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Can someone give me a less literal translation of this saying?

Se quede solo y todo se le hace un mundo

I’m having a hard time wording this where native English speakers understand better.

They’re talking about why an employee they feel is too green (not experienced enough) shouldn’t be left alone in charge.

Would this fit the American saying to make a mountain out of a molehill ?

  • Would this fit the American saying to make a mountain out of a molehill? I thought of it after posting the question – Makillda Lawless Apr 16 '19 at 16:22
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    Se quede solo by itself is not grammatical; maybe you meant Se queda solo. – pablodf76 Apr 16 '19 at 23:15
  • as is now, the question is asking for something in English. Not sure if this would fit better in English Language & Usage. – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Apr 17 '19 at 12:27
  • @fedorqui I felt I could not have come up with my answer without pablodf76 answer so it might not have worked well in ELU either. – mdewey Apr 17 '19 at 12:33
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    @fedorqui one of my mother's sayings was "I am not as green as I am cabbage-looking" so, yes, we do use green in that sense. – mdewey Apr 17 '19 at 12:37
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«Todo se le hace un mundo» literally means "everything becomes a world to him". The reference is to the size (and complexity) of the world. In Spanish there's at least one more expression where un mundo "a world" refers to something too complex or difficult: «Cada familia es (como) un mundo», "Every family is (like) a world".

A world is something too big to grasp or manage. This new employee is getting a world of difficulty from simple things; every new thing in his new job comes to him at once and overwhelms him. Note that the Spanish sentence places no responsibility for this on the employee. He's not "making a mountain out of a molehill" (willingly), he's not doing anything, but things are becoming too much around/for him.

A nice translation that keeps the reference to the world as a scary new place could be: "Everything around him is like a new world"; or maybe "He finds himself in a place that is like an alien world".

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I am not sure whether providing English translation is strictly on topic here but I would have said

When he is left alone he is out of his depth

or

When he is left alone everything gets on top of him

They are not quite exchangeable so more context would help as requested in comments to the question.

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As far I can see, you already understood the saying since you did mention:

They are talking about why a 'too green' employee should not be left alone.

Which is true, but the thing is that in Spanish, the same words can mean different things depending on context.

The translation

So, with this, a relative translation to English, using the context you used (a new or unexperienced employee at his job) would be:

He can't do it by himself yet. He sees everything as the most difficult thing ever.

He as no experience, therefore he can't do it himself.

He's not able to do anything by himself right now. It's hard for him.

Hope this helps you, and about your comment I'm not pretty sure that if it's related, since the saying itself is like a description of a person not being able to do something due to his lack of experience and this causing him to see every labour too difficult. Greetings!

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