The 5 strangest idiomatic expressions for foreigners
The whole point of being a translator is not to do word for word. To find an equivalent formula and to concentrate on the meaning.
Idiomatic expressions are a perfect example of this. They bring a poetic dimension to everyday life and are very much influenced by the habits and customs of the people who speak them. So for a foreign person some expressions may seem really strange, funny or completely implausible if translated word for word.
In this article, we have grouped together 5 expressions in English, Spanish and French that when you don't know the meaning are incomprehensible.
● Pink Slip = notice of termination. For a foreigner it evokes the image of pink underwear. A funnier expression on the form than on the content...
●I have a frog in my throat = have a sore throat. The French have exactly the same expression with a cat. Surprisingly, we might have thought it was the Frenchman's turn to have frogs in his throat.
● It rains cats and dogs = it rains a lot. It's hard to understand the place of cats and dogs to talk about rain.
● Life is not all beer and skittles = life is not always nice and quiet. We understand better where happiness lies in the English.
● Put your money where your mouth is = it is used when someone regularly says they are going to do something and doesn't do it.
● Pédaler dans la semoule = pedal through the semolina = we use it when we lose our train of thought.
● Pisser dans un violon = to piss in a violin = wasting time unnecessarily. Initially the verb to blow instead of pee was used, but the expression has become distorted over time. An expression as disgusting as it is poetic.
● Quand les poules auront des dents = When the chickens have teeth = qualifies a situation that will never happen.
● Il ne faut pas pousser mémé dans les orties = we mustn't push grandma into the nettles = when someone goes too far or overreacts. At first glance, this expression sounds like a reprimand for a bad childhood joke, poor Grandma!
● Couper les cheveux en quatre = Cut the hair in four ways = when someone is too fussy. It's hard to imagine the situation.
● Ser la leche = be the milk = be amazing. Spanish must really love milk!
● Arrimar el ascua a su sardina = approach the burning coal to its sardine = provide arguments to the interlocutor that strengthen his or her position. A very colourful expression, which even with translation has difficulty finding its meaning in the ears of a foreigner.
● Matar el gusanillo = Kill the worm = to have a snack. Immediately less appetizing, 100% effective if you're at full diet!
● Quedar frito = Stay fried = fall asleep.
● Me pica la bagre = the catfish itches me = I'm very hungry. Decidedly, catfish is not the first thing that comes to mind if we are hungry.
Although a little strange, they are all beautiful expressions that bring richness and particularity to each language. They reflect the cultural diversity of our world, they're real treasures that need protecting.
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