avere la coda di paglia

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by Pamela fluente, Jan 30, 2006.

  1. Pamela fluente Member

    How do you render in English:

    "Ma che hai/avete la coda di paglia ?"

  2. Elisa68 Senior Member

    Ti interessa la traduzione o sei in cerca di altro?
    Nella prima ipotesi:
    Do you have a guilty conscience?
  3. Pamela fluente Member

    Thank you Elisa! I like it.

    I am wondering could I be taken seriously when I say that. That is have a reply such as "no I am innocent" ? Or the sentence is always understood as you suggest ?

    What you mean "cerca altro", an foreign boyfriend? This could be a good case of applicability of my sentence perhaps (?) Well, who knows. Wanna chat more drop me a PM. The MODS of this f. are very strict and don't allow chat, ...

  4. Nokta Ombro

    Nokta Ombro Senior Member

    Brescia & Pavia
    Italy - Lombardia; Italiano
    I'd like to have some more suggestions on this.
    Is "to have a guilty conscience" the only way to express it because it seems a bit too strong to me.

    "avere la coscienza sporca" is pretty different from "avere la coda di paglia"
    the first refer to a very bad behave the second is usually said in more "friendly" situations or for something that was not so terrible.

    Any suggestion will be really appreaciated :)
  5. aleCcowaN Senior Member

    Castellano - Argentina
    maybe "avere la coda di paglia" = "feeling (some) remorse" (having regrets about one's misdeeds)
  6. Nokta Ombro

    Nokta Ombro Senior Member

    Brescia & Pavia
    Italy - Lombardia; Italiano
    Nice, let's wait for some english speaker to check our guesses :)
  7. happy-too Senior Member

    Dallas, Texas
    American English
    Ho trovato questo significato sul sito di Wikipedia...

    Avere la coda di paglia - essere in sospetto di non avere la coscienza tranquilla quindi reagire velocemente a critiche od osservazioni, "prendere velocemente fuoco", come la paglia.

    So...it seems to me that to have a guilty conscience or to feel remorseful about something is correct. Comunque...the Wikipedia definition goes on to say that the gulity conscience might lead to one being a little touchy (permaloso/a). Diciamo "spring loaded" (like the position of the hammer of a firearm when ready for firing)...meaning...if one has feelings of guilt...they may quickly jump to defend themselves if/when accused...whether in fact they are guilty of it or not! Therefore...I agree with Nokta Ombro...and it is my humble guess that "avere la coda di paglia" is not as though one has committed a grave/serious offense...but nevertheless feels badly about whatever it was they DID do. (Esempio: eating cookies from the cookie jar just before dinner when you know it is not allowed vs. wrecking your father's automobile!)

    Hope this helps.
  8. Jacomina New Member

    Could someone help me to find the proper english translation of the italian expression "coda di paglia", please?
    Generally we use it with reference to a person who knows that he/she has something to hide and it is constructed with the italian auxiliary verb "avere" (e.g.: Lei ha la coda di paglia / Ma che hai la coda di paglia?).
    Thanks very much in advance for your help.
  9. housecameron

    housecameron Senior Member

    Italian/ Italy
    Ciao Jacomina e benvenuta :)
    Il dizionario Oxford-Paravia la traduce con to have a guilty conscience.
    Aspettiamo conferme o smentite
  10. Jacomina New Member

    Thanks a lot housecameron!

    I thought there was something less formal, maybe another idiomatic expression similar to the italian one.. but that's perfect! :)

    This forum is amazing & really helpful, thank you.
  11. Kraus Senior Member

    Italian, Italy
    Il dizionario Ragazzini conferma! Ma si copiano l'un l'altro? :)
  12. Jacomina New Member

    Grazie anche te Kraus! :)
  13. underhouse Senior Member

    Anche Garzanti dice la stessa cosa, ma sono convinto ci sia qualcosa di più idiomatico...
  14. Ka Mate Ka Ora Senior Member

    New Zealand English

    Are you hiding a tell-tale heart?

    da una novella famosa di Edgar Allen Poe, The Tell-tale Heart, 1843
  15. underhouse Senior Member

    Interesting, Ka Mate Ka Ora, could you tell us a bit more about it?

    Why a tell-tale heart?

    Would this expression be understandable both in the UK and the US?
  16. Ka Mate Ka Ora Senior Member

    New Zealand English
    In italiano, la novella è tradotto come Il Cuore Revelatore. Puoì trovarla in italiano su Google. Edgar Allen Poe (1809-49) era americano ed è uno dei più famosi scrittori negli Stati Uniti, sopratutto per The Tell-tale Heart. No lo so se è ben conosciuto nel UK.
  17. TrentinaNE

    TrentinaNE Senior Member

    English (American)
    Unfortunately, no longer that well-known in the USA either. :( Nice alternative though. Here's the Italian wikipedia article.

  18. underhouse Senior Member

    In effetti, su google neanche un risultato per "are you hiding a tell-tale heart?"...
  19. Ka Mate Ka Ora Senior Member

    New Zealand English
  20. Jacomina New Member

    Dear Ka Mate Ka Ora,
    is very interesting what you found about the "tell-tale heart", I hadn't heard of that Poe's tale before, thank you! So now I hope to find a bit more about the 'connection' between this expression and our "coda di paglia".. :)
  21. Ka Mate Ka Ora Senior Member

    New Zealand English
    Enjoy! :)
  22. joeyo Member

    USA / American
    Can anyone explain the origin of this expression?
    Thank you.
  23. TimLA

    TimLA Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English - US
    Coda di paglia = tail of straw
    Those with a guilty conscience will often overreact to situations about which they feel guilty -
    ...the lady doth protest too much methinks...
    In that case, they "catch fire" (get angry/respond or react quickly to) in a situation about which they feel guilty...
    Thus they have a tail that burns VERY fast, like straw.

  24. joeyo Member

    USA / American
    That's a great answer--thanks very much.
  25. sgot New Member

    I'm new in this forum and i'd like to begin telling that you all have been my bible in last two years! ...great job guys!!
    ...actually i don't know why i didn't register before...maybe cause i'm an idiot :p

    Anyways, i'd like to contribute about this common italian expression now.
    i was watching some tv series in english (with italian subtitles, i'm still not so great in understanding mother-tongues :)) and it came out!

    The "subber" (on which you really can rely ;)) wrote:
    - "Mi stai spiando?"
    - "Non avrai mica la coda di paglia??"
    but i can't understand what the second guy says...

    I made a short mp3 for you but i can't post an external link cause i'm a newbie :eek:

    I hoped it could be helpful.

    how can i do? can i send the link to someone so that he can post it instead of me?

    thank youuu!!
  26. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    I'm not sure if there's a standard expression for all occasions.
    Have you got a guilty conscience? doesn't sound so strong in English as in Italian, so I think it would work in many cases.
    Another could be Have you got something to hide?
  27. shopkins New Member

    From what I have read above, I think the best option would be "feeling defensive?" or "a little defensive, aren't we?" This is more idiomatic, and seems to fit the situation. True, we don't have the idiomatic expression in English, but this is what I would use in the situations specified above. My sons are watching Toy Story 2 in Italian, and when Woody accuses Jessie of turning on the tv, he says "abbiamo la coda di paglia eh?" Which I would definitely translate into "a little defensive, aren't we?"
  28. tsoapm

    tsoapm Senior Member

    Emilia–Romagna, Italy
    English (England)
    Other possibilities might involve “skeleton in the closet”, "dirty/guilty little secret".

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