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Author Topic: Literal Idioms  (Read 1037 times)

cybersmurf

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Literal Idioms
« on: 04 Sep 2018, 10:28 »

Since we have a fee international folks around, it would be funny to collect a few literal translations of idioms.
Like from a different thread the German idiom "Da scheiden sich die Geister". Literally "That's Ghosts divorcing", meaning "it's where/when opinions differ".


Or "Ich glaub mein Schwein pfeift!" - "I think my pig whistles!", meaning "That's/you're crazy!". And an online dictionary would translate it as "blow me down!".
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Cornelius

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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #1 on: 04 Sep 2018, 11:04 »

Let's give it a try:
Quote
It's butter on the gallows. Even if he could talk like Bridgeman, he'd still shove the hot potato on. He knows where Abraham gets the mustard; there sits a little adder under the grass. He polishes the plate. "Work for the king? I'd rather give the pipe to Marten.

Het is boter aan de galg. Al kon hij praten als Brugman, hij schuift de hete aardappel nog door. Hij weet wat Abraham de mosterd haalt; er zit een addertje onder het gras. Hij poetst de plaat. "Werken voor de koning? Ik geef nog liever de pijp aan Maarten.

It's all in vain. Even if he were an exceptional orator, he'd rather pass on this difficulty topic. He knows what's what; there's a catch. He makes his escape. "Work for free? I'd rather die.
« Last Edit: 04 Sep 2018, 11:27 by Cornelius »
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Case

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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #2 on: 04 Sep 2018, 11:18 »

No better place than Babbel:

https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/the-best-compound-german-words-and-how-to-use-them

https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/the-9-best-german-words-you-dont-know

https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/8-words-you-thought-were-german

They forgot "Schnoddrigkeit" - lit. "snot-nosiness", or "booger-i-ness" - which is ... something like "provocative, loutish, immodest", but with overtones of "joyfully and deliberately plebeian". Attending the annual celebration of the club-that-doesn't-want-you and confirming the shit out of every prejudice they harbour about you. Think Nobby Nobbs hobknobing with the bigwigs.

And my personal favourite: "Rudelgucken", the charmingly irreverent colloquial neologism that almost instantly replaced the singularly ugly pseudo-Anglicism "Public Viewing". "Rudel" means "pack" and "gucken" means "to watch", with subtle overtones of passive consumption. There's also a prurient note to it, as "Rudelbumsen" is an older, and particularly vulgar colloquialism for group-sex.

Despite public viewing's relative youth - it was first offered during the 2006 World Championship hosted in Germany - "Rudelgucken" is already listed in the German dictionary, the Duden.
« Last Edit: 04 Sep 2018, 11:54 by Case »
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Cornelius

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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #3 on: 04 Sep 2018, 11:20 »

Or, in West Flemish, rather than Dutch;

"'t Zwien deur de bjèt'n joagen": chase the pig through the beets: go nuts, have a good time

"Scheurd je puuste"; tear your pimple: get out
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Case

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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #4 on: 04 Sep 2018, 11:35 »

Let's give it a try:
Quote
It's butter on the gallows. Even if he could talk like Bridgeman, he'd still shove the hot potato on. He knows where Abraham gets the mustard; there sits a little adder under the grass. He polishes the plate. "Work for the king? I'd rather give the pipe to Marten.

Het is boter aan de galg. Al kon hij praten als Brugman, hij schuift de hete aardappel nog door. Hij weet wat Abraham de mosterd haalt; er zit een addertje onder het gras. Hij poetst de plaat. "Werken voor de koning? Ik geef nog liever de pijp aan Maarten.

It's all in vain. Even if he were an exceptional orator, he'd rather pass on this difficulty topic. He knows what's what; there's a catch. He makes his escape. "Work for free? I'd rather die.

Uhmmmh - could you translate their meaning, too? Some of those seem related to German idioms:

* "Die heisse Kartoffel weitergeben" (lit. 'To pass on the hot potatoe') means "to deflect blame for an embarrassing failure onto someone else"
* "Er weiss wo der Bartel den Most holt" (lit. 'he knows where Bartholomew gets the cider from') "He knows which side his bread is buttered on"
* "Die Platte putzen" (lit. 'polishing the plate') means "Getting the hell out of Dodge"

but others are utterly foreign.

Edit: Hat-tip to cybersmurf
« Last Edit: 04 Sep 2018, 11:56 by Case »
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #5 on: 04 Sep 2018, 11:45 »

Oh, I have a ton of these from Dutch. We have...

