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dar leña al moro

English translation: give the Moroccans a hard time

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04:42 Dec 22, 2010
Spanish to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Journalism / Idiom?
Spanish term or phrase: dar leña al moro
Hello

I'm trying to translate an article in El Pais, http://www.elpais.com/articulo/opinion/Poquer/ases/elpepiopi...

Here they are talking about Aznar going to help in Melilla:
y el que acudió patrióticamente a dar leña al moro, aunque por desdicha con retraso, en la frontera de Melilla.

I can find 'leña al moro' mentioned quite a bit on the web, but I can't work out what it means. Has it got something to do with 'adding fuel to the fire'? like 'leña al fuego' but in terms of race relations?

I'd be very grateful for any help...

Thanks!

Layla
laylam
English translation:give the Moroccans a hard time
Explanation:
add fuel to the flames is echar leña...
dar leña, meter leña, sacudir leña, and (most common, I find) meter caña are all pretty much the same thing: give someone a hard time, give them stick, etc. "Menudo repartidor de leña" is something I've heard people say about a fearsome Kung Fu fighter...
The only question is which English expression captures the tone, which is a subjective judgment. I thought about "give them a drubbing". This being El País and Aznar, there's definitely a sarcastic edge. He is, in their view (and mine, I have to say), a bit pompous, a bit schoolmasterish. There's a suggestion of how he personally will go down there and sort them out, stop them misbehaving. That's what you've got to try to capture, I think.

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Note added at 3 hrs (2010-12-22 07:43:24 GMT)
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Or maybe "sort out the Moroccans" or "bring the Moroccans into line". These are perhaps too free, but are expressions that might be used for taking someone outside and thrashing them, which is the idea.
Close to the original, in fact, could be "give the Moroccans a good thrashing" or "a good hiding". I quite like these because they fit the image of the old-fashioned schoolmaster.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 3 hrs (2010-12-22 07:59:11 GMT)
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The next bit, "aunque por desdicha con retraso", is dripping with sarcasm; the subtext is something like: it's a bit late now; where was he when it was actually going on? And "patrióticamente"! They really, really don't like Aznar at El País.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 3 hrs (2010-12-22 08:23:14 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

And "al moro", or course, is a very ex-colonial, not to say racist, way of putting it. Almost "the wogs" or "the fuzzy-wuzzies". But I think it'll have to be just "the Moroccans", and save the sarcasm for "dar leña".
Selected response from:

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 04:07
Grading comment
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +5give the Moroccans a hard time
Charles Davis
4give the moor hell / a hard time
baligh
3be hard on the Moroccans
John Cutler
Summary of reference entries provided
Dar leña
Lisa McCarthy

  

Answers


2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
be hard on the Moroccans


Explanation:
I think this is similar to the expression "meter leña".

Perhaps...
...to be hard on the Moroccans...

John Cutler
Spain
Local time: 04:07
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +5
give the Moroccans a hard time


Explanation:
add fuel to the flames is echar leña...
dar leña, meter leña, sacudir leña, and (most common, I find) meter caña are all pretty much the same thing: give someone a hard time, give them stick, etc. "Menudo repartidor de leña" is something I've heard people say about a fearsome Kung Fu fighter...
The only question is which English expression captures the tone, which is a subjective judgment. I thought about "give them a drubbing". This being El País and Aznar, there's definitely a sarcastic edge. He is, in their view (and mine, I have to say), a bit pompous, a bit schoolmasterish. There's a suggestion of how he personally will go down there and sort them out, stop them misbehaving. That's what you've got to try to capture, I think.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 3 hrs (2010-12-22 07:43:24 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Or maybe "sort out the Moroccans" or "bring the Moroccans into line". These are perhaps too free, but are expressions that might be used for taking someone outside and thrashing them, which is the idea.
Close to the original, in fact, could be "give the Moroccans a good thrashing" or "a good hiding". I quite like these because they fit the image of the old-fashioned schoolmaster.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 3 hrs (2010-12-22 07:59:11 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

The next bit, "aunque por desdicha con retraso", is dripping with sarcasm; the subtext is something like: it's a bit late now; where was he when it was actually going on? And "patrióticamente"! They really, really don't like Aznar at El País.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 3 hrs (2010-12-22 08:23:14 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

And "al moro", or course, is a very ex-colonial, not to say racist, way of putting it. Almost "the wogs" or "the fuzzy-wuzzies". But I think it'll have to be just "the Moroccans", and save the sarcasm for "dar leña".

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 04:07
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 112
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thank you! Very, very helpful.


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  MPGS: :)
1 hr
  -> Many thanks :)

agree  Jenni Lukac: or make life difficult for... (It's a play on the phrase Lisa cites.)
2 hrs
  -> Many thanks, Jenni :) Happy Christmas, by the way, and to everyone else!

agree  Noni Gilbert: I coincided with your "sort them out".
2 hrs
  -> Thanks, Noni. Happy Christmas :)

agree  Eileen Banks
3 hrs
  -> Thanks, Eileen :)

agree  Thayenga
20 hrs
  -> Thanks, Thayenga :)
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4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
give the moor hell / a hard time


Explanation:
"Moro" is a racist term making reference to north African Arabs in general, it remains in the Spanish vocabulary since the so-called Reconquista. (Since Melilla is a colony on the Moroccan frontier, "moro" here refers to Moroccans, but generally speaking it is "moor")

"Dar leña" means "to give sombody hell" (a hard time).

Good luck

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Note added at 4 hrs (2010-12-22 09:29:55 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Give the moor or give the moors hell

baligh
Spain
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in ArabicArabic, Native in SpanishSpanish
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Reference comments


2 hrs
Reference: Dar leña

Reference information:
'Dar leña a alguien' means to beat them up, give them a thrashing/a hiding.

There's also another expression Dar leña al mono' (maybe it's 'mono' instead of 'moro', but I doubt it.) See link below.

http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=580623

Lisa McCarthy
Spain
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 32
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