a pastry, a croissant, an ensaimada - is a lot more likely. Unless she really has spent a lot of time in Edinburgh, of course...
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwriter View Post
A fair point, pjt33. But what you can't know from reading just this chapter is that the only food on board is what Keith was able to buy from a country farmhouse. Eggs, cheese, milk, bacon, butter and bread. I do intend to have her whip up a few tasty omelettes later on though. And if you are on a small sailboat with only these dairy products to hand, as she is, then you just gotta eat what there is.
Can you suggest any tasty Spanish delights a clever lady could concoct using the above ingredients on a tiny calor gas oven?
If there are no ensaimadas or croissants available, the most common breakfast (and my favourite) in the Balearic Islands is toast drizzled with olive oil (and rubbed with tomato, if that's available) - it's called 'pa amb oli' (bread with oil)... (Although most people here would probably shudder and say 'Just coffee, please' ;-)
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