build castles in Spain

Discussion in 'English Only' started by monnypenny, Feb 10, 2007.

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  1. monnypenny New Member

    Spain Spanish

    I'd like to know whether the expression "to build castles in Spain" is common or it has become obsolete now.

  2. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    Hello, monnypenny, and welcome to the forum!

    I'm familiar with the expression through reading, but I don't think I've ever heard it spoken in my experience. I have always lived in the U.S. I have the impression this is more of a British English expression.
  3. monnypenny New Member

    Spain Spanish
    Thanks a lot for your quick answer. I'm a teacher of English in a public school in Madrid, Spain. Now and then I have my doubts about English, so I think I'm gonna visit this site quite often, 'cause it's of great help for us who are not native speakers. Thanks again. I hope I can help too!!
  4. Welcome monnypenny. :)

    Building castles in Spain means the same as "building castles in the air."

    Day-dreaming about achieving the unattainable.

    Hope to see you around.

  5. monnypenny New Member

    Spain Spanish
    LRV: Thank you very much for your answer
  6. petiteaurore87 Member

    USA English
    In these posts, do you mean to say that in English, "build castles in Spain" is the same as English, "build castles in the air", or that French's "batir des châteaux en Espagne" means to "build castles in the air" ?

    Is "build castles in Spain" an English expression as well ?

    Thank you !
  7. gasman Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Is "build castles in Spain" an English expression as well ?

    Yes. I would define it as "wishful thinking".
  8. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    The expression is certainly still used in BE. Brewer says it comes from:

    Châteaux en Espagne. [Castles in Spain.] A castle in the air; something that exists only in the imagination. In Spain there are no châteaux.

    He may be right about the point about châteaux as opposed to castles, but he's wrong to suggest there are no châteaux in Spain: There's the famous one at Ananjuez, evoked by de Falla, and Rodrigo.

    And the Bourbon French King Philippe V built La Granja San Ildefonso outside Segovia, which is more French than Spanish, and much more a château than a castle.
  9. Esca

    Esca Senior Member

    USA - English
    I have never heard this expression... I have only heard the version "to build castles in the air."
  10. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    I think it's a little dated, to say the least. I haven't heard it for millenia!
  11. katie_here Senior Member

    I've heard about "building castles in the air" as being an unattainable dream, but I can't understand why you can't build castles in Spain? It's a very odd saying to me.
  12. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I like it, but as with other members I don't think I've ever heard anyone actually say it, I've only read it.
  13. wordsmithy New Member

    This phrase is used mainly by those who have studied French and learned the expression - "Batir Châteaux en Espagne" - building castles in Spain being the equivalent of the English expression "building castles in the air", visual day-dreaming about projects and achieving the unattainable. Spain was seen as the region of romance in old French literature. The phrase embodied a burning hope for, and desire of lovers to have a place of retreat, a secluded spot, a stronghold - isolated from the prying eyes of the curious and all the irritating forces of the world, where love could be freely expressed and carried to its blissful conclusion.
  14. ewhite

    ewhite Senior Member

    Although I can't say I've ever used it, it is familiar to me, mainly through the operetta "Babes in Toyland", wherein TomTom the Piper's Son promises Bo-Peep that he will indeed, build her a castle in Spain.
  15. bolson New Member

    Hello. At least one year later, I´m writing from Vigo in Spain.
    When I was a child I was told thas this expression referred to a French one, and it was based in something that happened to the king Charlemagne who ruled France and Germany in the 8th century. He pretended to conquer Spain from the arabs and sent and army to do so, but he was defeated and had to turn back to France. So, he couldn´t conquer Spain and build his own castles here. Part of this story is told in the epic poem "La chanson de Roland". So that´s why to build castles in Spain is considered an unattainable dream as Katie here said.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2010
  16. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    Now that's a very interesting finale to the saga. Thanks.:)
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