una de cal y otra de arena

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by beg, Jun 22, 2006.

  1. beg Senior Member

    Spain - Spanish
    Hola, ¿alguien sugiere cómo traducir esta frase?
    El texto en que aparece:
    "Con sus creaciones impactantes V&R constituyen un ejemplo de lo políticamente correcto, dando una de cal y otra de arena en sus controvertidas colecciones".
    No se me ocurre nada. Gracias.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2016
  2. cubaMania Senior Member

    Está en nuestro diccionario de WR (bajo de la palabra cal):
  3. beg Senior Member

    Spain - Spanish
    ¡Gracias! No sabía que había diccionario. Perdón por las molestias.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2016
  4. cubaMania Senior Member

    OK, bienvenido/a al foro. Encontrarás mucha gente amable, y mucha ayuda en los foros. El diccionario está encima de cada página. También sugiero leer las normas del foro donde encontrarás que nos piden, entre otras cosas, escribir todo correcto, sin "chatspeak", con mayúsculas, con acentos, con "que" (no q) etc. porque cada hilo sirve para gente que está estudiando y aprendiendo la lengua.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2016
  5. xugarr Member

    Hi everyone,

    I've seen the translation in the WR dictionary of the expression "una de cal y otra de arena" but I'm not quite agree.

    It gives "one of six and half dozen of the other" as equivalent, but the Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms explains the idiom in the following way:
    if you say that a bad situation is six of one and half a dozen of the other, you mean that two people or groups are equally responsible. Harriet's always accusing Donald of starting arguments, but if you ask me, it's six of one and half a dozen of the other.

    Well, I belive it doesn't has anything to do with the meaning of "una de cal y otra de arena", or at least to the meaning it has in Spain. It is specially used when, in a sentimental relationship, someone tries to measure out his signs of affection, in order to keep the other person's interest up.

    I've find another idiom, which I think it's much more accurate in this case:

    Play hard to get.

    to pretend that you are less interested than you really are. Bill decided he would accept the job if it was offered rather than playing hard to get in the hope of being offered more money. Usage notes: often said about romantic relationships: She said he was avoiding her, but maybe he was just playing hard to get.</SPAN>

    What do you think? Is the WR translation valid in other Spanish-speaking territories?

    Could someone give other examples?

  6. Bronte Senior Member

    Spanish Cantabria Spain
    Dar una de cal y otra de arena.
    To apply a policy of carrot and stick. From Collins dictionary.
  7. xugarr Member

    Thanks Bronte! I believe that's a good one for a none romantic relationship context.
  8. epovo

    epovo Senior Member

    Spanish Spain
    ¿Cal sería "stick" y la Arena, "carrot"? ¿o sería al revés? Yo nunca lo he sabido :(
  9. Bronte Senior Member

    Spanish Cantabria Spain
    La cal es lo bueno y la arena lo malo
  10. Santiago Jorge

    Santiago Jorge Senior Member

    English, USA
    I believe the definition from the Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms of the expression "six of one and half a dozen of the other" is too narrow or specialized.

    Generally speaking, that expression simply means that something/a sitution is similiar to something else/some other situation; since 6 is the same as 1/2 of a dozen (12) which is also 6.

    - Hey, John? Should I do "A" or "B?"
    - I don't know. It is a sitation where it would be "six of one and half a dozen of the other."

    Here, another expression comes to mind: "There is more than one way to skin a cat", where it doesn't matter what you do the result will be the same. So, in the example above, you could do either "A" or "B," which are different, but the results will be the same.
  11. ryoko_rock New Member

    UK, English
    Can't "dar una de cal y otra de arena", in the context of a relationship, mean "to blow hot and cold"??
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2016
  12. epovo

    epovo Senior Member

    Spanish Spain
    I believe "blow hot and cold" conveys indecision, continually changing your mind. You give someone "una de cal y otra de arena" when you try to keep them motivated (cal) but not over-confident (arena).
  13. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo moderator

    American English
    She can also "play good cop/bad cop" -- a reference to two police officer partners, one of them pretends to be uncontrollably angry in order to alienate the person, and the other who prentends to be the person's friend in order to get information from the person.

  14. Noty

    Noty Member

    Spain (spanish)
    Creía que 'play hard to get' significaba más bien 'hacerse el difícil' más que 'una de cal y otra de arena'. Al fin y al cabo, 'hacerse el difícil' es resistirse y el otro es a veces resistirse, y otras no.

  15. x9nium Member

    Hay una frase que creo que podría venir a significar algo similar

    "The hand strikes, then gives a flower . . ." Es la expresión más parecida que conozco en inglés a una de cal y otra de arena, en el sentido de cometer una buena acción y una mala o viceversa

    Que os parece?
  16. Criss in ireland New Member

    Dublin, Ireland
    Spain, spanish (learning english)
    Lo cierto es que sigo sin saber ninguna frase que realmente haga referencia a "dar una de cal y otra de arena".

