Funny expressions: "Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda." | SpanishDict Answers
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Which means: no dress can make an ugly woman beautiful.

Which is a matter of opinion (wink, wink).

Anyway, I have read about this lipstick and pigs on the Obama and Mc Cain campaign. I only just listened to it on YouTube.

In the Spanish papers, this phrase was compared to the above sentence...but I am wondering which sentence they exactly meant. Obviously, Obama sort of "adapted" the saying.

I would also like to add, that the sentence used in Spain is rather offensive if said to a woman directly. It certainly sounds even worse using instead of monkey pig

Is the above saying understood in other countries likewe use it in Spain'

  • Posted Sep 16, 2008
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26 Answers

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In English we would use the pig analogy.
You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

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In Guatemala, I learned the exprension mentioned above when I was an elementary shool student. It was a song that I learned from a text book. But, I never heard people used it. To me it meant that even if some one gives himself airs, at the end he is still himself.

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oh...that's the one?

So, why would he say: put a lipstick on a pig...it is still a pig.

It isn't even close to the original saying. I know he is referrign to this pittbul and lipstick thing...but anyway.

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Roughly, "That's like putting lipstick on a pig!" (I'm sure there are regional variants). The main sense is of a wasted (and obviously futile effort to cover up a bad situation). Despite the usual association of lipstick with women, it's not specifically meant to apply to (or be a slur on) women but, rather, to an attempt to disguise that which is inherently ugly/bad. A related expression (old saw) in English is "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."

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So, why would he say: put a lipstick on a pig...it is still a pig.

This saying has been in use for many years by Washington politicians (and in fact was used by McCain in a speech last November), and has nothing to do with women. In that respect it is unlike the Spanish saying. As others have explained, it merely means that dressing something up doesn't change what it really is.

In the context of Obama's speech, he was trying to say that while McCain talks a lot about bringing "change" to Washington, it's only talk, and no matter how he dresses it up, it is still four more years of Bush. (Please note that I am explaining what Obama was saying, not saying it myself.)

I know he is referrign to this pittbul and lipstick thing

Actually, that is not at all clear. There are those who are convinced he was making a reference to Palin, but just as many others who say that he was just using a common political phrase to drive home his point. I've seen the video myself, and I'm not sure either way. He is a very smart man, though, and it would have been foolish to say such a thing with the intentional purpose of mocking Palin.

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In regard to Heidita's Spanish sentence:

You can dress up a dog [or chicken, or whatever the speaker wants to say], but it's still a dog.

You can put a tuxedo on a monkey, but it's still a monkey.

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Mutton dressed as lamb!

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James Santiago said:

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I always hated this saying. in spanish. mona se viste de seda mona se queda. it was a racist statement from time back at the turn of slavery in the caribbean. or even furture back when house slaves for la corona portuguesa y espanola wore fine clothing. some female slaves were look on as beautiful by their masters but the wives or women of class or nobleza always wanted to re-affirm that they were still slaves no matter what they wore. common word for a slave woman was negra/ prieta or MONA. sad actually. a little history lesson.

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Heidita said:

James Santiago said:

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"Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda."
Just checking.
I read this more literally as the monkey dressed in silk. Does vestirse de seda have a more general meaning as in 'to dress up' then?
ie Natasha mentioned a tuxedo

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Natasha and James: as you can see from my original post, I thought the saying was actually "adapted". I did not think, and this is surely also thought by others who do not know the saying well, that in the original saying there was no lipstick involved.
I am stunned.

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You can dress up a dog [or chicken, or whatever the speaker wants to say], but it's still a dog.
You can put a tuxedo on a monkey, but it's still a monkey.
You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
Mutton dressed as lamb!

I have a nice collection now.

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vestirse is more like to dress one's self or dresses. although the monkey dresses in silk (fine clothing) moneky she remains.

tad said:

"Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda."Just checking.I read this more literally as the monkey dressed in silk. Does vestirse de seda have a more general meaning as in 'to dress up' then'ie Natasha mentioned a tuxedo

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Heidita said:

You can dress up a dog [or chicken, or whatever the speaker wants to say], but it's still a dog.You can put a tuxedo on a monkey, but it's still a monkey.You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.Mutton dressed as lamb!I have a nice collection now.


Heidita, although along the same lines, the 'Mutton dressed as lamb' example is specifically for an older person (usually a woman) that dresses in clothes (and make-up) really only suitable for a younger person

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