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through Jeremy Butterfield.In discovering Spanish, word origins.2 comments on The rain in Spain stays mainly on the … ; What does the mean? La llluvia en Sevilla es unamaravilla


Everyone knows the saying “the rain in Spain…”, but where does the come from and what does the mean?

Let’s obtain one point straight, first: the precise original wording the this expression that has taken source so strongly in English. Is it:


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I had constantly assumed the it came from the 1964 movie of the music My fair Lady, starring Audrey Hepburn and also Rex Harrison (or “Sexy Rexy”, together my mother and also other committed fans supplied to speak to him).

You are watching: The rain in spain falls mainly on the plane

It is, it seems, several decades older: it very first appeared in the 1938 film variation of George bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. That play was infamous for the expression “Not bloody likely”, the an initial use that the b***** native on the British phase (how times have actually changed!), and the film kept it, thereby becoming the an initial film in which it appeared. The movie spawned a phase play (1956) i m sorry begat My fair Lady (1964).

It has, the course, no link with the realities that Spanish hydrology. Instead, the is an elocution exercise – one that even today part pronunciation Nazis can approve of. Gift a nineteenth-century cockney, Eliza Doolittle, the heroine of both play and musical, habitually make rain sound like the flow Rhine, and also thus, through not using the standard or reputation pronunciation, automatically identified herself as socially suspect. “The rain in Spain stays greatly in the plain” was the remedial drill enforced on she by her mentor, Professor Higgins – or, as she would call him, ’Iggins.

Generally misquoted

It’s interesting that most civilization in the little sample I’ve acquired from the poll on this blog, and also from Twitter, think that the expression as “The rain in Spanish falls mostly on the plain.” The adjust is logical. What does rain typically do? it falls. And where does that fall? ~ above (or onto) something. The transforms to the original present speakers amending it to fit their expertise of English. In the way, they space rather choose eggcorns.

The results for the poll above, as of 18 October, 2016, are:

…falls mainly on the level 47%…stays greatly in the level 28%…falls mostly on the plane (!) 14%…stays mainly on the plain 11%

This earwormy phrase has actually been analyzed into languages as disparate together Estonian, Icelandic, and also Farsi, and many others besides. Translating the English word for word into an additional language has actually scant chance of developing anything remotely catchy, so every language makes use of its very own rhythmic and also rhyming resources.

Thus, the Danish variation translates earlier into English as “A snail top top the road is a authorize of rain in Spain”, the Italian as “The frog in Spain croaks in the country”, when the Portuguese fully removes any kind of mention the Spain: “Behind the train, the troops come trotting.” 1. (Even indigenous the English, you deserve to see the words beginning with tr are what holds that together.)

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Spanish has played with it in at least three versions, 2 of which include the word for “rain”. What is it?

1 “La lluvia en Sevilla es una pura maravilla.”

2 “El juez jugó en Jerez al ajedrez.”

3 “La lluvia en España bellos valles baña.”

Versions 1 and 3, rhyme, as you’ll hear if you speak them the end loud. They likewise contain the twin ll, i m sorry is nowadays generally pronounced likewise to the English y of yes, or, in some parts of Latin America, a little bit like the j of judge.

So, rewriting the indigenous with double ll in 1) to show their pronunciation offers us something really approximately choose yoovia, seviya, and also maraviya.

Verson 2 is a little bit of a tongue-twister (un trabalenguas) because that those whose mother tongue isn’t Spanish. It equates as “The referee played chess in Jerez”, Jerez being, incidentally, the city that offered English words sherry.

Version 3 (“The rain in Spain bathes beautiful valleys”) includes the native bello. Uneven its Italian cousin bello, i beg your pardon is generally used in everyday language, Spanish bello is rather more refined and also literary. The everyday words to say that something is beautiful are hermoso or precioso, or lindo, in Latin Ameri ca. 

La lluvia en Sevilla es una pura maravilla” has end up being so famous in Spanish, that civilization often think it source in Spanish. Apparently, that is regularly simplified by leaving the end the adjective pura, to provide two present of equal size (7 syllables), matching to the Spanish verse type known as copla: La lluvia en Sevilla | Es una maravilla. The Seville execution of the national newspaper ABC even gives the full history of the word

Here’s the referred to as (doblado) into Spanish version of the original English film. It provides the “La lluvia en Sevilla es una pura maravilla” version. If you’d choose to test your comprehension, the diction is perfect. The original English-language variation is in ~ the end of the blog.

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So, where does the actual rain in Spain fall? together Andrew Eames memorably put it: “The rain in Spain no really fall upon the plain at all; top top the contrary, it favours the country’s rocky, steep northwestern corner, where Iberia headbutts the Atlantic. Galicia, in fact.”2

1Dansk: En snegl på vejen er tegn på regn ns Spanien

italiano La rana in Spagna gracida in campagna

português Atrás do trem together tropas vêm trotando

2Something various for the Weekend, p. 143: Bradt travel Guides, Chalfont St Peter, England.