  • "The monkey comes out of the sleeve", which means that a revelation has been made, like a magician's trick being revealed to be done by a monkey in his sleeve.
  • "Make that the cat wise!" which is said in response to something unbelievable.
  • "Bean comes around its salary", what goes around comes around. (It rhymes in Dutch.)
  • "This hits like tongs on a pig", which means it's completely irrelevant or nonsensical.
  • "Stabbing the dragon with something", which means taking the piss out of something.
  • "Drilling someone something through the nose", which means taking away an opportunity for someone to get something, like badmouthing them to an employer before a job interview.
  • "Having an apple to peel with someone", having unfinished business of the unpleasant kind.
  • "Getting a cookie of your own dough", getting a taste of your own medicine.
  • "Kicking in an open door", stating the obvious.
  • "Snapping an owlet", taking a nap.
  • "Feeling it on your clogs", obvious in hindsight.
  • "Feeling someone on the teeth", interrogating someone.
  • "Tying the cat to the bacon", creating a situation of irresistible temptation.
  • "Falling with the door into the house", getting straight to the point.
  • "Standing with your mouth full of teeth", being dumbfounded.
  • "Eating with long teeth", eating something distasteful, reluctantly.
  • "Walking next to your shoes", being full of yourself.
  • "Helping someone to soap", killing someone.
  • "Taking old cows out of the water", bringing up old grudges.
  • "Talking of cows and calves", making small-talk.
  • "Being washed out of the clumps (of dirt)", being big and bulky.
  • "Playing for bacon and beans", playing without stakes.
  • "On that bicycle!" - I get it!
  • "Sand over it", no hard feelings.
  • "The quarter drops", someone finally makes sense of, or understands something.
  • "For the cat's violin", or "For John Dick", or more politely, "For John with the short last name", meaning pointlessly.
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cybersmurf

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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #6 on: 04 Sep 2018, 11:47 »


* "Er weiss wo der Bartel den Most holt" - "He knows which side his bread is buttered on"


literally: he knows where Bartholomew gets the cider from
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #7 on: 04 Sep 2018, 12:16 »

Oh, I have a ton of these from Dutch. We have...


Some of those idioms are common in German, too:

* "Jemandem auf den Zahn fühlen" - "Feeling someone on the teeth" - interrogating someone.
* "Mit der Tür ins Haus fallen" - "Falling with the door into the house" - getting straight to the point.
* "Lange Zähne mache" - "Eating with long teeth" - eating something distasteful, reluctantly.
* "Der Groschen fällt" - "The quarter drops" - someone finally makes sense of, or understands something.

Others have 'relatives' over here

"Having an apple to peel with someone", having unfinished business of the unpleasant kind. -> We'd say "Having a chicken to pluck with someone"

I love "Tying the cat to the bacon" ...  :-D
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #8 on: 04 Sep 2018, 12:28 »

Yeah, there are a ton that we have in common with English too, like finding a needle in a haystack, hanging by a thread, grabbing the bull by the horns, the walls have ears, dotting the i's, hitting the nail on the head, etcetera.
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Quote from: snalin
I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

Cornelius

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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #9 on: 04 Sep 2018, 13:29 »

  • "For the cat's violin".
Don't think I've heard that one before. Giving someone under their fiddle/ box/feet, yes. Probably related, I assume.


Uhmmmh - could you translate their meaning, too? Some of those seem related to German idioms:

* "Die heisse Kartoffel weitergeben" (lit. 'To pass on the hot potatoe') means "to deflect blame for an embarrassing failure onto someone else"
* "Er weiss wo der Bartel den Most holt" (lit. 'he knows where Bartholomew gets the cider from') "He knows which side his bread is buttered on"
* "Die Platte putzen" (lit. 'polishing the plate') means "Getting the hell out of Dodge"

but others are utterly foreign.

Edit: Hat-tip to cybersmurf

Those would be the same.

Its butter on the gallows; it's in vain, useless. Why waste good butter by smearing it on the gallows?
There's a little adder under the grass: superficially it looks good, but danger lurks beneath. Or commonly, there's  catch.
Talk like Bridgeman: talk very well, very convincingly. Brugman must have been a very good orator; most people assume he was a lawyer.
Work for the king: work gratis, without getting anything in return. Also as " it's all for the king"; it's all for nought, it's no good. This one might be  bit more regional.
To give give the pipe to Martin, to break one's pipe; to die. Possibly connected with St Martin? I don't know. That  a smoking pipe, by the way.

There's  lot of expressions in common, actually.

