El tiempo vuela como una flecha; la fruta vuela como una banana.

English Translation

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

Is this an idiomatic saying in Spanish somewhere, as it’s a rather odd sentence in English?

Actually, I’ve found to be quite a common saying in English, and I must have heard it tens or hundreds of times over the years. One of my friends used to find it a witty thing to say when they had to leave and rush off to do something else.

I’ll explain the English joke for the benefit of any non-native speakers.

In English it is a play on the dual meaning of both of the words “flies” and “like” in each of the two phrases.

In the first part, “flies” is a verb, and “like” is a preposition meaning “similar to”. The natural reaction for the second part is then to reuse this interpretation of the two words which gives an image of a piece of fruit flying through the air (in the same way that a banana would fly through the air).

However, the intended interpretation of the second part is that “flies” is a part of the compound noun “fruit flies” (i.e. the plural of “fruit fly”, the common name of the insect species Drosophila or Tephritidae), and “like” is now the verb meaning “to be attracted to, to appreciate, to find pleasurable, to love” etc.

Therefore the phrase should be interpreted as something like “Time passes quickly in a similar manner to the rapid flight of an arrow; insects of the families Drosophila and Tephritidae are attracted to a banana.”

The second part in Spanish should therefore be something like a las moscas de la fruta gusta una banana (apologies for any grammatical and vocabulary errors in my Spanish).

I’ve just checked over at Tatoeba, and there are three Spanish interpretations of the English sentence, and as well as the one here there is one that refers to a mythical creature known as the “time fly” :joy: -
El tiempo vuela como una flecha; a las moscas de la fruta les gustan los plátanos.
A las moscas del tiempo les gustan las flechas, a las moscas de la fruta les gustan los plátanos.

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