hizo no sé qué filósofo de Egipto

Hi all, how would you translate this:

Antes se hubiera cortado la lengua con sus propios dientes, como dicen que hizo no sé qué filósofo de Egipto.

The "hizo no sé qué filósofo de Egipto" is particularly confusing to me. As for the first half of the sentence, is it an expression or does he actually bite down his tongue?
  • Bevj

    Allegra Moderata
    English (U.K.)
    We can only answer one question, the one which you include in the title.
    I would translate it as '... like they say some Egyptian philosopher did.'
    Or '.... Like some Egyptian philosopher is said to have done'.


    Senior Member
    Castellano rioplatense
    The "hizo no sé qué filósofo de Egipto" is particularly confusing to me.
    'No sé qué filósofo' literally means 'I don't know what philosopher'. This is not to say you'd put it like this in English, but only to help you understand.

    'No sé qué' is a very common phrase in Spanish when you're not completely sure about something. In this case, the writer knows some philosopher bit his own tongue off, but he can't remember his name. In English you'd say 'some philosopher' in these cases, as Bevj explained above.


    Senior Member
    American English
    I agree that "some" conveys the right meaning, but I think it's a bit less colloquial than the original (and would probably translate more closely to something else in Spanish). In casual speech, you could say (borrowing from securehope's nice translation) "he would have rather bitten off his own tongue than ever ask for his money back, which they say that what's-his-name, that Egyptian philosopher, actually did."


    Allegra Moderata
    English (U.K.)
    I'm surprised
    'Some Egyptian philosopher' sounds (at least in BrE) very informal. In fact when I made the suggestion I thought it might be too much so compared with the original.
    You could also add 'some Egyptian philosopher or other'......
    'That what's-his-name' to me sounds as though you are referring to someone in particular but have forgotten his name :)


    Senior Member
    Spanish Andalusia
    In general, it means some ... or other. Como dicen que hizo un filósofo cuyo nombre no recuerdo.

    Lo descubrió no sé qué científico - It was discovered by some scientist or other.
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