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Thanks. When I hovered I wasn't getting that last word at all for some reason. Even though they're teaching us the equivalent translations, I always like to know the literal translations foe these idioms. It helps me understand the culture behind the language a bit more. If that makes sense.
Given the way Duolingo works, I think it has to do it the current way, where it translates idiom for idiom, not word for word. This section isn't about helping us learn new vocabulary words, it's about helping us learn new vocabulary expressions. If we get a bit confused, that's not necessarily a bad thing since it forces us into these discussions, or into google, where we can find out about literal meanings.
Imagine being a Spanish speaker learning English and seeing "Let the cat out of the bag"; how would it help the student if Duolingo accepted something like "Deja el gato salir de la bolsa"? How would the student find out that there was an underlying meaning of "Tell the secret"? Since they got it right, they wouldn't have the same motivation to look further to find out the actual meaning.
Maybe the best solution would be for Duolingo to add a new introductory lesson in the Idioms section where it just introduces all the words in ordinary contexts.
Palo = stick, tree, wood, etc. Astilla = Sliver
Do you mean in translating from that? (As in why is there no "un" in "de tal palo tal astilla"?) It looks like "tal" just doesn't take an article even though the English equivalents do. http://spanish.about.com/od/adjective-use/a/tal.htm