    En el diccionario de Oxford dice :

    La vida te da una de cal y otra de arena: life is full of ups and downs.

    Sin embargo no sé cómo usar esto para decir por ejemplo "me gustar dar una de cal y otra de arena".

    Buscando por la web he encontrado un artículo en que se acerca a lo que todos estamos intentando definir.

    "Keep a little window of hope for the person you are trying to play hard to get with. Do not take this game too far. You need to remember to keep the perfect balance of hot and cold. Otherwise, your target may consider you impossible and give up.

    Sin embargo, creo que no existe ninguna frase que haga referencia con las mismas connotaciones que en español...

    ¿Qué pensais? Alguien ha encontrado alguna frase concreta de decir en inglés nuestro valisos "dar una de cal y otra de arena"???

  17. gurseal Senior Member

    USA Southeast
    English - USA
    There is a Celia Cruz recording, "Cal y arena," that paints a picture of a boyfriend who tends to disappear from the relationship without so much as a word, presumably to be with another woman. He returns to [Celia] as if nothing happened and expects her to put up with him.

    The Oxford Spanish Dictionary says that "una de cal y otra de arena" means something nice followed by something less pleasant. It goes on to give an example that in English involves taking the good with the bad (aceptar lo bueno con lo malo).

    I still don't understand whether the phrase refers to the two women or to the good and bad situations for Celia.

    Perhaps the perspective of the boyfriend in the song is an example of the explanation that Epova gave in an earlier post.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  18. Criss in ireland New Member

    Dublin, Ireland
    Spain, spanish (learning english)

    The prhase makes reference to the way in which this relationship gives her both thing (bads and goods). She loves him. He played dirty with her (bad = cal) but then he came back to her cause "he does love her" (good = arena)...I know this is not the best example of "love", but i think its the meaning Celia wanna give to the prhase.

    We use "una de cal y otra de arena" in different contexts. In my opinion, the famous one is when you use it to talk about relationships. For example, if i like a boy and i want he to play hard to get my heart...i will give him "una de cal y otra de arena". Sometimes i'll show him my feelings and other times i'll act as if i didnt like him.

    I hope it can help you

    *Sorry for my english :eek:..
  19. gurseal Senior Member

    USA Southeast
    English - USA
    Gracias, Criss. Ahora entiendo.
  20. Peruvianvoice New Member

    Lima, Peru
    Spanish - Peru
    Hello guys, greetings from Peru. I have been checking your suggestions and I have a couple more. Here in Peru we use the expression "unas son de cal y otras son de arena" (in plural) and we use it when we want to express that we cannot have only good things in our lives since life brings good things and bad things too. In that case I would go with the equivalent: "life is full of ups and downs" but the expression given by the WR dictionnary is also valid as general context. The use in Spain of the expression is Spanish is new for me but from the descriptions I understand is "to play hard to get by blowing hot and cold" as epovo mentioned. Hope I helped.
  21. alioth1 Member

    Isle of Man / Isla de Man
    English - British
    He visto esta frase en un contexto diferente.

    En un foro, alguien nos escribió este mensaje, sobre el lamentable éxito de los xenofobios del Partido Nacional Británico en las elecciones europeas:

  22. Esternocleido

    Esternocleido Senior Member

    Castilian Spanish
    Un hilo muy interesante, aunque sigue sin estar claro, ¿verdad?

    "Play hard to get" es más bien "hacerse de rogar". En el contexto de una relación amorosa puede valer como "una de cal y otra de arena", pero esta última expresión es mucho más general.

    "... ups and downs" son "altibajos". También puede valer, pero sigue sin transmitir claramente el significado de la expresión que nos ocupa.

    "Carrot and stick" me suena a "tener un ten con ten", es decir ser rígido en unas ocasiones y flexible en otras. Sólo se aproxima al objetivo.

    Creo que la clave es que "dar una de cal y otra de arena" no sólo se refiere a relaciones sentimentales. De hecho ése no suele ser su uso. Esta expresión describe sobre todo el rendimiento o la actuación de alguien en su trabajo, en su ocupación. Ejemplo al respecto de un estudiante: "Pedro se esfuerza pero sigue dando una de cal y otra de arena: muy bien en matemáticas pero fatal en historia"

    ¿Algún equivalente de esto último en inglés?

  23. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo moderator

    American English
    No se me ocurre ninguna expresión que se utilizaría de la manera que dices, Esternocliedo. Pero muy interesante e informativo tu mensaje. Gracias.
  24. Markdowd Member

    I have seen many English translations of "dar una de cal y otra de arena.."

    "to take the rough with the smooth", "six of one and half a dozen of the other", and "something nice followed by something unpleasant.."

