Language Idioms

k-dom

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I was thinking it would be nice to have a thread for sharing idioms and see the equivalent in the different languages.
So here is a proposal format :

Meaning
Language:Original idioms (word to word English translation)

Example :
To say it rains a lot
English : It's raining cats and dogs
French : Il pleut des cordes (It's raining ropes)

Of course it's possible that the idiom has no equivalent in other languages. We have a very funny one in French:

Et la marmotte, elle met le chocolat dans le papier alu (and the mamot, she puts the chocolate in the aluminium foil)
You said that to someone who tells you something crazy seriously. This comes from a Milka chocolate ads from the 80's, it was so successful that the catch phrase became an idiom. I remember when reading the translation of Dreamland, the translator was quite puzzled when the hero said that.

---------- Post added March 07, 2012 at 07:59 AM ---------- Previous post was February 22, 2012 at 05:11 PM ----------

Since we have an oscar winner, let's see some French idioms with casser

French:Casser quelqu'un (break someone) means to diss someone. It's quite slang and to be use within friends

French:Ne pas casser 3 pattes à un canard (to not break 3 legs to a duck) means to make something not really exceptional

---------- Post added March 09, 2012 at 11:27 AM ---------- Previous post was March 07, 2012 at 07:59 AM ----------

In Direct Matin, the other day, there was one which I wonder if it exist in other languages:

French: Prendre son pied (to take his foot) means to take pleasure in what you are currently doing... And yes it is mostly used as a reference to orgasm :-). In every day life it can be modified in, <a situation>, c'est le pied (that's the foot).

For info, the foot in question refers to the imperial system measurement and apparently pirate used to took their foot when they share their loots.
 
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goldb

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I've got a common British one, which many probably have heard of. I'll try and think/find some rarer ones or local sayings too.

Right up your street

Meaning: If something is right up your street, it would be perfect for you or ideal for your skills and interests.

For example:

  • "I've found a job that should be right up Humphrey's street. It's writing for a cricket magazine, so he could use his writing skills and his knowledge of cricket."
  • "I thought a tour of German castles would be right up your street, Sarah."
Note: The idioms "right down your alley" and "right up your alley" have the same meaning, but they're used more in American English.
 

k-dom

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Thanks goldb, that is an interesting one.
In French we have the idiom "aller comme un gant" (to fit like a glove) which could have a similar meaning. Though it's mainly used for clothes but it can sometime be used for something more abstract.
 
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goldb

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Thanks goldb, that is an interesting one.
In French we have the idiom "aller comme un gant" (to fit like a glove) which could have a similar meaning. Though it's mainly used for clothes but it can sometime be used for something more abstract.
Ahh aller comme un gant; I understand how that's similar, yes :amuse

I've got another one:

Fair Crack of the Whip

If everybody has a fair crack of the whip, they all have equal opportunities to do something.
 

k-dom

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I guess the equivalent for this one would be (se battre) à armes égales ((to fight) with equivalent weapons).
 

goldb

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Stiff Upper Lip

If you keep your emotions to yourself and don't let others know how you feel when something bad happens, you keep a stiff upper lip.
 

Adorien

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I like that one. I learned it from Dexter's Lab. xD Also, AC/DC's 'Stiff Upper Lip" is a very nice song.

I think the equivalent for that here is "горе главата", which literally means "up the head". It means to hold your head up high and not be in a bad mood. That's something you say to others. "Keep your head up!"
 

k-dom

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Thanks Adorien for the precision, I thought at first it was used for people timid and secretive when in the end it's kinda the opposite :-)
In French you can also "Keep your head up" (garder la tête haute), it means that you keep a dignified and proud behaviour even in bad situation.
Something similar is garder la tête froide (Keep a cool head) with the same meaning as in English.
This expression is kinda funny, because the expression "keep cool" has travelled to France, but only half of it was translated and it became "reste cool". We lost the direct reference to temperature (which I only notice now that I look for it) whereas we had it already in a similar expression. That's the magic of languages :-)

