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Autor:  Dale/RS
E-mail:  dale.thomas@hy.com.br
Data:  30/DEZ/2005 12:11 PM
Assunto:  AmSlang #21

(a) A leopard can't/doesn't change his/its spots. = How a person behaved in the past is a good indication of how he will behave in the future.  (This always refers to negative traits.)

He stole before and he will steal again.  A leopard can't its spots.
She spent three years at that school and she was never a good student.  I can't imagine her suddenly changing and studying like the others.  A leopard doesn't change his spots.


(b) Baker's dozen = Thirteen. (Centuries ago, bakers were severely punished if they gave less than the correct amount of baked goods.  Instead of giving 12 items and calling them a dozen, just to be save they would add 1 item.)

There was about a baker's dozen of boys in the room.
I counted a baker's dozen of flowers in the vase.

(c) Ball and chain (better half, bitter half) = spouse, wife, husband  ("Ball and chain" refers to the steel ball and chain that prisoners were forced to wear to prevent them from escaping.  These terms are meant to be humorous.)

Henry, I want you to meet my ball and chain.
This is Jack, my better half.
Have you seen my bitter half?  We need to leave soon.
(d) Close, but no cigar. = Not quite correct/accurate.  (This expression probably came from carnival games in which the prize was a cigar.  It would be said when a customer almost won but didn't.)

Q1:  Are you a gangster?
A1:  Close, but no cigar.  I'm a politician.

Q2:  Are you 37 years old?
A2:  No, I'm 39.  Close, but no cigar.


(e) To go out on a limb = To guess, speculate, risk failure or ridicule  (The farther out on a limb you climb, the greater the possibility of a fall.) 

I'm going to go out on a limb and give you a job although I don't know you very well.
She went out on a limb when she lent him the money, but he paid her back as promised.
He went out on a limb and promised the project would be completed within ten days.

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 English Made in Brazil -- English, Portuguese, & contrastive linguistics
 AmSlang #21  –  Dale/RS  30/DEZ/2005, 12:11 PM

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