    However, these all have very distinct and different meanings!! I am inclined to think it is more, "you can't separate the good things in life from the bad," but if anyone has a good sense of how this is actually applied in a real linguistic setting, I'd be grateful!!
  25. ACQM

    ACQM Senior Member

    Manresa (Barcelona)
    Spain - Spanish
    Se refiere a personas o situaciones que son cambiantes y a veces resultan favorables/agradables y a veces es todo lo contrario.

    Lo intento con ejemplos:

    Mi madre siempre me da una da cal y una de arena, por ejemplo, ayer me dijo me "gusta ese vestido pero si perdieras peso te quedaría mejor".

    En este trabajo nunca se sabe, un día todo va bien, al día siguiente todo son problemas, siempre es una de cal y otra de arena.
  26. abb1025

    abb1025 Senior Member

    English USA
    I've never heard "take the rough with the smooth," but I often hear "you have to take the bad with the good."

    I think it fits fairly well with the two examples ACQM gives us. When it comes to my mother, you have to take the good with the bad, for example. . . .
    In this job, you never know, one day everything's fine, the next everythings a mess; you have to take the good with the bad.

    It's not exactly the same, of course.
  27. Markdowd Member

    In English... "take the rough with the smooth...".

    ¡Me lo has explicado muy bien y te agradezco mucho!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2016
  28. poetaenlaluna

    poetaenlaluna Senior Member

    Creo que la mejor traducción que he encontrado seria simplemente: "it's good and bad"
    Si según el contexto se refiere a cal y arena como algo que ambiguo, entonces es "good and bad"
  29. pachanga7 Senior Member

    Southeastern U.S.
    English - US
    It seems this is one expression that must be translated variously depending on the context.

    In the case of the mom who criticizes her daughter's weight while complimenting the dress, you could say "My mom is always giving back-handed compliments."
    In the case of the student you could say "Pedro tries hard but his results are mixed/spotty/uneven."
  30. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Crug Hywel
    UK English
    Interesting thread, definitely agree that in BE usage six of one and half of the other is about responsibility. Good news bad news strikes me as a possibility. Here's an example of how it's used. Imagine you went for an interview. You get a job but it's not ideal because you don't like the boss, the location, pay.. Here's the good news I got the job but the bad news is that it's on a zero hours contract.
  31. Yiyi

    Yiyi New Member

    Barcelona, Spain
    Venezuela Spanish
    Would be accurate to use "Some days you´re the pidgeon and some das you´re the statue" as a translation of "Unas son de cal otras son de arena"? I believe they are equivalent but I would love to know your opinion.
  32. Markdowd Member

    I've never come across the pigeon/statue idiom, but I think it accurately captures the sense of "cal y arena."
  33. yirgster

    yirgster Senior Member

    USA, English
    Un ejemplo de es.euronews.com:

    Peter Sagan [del equipo Tinkoff] fue el vencedor de la segunda etapa del Tour de Francia ...
    Una de cal y otra de arena para el Tinkoff. Alberto Contador, sufrió, por segundo día consecutivo, una caída.​

    En este contexto creo que se podría decir cualquiera de las siguientes, o algo similar:

    It's the good and the bad for Tinkoff ...

    It's good times, bad times for Tinkoff ...

    It [or: The wind] blows hot and cold for Tinkoff ...​
  34. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Crug Hywel
    UK English
    Se me ocurre otra posibilidad una de cal y otra de arena would be something that is a mixed blessing - it isn't all good but it isn't all bad either.
  35. Turbo7 New Member

    Spanish - Spain

    Or ‘I got mixed feelings about it’ porque hay elementos buenos y malos al mismo tiempo. Sin embargo, en todo este thread nadie ha puesto la expresión que me parece más acertada cuando se habla de noticias buenas y malas sobre uno o varios eventos: ‘bittersweet’ que da a entender un antagonismo muy claramente ? Yo a veces he utilizado ‘sweet and sour news’ también - y lo he encontrado en una noticia de The Telegraph sobre Britain’s drinkers por aquello de que el abuso de bebidas azucaradas o alcohol no es bueno para nuestra salud, en cambio un vaso de vino al día, a priori según ‘research’ sí lo es ;) pero sin lugar a dudas ‘That was bittersweet’ se acerca mucho al concepto de ‘cal y arena’...(Carrot & Stick es más bien el concepto de premio vs castigo, aunque por supuesto eso tiene algo de + y -)

    Aquí en Word Reference ya se ha publicado una variante ‘the bitter with the sweet’ que creo es menos utilizada en base a mi experiencia viviendo ya más de 10 años fuera:

    una de cal y otra de arena - Diccionario Inglés-Español WordReference.com

    Espero que esto ayude a los que todavía estén dudando o buscando alguna alternativa mejor : al final se utiliza muchísimo simplemente lo de ‘Bad news: ... but the good news is ...’ para compensar un poco como ‘no hay mal que por bien no venga’ - pues nada, suerte a todos con sus traducciones ! :)

    Un saludo,

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