And I'm glad we internationalize little by little
 
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k-dom

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Since it was in the actuality yesterday.
Love as first sight is said 'coup de foudre' (lightning stroke) in French, but I don't think we are the only one to say it that it that way
 

k-dom

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It's a long time since i didn't post one so here are 2 which both mean 'not doing thing halfway'
Ne pas y a aller avec le dos de la cuillère (to not do it with the back of the spoon)
Ne pas y aller de main morte (to not do it with a dead hand)

I think the first one comes from the spoon you use in cocktail. When you use the back of the spoon, you do thing carefully. I'm not sure about the second one.
 

goldb

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Slight bump up~

A Slap on the wrist: To get a very mild punishment or get off lightly. "That sentence was a slap on the wrist, it should've been a lot greater"

Anything similar in your languages?
 

k-dom

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I don't think we have a similar one in French. You can have a tap on the fingers (se faire taper sur les doigts) but it just mean to get a punition without severity connotation
 

carlosgmsousa

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I've got a common British one, which many probably have heard of. I'll try and think/find some rarer ones or local sayings too.

Right up your street

Meaning: If something is right up your street, it would be perfect for you or ideal for your skills and interests.

For example:

  • "I've found a job that should be right up Humphrey's street. It's writing for a cricket magazine, so he could use his writing skills and his knowledge of cricket."
  • "I thought a tour of German castles would be right up your street, Sarah."
Note: The idioms "right down your alley" and "right up your alley" have the same meaning, but they're used more in American English.
In Portugal the expression we use is "à tua medida" which translated literally would be something like tailored to your measure/size.

---------- Post added at 10:42 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:34 PM ----------

I've just remebered an expression we use in Portugal "nem que chovessem canivetes", which translated would be something like "even if it were raining pocket knives". This is an expression used to denote that someone is determined to do something and nothing would be able to discourage him/her. Is there any idiom along those lines in English?
 

k-dom

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Win French we have 'contre vent et marée' (against tides and winds) which has a siminlar meaning
 

goldb

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I've just remebered an expression we use in Portugal "nem que chovessem canivetes", which translated would be something like "even if it were raining pocket knives". This is an expression used to denote that someone is determined to do something and nothing would be able to discourage him/her. Is there any idiom along those lines in English?
Off the top of my head, the closest thing I can think of is "against all odds". I'll try to think/look it up.
 

Kaiten

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A photo finish: Something that is to close to call. In horse racing photographic evidence is used to declare a winner when their is a close finish.
 

k-dom

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In French it's the opposite which has become idiomatic with the popular expression "Y'a pas photo", meaning a clear victory that doesn't need a picture to be verified. It can nowadays be used for anything that is beyond doubt:
- One Piece is the most popular manga
- Y'a pas photo !
 

carlosgmsousa

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Win French we have 'contre vent et marée' (against tides and winds) which has a siminlar meaning
Seeing as we portuguese have a long tradition of seafaring discoveries it's no wonder we have the exact same idiom "contra ventos e marés" which is written almost the same as in french.

But the expression I mentioned before is more of a form that someone has to convene absolute determination on his part to accomplish or do something. It's not used in the sense of someone describing that some other person has determination but the person itself transmitting that meaning. Hope I didn't sound too confusing...
 

nyamonyamo

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I've got a few. My culture is based heavily on idioms. In the old days we never speak in a direct manner cause that would be considered rude. It is always in the forms of poems, idioms and proverbs to make it sound as indirect but meaning hits home. We are just that polite. Though now the iphone generation pretty much only know about pop culture its still used in formal ceremony like wedding speech, engagement ceremony etc. I'll share a few:

Bulan dipagari bintang (moon surrounded by stars) - a beautiful girl
kacang lupakan kulit (nuts forgotten its shell) - ungrateful person
api dalam sekam (fire in a Paddy husk) - seeking vengeance
harimau sembunyi kuku (tigers hiding its claws) - a person hiding his advantage/superiority
pungguk rindukan bulan (owl yearning for the moon) - yearning for the unreachable
cacing kepanasan (worm in heat) - restless person
pahat dan penukul (chisel and hammer) - only work when told to
ajar itik berenang (teach duck to swim) - trying to teach someone better than us

All i could think right now XD
 
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