La gracia del barbero

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by Luder, Jun 23, 2013.

  1. Luder Senior Member

    USA English
    From a book by Ganivet:

    ¿Conoce usted el dicho popular de que "la gracia del barbero es sacar patilla donde no hay pelo"?

    At first, I thought this saying was the same as, "la gracia del barbero es afeitar donde no hay pelo."

    But then I read on, and Pío Cid has this to say:

    "Pues esta gracia es la gracia de España. Nosotros somos capaces de hacer más que nadie, con menos que nadie, sin duda porque la falta la suplimos con algo nuestro propio. . . ."

    Does the saying mean, then, that the barber's skill is to create sideburns where there is no hair? Is there an equivalent saying in English? Suggestions are, as always, greatly appreciated!
  2. LoveLanguages:) New Member

    Hi Luder,
    This is my first reply :D
    Indeed that sentence means that the barber can create sideburns where there is no hair. Anyway, that's not a standard expression we use nowadays, so if you need to translate it and can't think of anything similar, I would translate it literally or try to think of something that sounds good in English.
  3. Luder Senior Member

    USA English
    Thank you, LL. I may not have known exactly what the expression meant, but I was pretty sure it wasn't current! I translated "gracia" as "flair," for reasons you can probably guess.
  4. al1en Member

    Has entendido bien Luder., que el barbero afeita donde no hay pelo.. es digamos un chiste en buen sentido, que da de entender la capacidad de los españoles de hacer cosas de la nada, tal como lo refleja Pio Cid en su siguiente frase.. aunque estaria bienvenida una opinion mas elaborada en ingles para que lo entiendas mejor. Un saludo
  5. Lis48

    Lis48 Senior Member

    York, England
    English - British
    There are idioms such as "Make diamonds out of coal" or "Make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" but personally I would translate it more literally as "a barber's skill is to create a style out of nothing" or "even a bald/balding man can look good with the right barber."
    Though less literally I think we would say "a skilled chef can make a feast out of nothing."
  6. Luder Senior Member

    USA English
    Thank you for the additional suggestions, Lis and al1en.

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