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Non English Idioms





HoboPelican
Idioms are great little phrases that every language has and make absolutely no sense to those learning the language. In English we have things like:

To get ones goat. - Really means to irritate someone.
He doesn't know beans about so and so. - He knows nothing about so and so.
Mind your Ps and Qs - to be very careful of your behavior.
Any port in a storm - To use the best of bad alternatives.

Friends of mine from different parts of the world have shared some good ones (like, Take the little horse out of the rain" which apparently means "never mind", I think). But I need more! Take a minute and share some of the better idioms of your native language.
Blaster
Very interesting. There is one in spanish but i can't remember it. But they are some good ones. Very Happy
Traveller
One of my favourites from Spanish is their equivalent of "between a rock and a hard place." Their version is much more graphic, and translates as "between the wall and the sword."
HoboPelican
Traveller wrote:
One of my favourites from Spanish is their equivalent of "between a rock and a hard place." Their version is much more graphic, and translates as "between the wall and the sword."

Wow, I like that one. Much more to the, ahem, point! Laughing
meet in rio
There's one in Spanish which goes "es en el quinto pino" ("it's in the middle of nowhere" or, more literally, "it's in the fifth pine").

I remember writing the equivalent of "my school is in the fourth pine" and sending my teacher into hysterics.

There are a few in French for which I can only remember the English translation:

"he came in wearing a newspaper hat" <-- apparently "looking important" or something.
"ménager le chèvre et le chou"/"to please both the goat and the cabbage" <-- to try to please both sides
HoboPelican
meet in rio wrote:
...
"he came in wearing a newspaper hat" <-- apparently "looking important" or something.
"ménager le chèvre et le chou"/"to please both the goat and the cabbage" <-- to try to please both sides


The newspaper hat even makes sense in english, almost. But the goat and the cabbage... I love that.
IAMED_2
Pretty much the only one I know (and even then it's not very good) is that "petit chou"(sp?) (little cabbage) is (or was) a French term of affection. Shows how much I get out of the country. Razz
aerialdreams
meet in rio wrote:
"ménager le chèvre et le chou"/"to please both the goat and the cabbage" <-- to try to please both sides


OOO! I know that one from French class! Now I feel smart! There's an African idiom that says "The vulture says that it has no business with the barbers." but I have no idea what it means now.... either that I have really bad memory, or that I'm really stupid and can't figure it out... Think
faker_phil
Here's one in German: "Jemanden auf den Arm nehmen"
Literally: To pick somebody up
Means: Kidding somebody.
myrevolt
At the moment none come to me. So here's a weird one:
"En un soplo" (spanish)
literal: "In a blowing"

But I am going to use "es en el quinto pino" somewhere on my next spanish test Twisted Evil Wink

My spanish teacher likes to "prove" that English is a messed up language by bringing in these poems that consist of English idioms and inconsistancies Rolling Eyes
HoboPelican
myrevolt wrote:
At the moment none come to me. So here's a weird one:
"En un soplo" (spanish)
literal: "In a blowing"

But I am going to use "es en el quinto pino" somewhere on my next spanish test Twisted Evil Wink

My spanish teacher likes to "prove" that English is a messed up language by bringing in these poems that consist of English idioms and inconsistancies Rolling Eyes


A friend of mine from venezula told me this one. Instead of saying "you don't know beans about so and so" they said "you don't know potatoes about so and so". Both about equally incomprehensible.

aerialdreams, I found a ref to the vulture thing, and you had it exactly right. Unfortunately, it didn't list a meaning Crying or Very sad
Traveller
myrevolt wrote:
My spanish teacher likes to "prove" that English is a messed up language by bringing in these poems that consist of English idioms and inconsistancies Rolling Eyes


What must that teacher do about "Jabberwocky," then? LOL!
Traveller
HoboPelican wrote:
Both about equally incomprehensible.

That is the very nature of idiomatic expressions, regardless of the language: in many cases, the literal interpretation of the words is completely meaningless.

I a night class in German that I took once, the teacher (from Mainz), cautioned us about idiomatic expressions. For example, if something has "gone to the dogs," the German expression is almost exactly the same: "mit dem Hund gegangen." On the other hand, in English, "I am blue" means "I am sad," but the German equivalent - "ich bin blau," means "I am drunk"! Thus, the attribution of any particular physical or emotional condition to a COLOR makes absolutely no sense, and is strictly idiomatic.

Quite a fascinating subject, actually.
Ms.Pseudo
Traveller wrote:
One of my favourites from Spanish is their equivalent of "between a rock and a hard place." Their version is much more graphic, and translates as "between the wall and the sword."
In Finnish we say the same thing "puun ja kuoren välissä", it means literally something like "between wood (wood of standing tree) and cortex".
"Piece of cake" is "helppo nakki" wich means literally "easy frankfurter (small sausage)" Laughing
HoboPelican
Ms.Pseudo wrote:
Traveller wrote:
One of my favourites from Spanish is their equivalent of "between a rock and a hard place." Their version is much more graphic, and translates as "between the wall and the sword."
In Finnish we say the same thing "puun ja kuoren välissä", it means literally something like "between wood (wood of standing tree) and cortex".
"Piece of cake" is "helppo nakki" wich means literally "easy frankfurter (small sausage)" Laughing


I love these things!

Another common american idiom,

"Not playing with a full deck". Meaning the person is crazy or very dumb. Other variations are common. "one can short of a six pack", "His elevator doesn't go all the way to the top", "one brick shy of a load".
Comrade
there is some good in my language

Dont spit to the well cuz you will need to drink it. <- something like dont
do something to someone cuz ull need to do same.

or

Dont do enything against someone what u dont want someone do the same to you

there is alot more but cant remember. Some r hard totranslate like first
one and i dont know if translated it well lol.
Ms.Pseudo
Comrade wrote:
there is some good in my language

What is your languege? Those idioms sounds quiye weird in English Very Happy
R2.DETARD
one german one i heard today was:
"you shouldn't buy the cat in the sack"
i still have no clue what it means.
Ms.Pseudo
R2.DETARD wrote:
one german one i heard today was:
"you shouldn't buy the cat in the sack"
i still have no clue what it means.

We in Finland say "don't buy a pig in the sack" (älä osta sikaa säkissä), and it means, that you shouldn't buy anything without checking it first. Maybe that german idiom means the same thing?
-TomJ-
One idiom that has always struck me in English is it is raining cats and dogs. Can you imagine Alsacians, Danish dogs, Persians, German shepherds or St. Bernards falling from the sky?

In Dutch the same natural phenomemon (pooring rain) is described as het regent pijpenstelen, or it is raining pipestems for you linguistically challenged Wink

How about the Dutch expression je weet nooit hoe een koe een haas vangt - you never know how the cow will catch the hare. Meaning, basically, never say never ...
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