Category Archives: tricky translations

de la misma quinta

de la misma quinta [expression] – born in the same year; in the same school year; roughly the same age


Tom y Oscar son de la misma quinta.

Some words and expressions just don’t work in translation. And when you speak other languages these words pop into your head and trip up your native tongue on a regular basis. If you’re chatting to someone who speaks both languages, you just drop in a word of the other language and no problem, ¡viva el spanglish! This is called code-switching and bilingual kids do it all the time. My youngest son is a master code-switcher, and my bilingual mum-friends here in Madrid are pretty switchy when we get together too.

Today’s expression is a prime example of the cacao in my head (whoops, there I go again!) An email in my inbox from my hero, zen-productivity guru Leo Babauta, was inviting all readers to a free video course on mindfulness, to celebrate Leo’s 44th birthday this year. Every year when Leo sends out these generous gifts I always smile and think to myself, “Somos de la misma quinta“.

It’s like saying, “We were born in the same year” or “We’re roughly the same age”, but the English equivalent phrases don’t have the “in the same boat” feeling to them. I guess it’s the use of the verb “ser”, like we’re members of the same club, as opposed to the passive “we were born” thing or the “roughly” thing, that dilute the feeling of sameness in English.

According to this post, the expression has a military origin. Each annual intake in the army is a new quinta – a word deriving from 18th century Spain, when one in five young men were drafted into military service each year.

Anyway, I signed up to Leo’s course, because I’ve been in a bit of a funk of late and a good dose of mindfulness is sure to sort me out. Fancy joining me? If so, sign up here.