Origin of this quote
March 19, 2010 11:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm considering getting a tattoo that reads, "Vivir con miedo es como vivir a medias," or roughly, "A life lived in fear is a life half lived." I learned of the quote from the film, "Strictly Ballroom," but I can't find any more info on it except that it's listed on some sites as a "Spanish proverb." I'd love to know more about this saying, but I'm not turning up anything online.
posted by trillian to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I grew up bilingual English/Spanish and although this may be the quote from the movie, I'm not really happy with how it is stated and some of the words. (I grew up speaking Spanish in South Texas, which varies from Spanish spoken in Spain, for example. YMMV.)

For the first part of the quote, I would prefer one of the following:

A. "Viviendo con miedo es como viviendo..." which turns into "Living with fear is like living..."
B. "La vida vivida con miedo" --- "the life lived with fear"
C. "Vida con miedo" -- "life with fear"

And I don't like the "a medias" part... while it's correct, "a medias" means something like half... the word "medias" by itself can mean a women's stockings...

My advice is to choose another quote, especially if you have to live with it tattooed to your body for the rest of your life. My humble opinion.
posted by jerryg99 at 12:07 PM on March 19, 2010


Thank you for the advice. I studied Spanish for quite a while, but that was years ago -- I haven't even taken a class in about a decade, so I am very rusty. I definitely wanted to make sure the grammar/usage was correct before making a very permanent decision, so I appreciate your comments!

Hmm, maybe I will be looking for some more quotes along these lines...
posted by trillian at 12:11 PM on March 19, 2010


Why not have it tattooed in English? Then you'll know exactly the connotation it carries and how smoothly it reads. :)
posted by TheNewWazoo at 12:15 PM on March 19, 2010


Hmm, my first language is Spanish and I'm going to respectfully disagree with jerryg99. The wording of it as it was originally stated sounds just like my grandma used to say it. As for where it comes from, no idea.
posted by cobain_angel at 12:19 PM on March 19, 2010


Hmm, my first language is Spanish and I'm going to respectfully disagree with jerryg99. The wording of it as it was originally stated sounds just like my grandma used to say it. As for where it comes from, no idea.

Ah, the plot thickens... Hmm.

Why not have it tattooed in English? Then you'll know exactly the connotation it carries and how smoothly it reads. :)

I considered that, but I just love the Spanish language (and would like to study it again and eventually become fluent), and I wanted to have the quote as it was in the movie, which is one of my favorites. But I'll think about it some more.
posted by trillian at 12:24 PM on March 19, 2010


As someone who does not actively speak Spanish but did minor in it in college, I have to disagree with jerryg99 and agree with cobain_angel: the use of the infinitive in "Vivir con miedo" as opposed to the gerund form "Viviendo con miedo" sounds and flows better, in a more Spain-Spanish or old-timey or Spanish proverb sense.
posted by komara at 12:32 PM on March 19, 2010


I'm with Wazoo. Why not get a tattoo that uses your native language? I'm not downing on Espanol... I've studied it in depth. However, in a million years when alien anthropologists are documenting our extinct cultures and they find your preserved remains you'll be mislabeled... forever misfiled in our galaxy's space google.
posted by Gainesvillain at 12:42 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


My native tongue is spanish.
"Vivir con miedo es como vivir a medias" is the correct frasing. Will respectfully disagree with jerryg99. Actually no one says "viviendo con miedo"

"a medias" is widely used, and no-one mis-understands it or confuses with "medias" meaning women's stocking.

Alternatively, you could change it slightly:
"vivir con miedo, es vivir a medias" (you remove the "como" (is like) )
This gives the phrase a more authoritative stance.
posted by theKik at 12:51 PM on March 19, 2010


I humbly eat my words. Thanks MeFi...
posted by jerryg99 at 1:05 PM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the grammar is definitely correct. The gerund (viviendo) cannot be used as a noun in spanish, as it can in english.

Use the quote from the movie if you like it. Just get it tattoo'd well. Badly done text tattoos are horrible, irrespective of the phrasing!
posted by wooh at 2:33 PM on March 19, 2010


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