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I guess the literal meaning for "no era para echarse a morir" is:

NO(t the right) time to lie to death.

But, I also found an English equivalent for this as follows:

that was no reason to die (Grossman)

That seems to be an idiom in Spanish but I could not find it among idioms. So, what does "no era para echarse a morir" really mean?

More context of the sentence follows:

Sin muchas esperanzas, porque el teléfono de la vecina donde la llamaba seguía cortado y no tenía la menor idea de dónde vivía. Pero no era para echarse a morir, qué carajo, dijo, te llamo en una hora.

From "Memorias de mis putas tristes", Gabriel García Márquez.

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    Anyone in favor of creating the memorias-de-mis-putas-tristes tag? :) Just joking, please keep asking! – Charlie Jun 30 '16 at 13:14
  • @CarlosAlejo OMG is it because the book is written with so many subtleties or only because I am very novice in Spanish?! – codezombie Jun 30 '16 at 23:09
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    That was just a joke, I said it because we usually create a tag when there are enough questions regarding a certain theme, and you asked three questions in a row about the same book, just that. I don't think you are a novice at all, if you are reading that book. Besides, the questions you ask show you have a good understanding of Spanish and want to know more, so we encourage you to keep asking. – Charlie Jul 1 '16 at 6:37
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    @CarlosAlejo thank you it's a pleasure to ask and learn when there are good people eager to answer :) – codezombie Jul 1 '16 at 9:23
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Here in Colombia when we say "echarse a morir" is used when a person is so depressed that just sits or lays doing nothing but waiting to die.

As you can imagine it usually does not end in actual death.

In this case the expression means that the situation is not that big of a deal so you would wish you were dead.

The equivalent most used in english is:

It's not the end of the world.

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    +1 That sounds right. The other answers are close to this one, but the verb "echarse" sounds a bit weird with their interpretation. One always learns something new here! – Yay Jun 30 '16 at 16:01
  • Thanks @Yay. Yes the verb "echar" is not an easy one for people just learning Spanish. In RAE it has 48 meanings. In this case we are using acceptation 43 (Tenderse=lay down), and to make matters worst for beginners there is echo vs hecho – DGaleano Jun 30 '16 at 16:20
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"Pero no era para morir" can be understood as it wasn't transcendent/important enough to die for.

In English you can find similar sayings like "It wasn't that big of a deal".

In the story, the woman who goes to track the girl gets annoyed by the man who is impatient and nervous so he tells him that it isn't that big of a deal, and that she will call him in an hour, probably implying that with the location of the girl.

If you read a little more, the man says that she arrived three days later with the girl and that he felt embarrassed.

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  • Agree with "It wasn't that big of a deal". From Spain. – nada Jul 1 '16 at 11:00
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This is a widely used idiom.
It's equivalent to say no era para tomárselo a pecho.

When we imply that something is not para echarse a morir or tomárselo a pecho, means that the person does not need to take the situation drastically as if it was the end of the world.

In this context, you can replace pero no era para echarse a morir as pero no es el fin del mundo/que más da, etc.

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  • Maybe it is widely used in America, but I have never read/heard/used it in Spain – Miguel Jul 1 '16 at 7:18
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After having looked at a few snippets where this is used through google the closest I can think of in meaning in English would be "Not yet ready to give up", and if not as antiquarian in your language as I am DGaleano pointed out a nicer usage: "Not reason enough to give up" (though for literary purposes I like "not having shuffled off this mortal coil").

After reading up on this, I have been thinking about translation principles (notably that directly literal translation usually misses the meaning), so

Sin muchas esperanzas, porque el teléfono de la vecina donde la llamaba seguía cortado y no tenía la menor idea de dónde vivía. Pero no era para echarse a morir, qué carajo, dijo, te llamo en una hora.

Literally translates to:

Without much hope, because your neighbour which was called cut and had no idea where she lived. But it was not to lie down to die, what the fuck he said, I'll call you in an hour.

However when reading the Spanish, the following feels more correct:

"He didn't hold out much hope, as the call on the neighbour's phone could cut out anytime and he had no idea where she lived. What the hell, it won't kill me, I'll call you in an hour."

And I know it is not the literal exact copy of the snippet above, but from that snippet I think this holds better to the meaning. I will get the book and read it, see how I manage with translating the quote once I have it in context.

I will try and find some books at home to quote from properly.

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  • I would say it is more like "Not reason enough to give up" than "not yet ready..." – DGaleano Jun 30 '16 at 16:01
  • Agreed, I shall add you as the accredited source above :) – GMasucci Jul 1 '16 at 9:43
  • Let me clarify something. The sentence "el teléfono de la vecina donde la llamaba seguía cortado" means something different. In this case he used to call her to a neighbor's phone and that phone was "cut" which means "suspended by the phone company usually because of overdue bills". At some point in time not everybody had a phone and sometimes there was only one phone in every block or perhaps she could not answer on her house phone because some other issue. (I'm not sure about the time frame because I haven't read the book and I'm not going to) – DGaleano Jul 1 '16 at 14:00
  • Thanks, it has been some years (over a decade) since I spoke Spanish aloud to anyone, think it is time to re-practice! – GMasucci Jul 1 '16 at 14:19
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    Great to have you here. All answers are welcome and if there are things where you/I can improve, someone will let you/me know. Happy practicing. – DGaleano Jul 1 '16 at 14:53

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