Oh, and rather than an apple or a chicken, it's an egg, over here.
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cybersmurf

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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #10 on: 05 Sep 2018, 00:28 »

In German, there's also the expression Den Löffel abgeben, "to pass the spoon". Equals "To kick the bucket".
Cones from a time when everyone had their own one good spoon they passed on when they passed.
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #11 on: 05 Sep 2018, 01:30 »

There used to be a time, if I remember correctly, that a spoon was a traditional gift at baptism, by the godfather.
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #12 on: 05 Sep 2018, 05:57 »

The Welsh equivalent of "raining cats and dogs" is something along the lines of "bwrw hen gwraig", meaning "raining old ladies".
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Cornelius

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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #13 on: 05 Sep 2018, 06:23 »

Over here that's "Het regent pijpestelen"; "It's raining pipe stems".

One I heard this noon: (emphatically) "Rien à voir!"; Nothing to see"; "Beside the point".
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #14 on: 05 Sep 2018, 07:14 »


In Scotland (dunno about the rest of the UK) we have many odd sayings.

"She's the cat's mother" being one of them...
It's basically something said by a person who has been called "She" instead of by their name...

And NO-ONE seems to know where it comes from or what it actually means!

Scots is GREAT for some sayings: Here's a few off the top of my head.
"A sair fecht" - lit: "A sore fight" - (relating to something someone is having a hard time with)
"For auld lang syne" - lit: "For old long since" - (For Old times' sake)
"Awa' and dinnae blether yir erse" - Lit: "Away and don't talk your bottom" - (Stop talking nonsense)
"Up tae hei doe" - lit: "Up to high doe" - (Totally stressed)
"Haverin' keech" - lit: (and meaning) "Talking shit"

(One can also BE a haverin' keech... "one who talks shit!" (Obviously I've only heard other people be called this...) :clairedoge:
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #15 on: 05 Sep 2018, 08:21 »

"For auld lang syne" - lit: "For old long since" - (For Old times' sake)

This one?

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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #16 on: 05 Sep 2018, 15:54 »

While these aren't idioms as such, there are another couple of Welsh words that have funny literal translations:


• buwch goch gota ("short red cow") = ladybird
• popty-ping ("ping bakery") = colloquial term for "microwave"
• mwg drwg ("naughty smoke") = weed/cannabis
• bochdew ("fat cheeks") = hamster
• mochyn daear ("earth pig") = badger
• eirin gwlanog ("wooly plum") = peach
• tŷ bach ("little house") = toilet
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LTK

Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #17 on: 06 Sep 2018, 02:49 »

Oh! I just remembered another one, and it's genius.

"Leaving the church before the singing", the 'pull-out method'.
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Quote from: snalin
I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #18 on: 06 Sep 2018, 08:27 »

In Scotland (dunno about the rest of the UK) we have many odd sayings.

Some good British phrases I know of include:

1. "Taking the piss", which can mean making fun of someone/something, but is also used when someone's exploiting or asking too much of another person (e.g. "Er, I know you covered two of my shifts last week but can you do tomorrow as well?" "Oh come on, you're taking the piss now")
2. "Faff", meaning time-wasting or unnecessary hassle
3. "Gone pear-shaped", meaning "gone horribly wrong"
4. "Miffed", meaning mildly annoyed

There are also slang terms for people from specific parts of the country - for example, someone from Liverpool is a "Scouser", someone from North Wales is a "Gog" (short for the Welsh word "gogledd", meaning "north"), and someone from Caernarfon is a "Cofi".
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #19 on: 06 Sep 2018, 17:24 »


In Scotland (dunno about the rest of the UK) we have many odd sayings.

"She's the cat's mother" being one of them...
It's basically something said by a person who has been called "She" instead of by their name...

And NO-ONE seems to know where it comes from or what it actually means!

My mother used to say this all the time.

And no, she didn't know what it meant, either.
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #20 on: 06 Sep 2018, 17:54 »

I would guess that it's a saying that's supposed to draw attention to a rude habit, maybe calling someone 'she' instead of by her name? I'm not sure how that's rude, but then I'm not Scottish.

There are a few sayings in Dutch that people say if they don't want to answer seriously. Like, if a kid keeps asking you "Why?" you might respond with "Why are the bananas curved" (which should rhyme) i.e. it implies that you're asking a question to which there is no sensible answer, like answering an obvious question with "Does a bear shit in the woods?"

