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play one's card

English translation: work with one's advantages, act cleverly

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:play one's card
English translation:work with one's advantages, act cleverly
Entered by: Balasubramaniam L.
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23:13 May 14, 2005
English to English translations [PRO]
General / Conversation / Greetings / Letters
English term or phrase: play one's card
I often read "play one's card" and want to use it in the translation below but never for sure know the exact meaning, does it have negative nuance? something dirty?


Actually it is easy for the private sector to participate in the electricity sector since there is still the Law No.15/1985 on electricity. Beside that, since early this year the government regulation No.3/2005 has taken effect. Thus, there is a legal certainty. So far, there are many investors actually who want to invest in the power sector but cannot participate due to the unfair tender process and state-owned electricity firm usually PLAY ITS CARD
xxxmockingbird
work with one's advantages, act cleverly
Explanation:
The phrase means "make good of one's chances, act smartly".

In this case, a related idiom "throw their weight" may be more relevant. It means "use their influence, act with unpleasant self-assertiveness", which is exactly what state-owned state-owned electrictity firms would in any tendering process in a largely government-controlled situation.

It is usually "cards" not "card" and the pharse is followed by a positive term like "wisely" or "well". The phrase itself has a positive meaning.
Selected response from:

Balasubramaniam L.
India
Local time: 13:36
Grading comment
Thanks, "gains the upper hand" is good too, but make good of one's chances/act smartly fits my context more because it suggest an action (active)
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +5block competitorsCharlie Bavington
5play one´s cardSMarie Madeleine Glück
3 +2gains the upper hand" or "wins hands down"RHELLER
4 +1use ones possibly unfair advantage
Mark Nathan
4Not negative....Anna Maria Augustine at proZ.com
3work with one's advantages, act cleverly
Balasubramaniam L.


Discussion entries: 9





  

Answers


5 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
use ones possibly unfair advantage


Explanation:
The English in your text is a bit jumbled.
But sticking to the card business, the expression I think you want is "play their trump card" i.e. a card which no one else can win against.

Mark Nathan
France
Local time: 10:06
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 82

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  juvera: Or "play their cards right".
17 mins
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9 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Not negative....


Explanation:
Maybe keep it singular because the other expression is to put one's cards on the table which is different.
Imagine it like a game of cards and you have a hand of cards, so you decide to play your best card, an ace or something...

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Note added at 14 mins (2005-05-14 23:27:31 GMT)
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Here are some examples:

a. Something, such as an advantageous circumstance or tactical maneuver, that can be used to help gain an objective. Often used with play: \"[He believed that] Soviet Russia ... had far more Iranian cards to play than the United States\" Theodore Draper.
b. An appeal to a specified issue or argument, usually one involving strong emotions. Often used with play: \"His exposure as a racist ... allowed the defense to play the race card\" New York Times.


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Note added at 48 mins (2005-05-15 00:01:24 GMT)
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Stick to participate. It\'s better.
It really is a 2nd question from kudoz points point of view.

Anna Maria Augustine at proZ.com
France
Local time: 10:06
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in FrenchFrench
PRO pts in category: 24
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +5
block competitors


Explanation:
If that's what you're trying to say, then say that :-)

Metaphors with cards are many and varied - to play an ace, play a trump card, play a <qualifier, e.g. race> card, to play one's cards right, to lay one's cards on the table, etc.

Without wishing to be unkind, you don't appear to know exactly how best to use them, so don't. Besides, in a "blocking competitors" sense, it's hard to make one fit - play one's cards right *could* work but as a reader you need to know the aim - play your cards right to achieve what, exactly? Just "play its card right." won't work.

Your desire to use metaphors is laudable, but just won't work here. In this case, you mean "block competitors", say "block competitors" and save the card metaphors for another time :-)

Charlie Bavington
Local time: 09:06
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  RHELLER: good point and "play one's card" does not fit here anyway
26 mins

agree  Refugio
1 hr

agree  Balaban Cerit
5 hrs

agree  xxxAlfa Trans
13 hrs

agree  conejo: I agree... I see what the asker is trying to get across with the "card" analogy, but it is a bit unclear to the reader exactly what sort of action the state-owned electricity firm is taking
1 day14 hrs
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +2
gains the upper hand" or "wins hands down"


Explanation:
sounds to me like the state-owned electricity firm usually "exerts its influence" or "gains the upper hand" "wins hands down"

"gains the upper hand" -If a person or organization gains the upper hand, they take control over something.

participate does not mean the same thing as enter into


    Reference: http://www.learn-english-today.com/idioms/idioms_proverbs.ht...
RHELLER
United States
Local time: 02:06
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 92

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Anna Maria Augustine at proZ.com
13 mins
  -> thanks Anna!

agree  Balaban Cerit
4 hrs
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3 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
play one's cards (well)
work with one's advantages, act cleverly


Explanation:
The phrase means "make good of one's chances, act smartly".

In this case, a related idiom "throw their weight" may be more relevant. It means "use their influence, act with unpleasant self-assertiveness", which is exactly what state-owned state-owned electrictity firms would in any tendering process in a largely government-controlled situation.

It is usually "cards" not "card" and the pharse is followed by a positive term like "wisely" or "well". The phrase itself has a positive meaning.

Balasubramaniam L.
India
Local time: 13:36
Native speaker of: Native in HindiHindi
PRO pts in category: 28
Grading comment
Thanks, "gains the upper hand" is good too, but make good of one's chances/act smartly fits my context more because it suggest an action (active)
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9 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
play one´s cardS


Explanation:
play one´s card: to deal or act in a calculating manner to gain an end.
show one´s card: to reveal one´s plan.
speak by the card: to speak precisely.
stack the cards: to arrange secretly or unfairly.
hold all the cards: to have complete control
card up one´s sleeve: a plan in reserve.
give cards and spades: to give or concede a generous advantage (US, informal speech). Maybe you can pick the one more suitable to your context.

all from World book dictionary

Marie Madeleine Glück
Local time: 10:06
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in FrenchFrench
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