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Monday, April 24, 2017

Language Fun!

Interesting expressions – idioms – make the language world spin. Some poetic turns of phrase are similar-ish from country to country. That’s great but it’s the other ones which absolutely delight me.

In France, fer instance:
When conversation has hopelessly wandered and you want to bring things back ‘round again, you can say Revenons à nos moutons.

The exact translation is (according to Mirriam Webster) let us return to our sheep. The meaning?  Let's get back on topic. K. Works for me. Also too, I really like sheepies!

Can’t easily decide between two things? You’re on the fenc? Avoir le cul entre deux chaises. You have your ass between two chairs. Ouchie!
Translated exactly, Ça me fait une belle jambe, means it gives me a beautiful leg. Sounds a little sexy, don’t it? Is leg a euphemism for the arbor vitae of lurv? ‘the Hell’s this rilly supposed to mean?
The first form of this expression was "it will not make his leg well done". We also revisited the variant "it will not make his leg more beautiful". Then, around 1830, the expression became "make the leg well", and finally "make a beautiful leg.” Here, the "beautiful leg" represents the masculine pretension. One can draw a parallel with the "calves of cock", where the cock symbolizes pride. To say that something will make us "a beautiful leg" means that it will not help in anything. (source)
Ça me fait une belle jambe means, basically, a fat lot of good that'll do me //snort//

And, you don’t push up daisies in Lyon when you’re six feet under. Nope, you manger les pissenlits par la racineeat the dandelions by the root. Now I have some strange painting ideas. Cool!

In Italy:
My absolute favoritest Italian expression is in bocca al lupo – (we go) into the wolf’s mouth. This should always be followed by crepi il lupomay the wolf die. My friends Cindy and Giovanni say this to me whenever I go in for big surgery. It means good luck (with oomph).

Another, less macho, scatologically funny good luck wish is, in culo alla balena – (we go) into the whale’s ass. The rejoinder is speriamo che non caghi let's hope it doesn't shit!

Hai voluto la bicicletta? E adesso pedala!Did you want the bicycle? And now pedal!
You made your bed, now ya gotta lie in it or I told ya so.

Non avere peli sulla lingua – Without hair on his tongue.
This is used when you want a person to be brutally honest. Gimme the straight dope, man!

Avere le braccine corte means have short arms. The person described as such is a cheap motherfucker. The English expression have deep pockets and short arms is similar though this specifies that the skinflint's got plenty of bread but is a stone Scrooge McDuck.

In Germany:
Da liegt der Hund begrabenThat’s where the dog’s buried.
No, the expression isn’t concerned with where Fido was planted. //shudder// Nope, it means that’s the heart of the matter. Yes – this makes clear, beautiful sense to me.

Das ist mir Wurst –That’s sausage to me or it does not matter. Meaning – It doesn't matter. I love sausage (though as a Veggie American I no longer eat it). A better illustration of not mattering, for me anyway, would be that's parsley to me. After all, what is parsley besides unneeded garnish?
An often found answer to the etymology of this expression is, that a sausage ("Wurst") has two endings, so it doesn't matter from which side you start to cut or eat. (source)
Oh. I get it now.

 Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof – I only understand “train station.”
This means I don’t understand what’s going on here or “it’s all Greek to me.”

A possible derivation:
The soldiers (WWI) apparently were tired of fighting and wanted to return home. Since train was the primary means of transportation, many soldiers associated the train station (Bahnhof) with returning home. Because the soldiers thought a lot about returning home it could happen that they could or would not follow the conversation because they "only understood train station" (which is the literal translation for "nur Bahnhof verstehen”). (source)
Lastly Sie spielt die beleidigte LeberwurstShe plays the offended liver sausage. Beautiful but huh???? All I could find on this is that it means she’s in a huff. Yes but I really think there's got to be a good origin story in here somewhere.

I could get lost in Lingo Land for days on end...months!

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