There's also the thing people say (again, to kids mostly) if they're asked "What?" too many times, which is "If you eat baloney". Probably related to "This is baloney to me", meaning I don't care. Also has a variation I personally love: "This can rust on my arse", meaning IDGAF. A relative neologism; it wasn't used before the 1980s. Another recent saying is "shitting sludge" or "shitting seven colours", our way of saying "shitting bricks".
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Quote from: snalin
I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #21 on: 07 Sep 2018, 00:28 »

Along similar lines, sometimes I or one of my brothers would try to get parental attention:

Me: "Hey. Hey, Dad. Hey."
Dad: "Hay is for horses."

Like the cat thing, it's just a mild way of pointing out your impoliteness.
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #22 on: 07 Sep 2018, 01:19 »

I would guess that it's a saying that's supposed to draw attention to a rude habit, maybe calling someone 'she' instead of by her name? I'm not sure how that's rude, but then I'm not Scottish.

Absolutely that's what it is.
But it's more the origin of it that has totally been lost.
Like, of all the things to say to indicate rudeness... "She's the cat's mother...?" (It is only used for females)

Another recent saying is "shitting sludge" or "shitting seven colours", our way of saying "shitting bricks".

Now there's an interesting parallel...
The seven-colours thing is clearly rainbow related, but relating it to... fecal matter... is also used over here.
As in... "I'll knock/kick seven colours o' shit fae ye!" (An not altogether serious threat... used in situations where your pal might be annoying you.. "Gie it a rest, or I'll knock seven colours o' shit oot o' ye!"

(Usually followed from said friend with "Aye, right! Treh it!" ("Try it!"))  :)

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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #23 on: 07 Sep 2018, 01:41 »

And when a kid keeps going "And if... but if.... if...."the answer often is "If your aunt had wheels, she'd be a little cart." That's usually a good point to stop.
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #24 on: 07 Sep 2018, 03:08 »

I guess that makes about as much sense as, "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride."
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #25 on: 07 Sep 2018, 13:15 »

My usual one in that vein is "if fish had wings, we'd call them birds".

But I've never understood why using "she" is considered rude. It's a perfectly good pronoun "<name> said to me that <name> wanted to get a gift for <name>'s sister but <name> couldn't decide whether <name> should get the toilet brush or if <name> should get the plunger." just sounds bizarre, and it never is used to berate someone for using "he".
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #26 on: 10 Sep 2018, 01:39 »

I guess that makes about as much sense as, "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride."

WHich is only slightly bettered by ...

"Aye, an' if yer auntie had ba's she'd be yer uncle!"

 :-o
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #27 on: 10 Sep 2018, 03:47 »

Crikey.
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #28 on: 11 Sep 2018, 02:27 »

In German there's "Wenn das Wörtchen 'wenn' nicht wäre [...]" meaning "If 'if' didn't exist [...] would be true". And you could fill in anything you want, like [cowdung would be candy].
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #29 on: 11 Sep 2018, 06:12 »

I mentioned this thread to my sister and she told me about "What time is it? - Quarter past the edge of the pisspot." I've never even heard of that one!

But I've never understood why using "she" is considered rude. It's a perfectly good pronoun "<name> said to me that <name> wanted to get a gift for <name>'s sister but <name> couldn't decide whether <name> should get the toilet brush or if <name> should get the plunger." just sounds bizarre, and it never is used to berate someone for using "he".

I think I've figured it out. If you keep using 'she' to refer to someone who's part of the conversation, she might want to point out it's rude to not address someone personally, hence the idiom.
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Quote from: snalin
I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #30 on: 11 Sep 2018, 12:41 »

Ah, that reminds me! It's not so common now, I suppose because of the rise of phones, etc. with clocks, but when asking someone with no watch for the time, they may well look at their bare wrist and reply "it's two hairs past a freckle".
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #31 on: 11 Sep 2018, 13:02 »

Ah, that reminds me! It's not so common now, I suppose because of the rise of phones, etc. with clocks, but when asking someone with no watch for the time, they may well look at their bare wrist and reply "it's two hairs past a freckle".

A friend of mine uses the phrase "Viertel vor Hand" - quarter to hand.


On a different note - there's the expression "Haus- und Hof-[...]" for something abundant, readily available. Literally translates as "House- and {royal} Court-[something]"
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #32 on: 11 Sep 2018, 13:21 »

A bit like huis-, tuin-,en keuken X. House, garden and kitchen.

In our dialect, 't hof is a farm; den hof, the garden. Different gender, different meaning.
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Re: Literal Idioms
« Reply #33 on: 25 Sep 2018, 03:18 »

As I used the expression 'cherry bomb' today, it reminded me of the German word "Knallfrosch", meaning firecracker. Literal translation is "bang frog".
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