Sunday, August 30, 2009

MORE on Idioms and such

You know I am completely fascinated by idioms. In my ongoing quest to understand my 2leggeds I keep trying to learn idioms.

Momma is a rich source of foreign idioms, but you have to discount anything she comes up with in English, because ... simply put it is NOT an idiom, but more like a "mommaism". Usual phrases like "sourcasm" and mixed metaphores that come out of her mouth daily, are particular to her and nobody else and you have to accept that. "Sugar lump of dirt" ??????????? Term of endearment? Insult???? Sort of like her hand jive dance. Sorry human brother and sister. I did spill the beans on that one. I know I know... embarrassing family secret. But I don't know how else to illustrate my point.

I digress. In my quest to understand 2leggeds, I started looking for foreign idioms that could be understood in English. Oh my, oh my.... what variety and what it reveals about humans!

"E' il formaggio sulla pasta".... to be cheese on pasta... means... to be perfect in Italian.
I would have thought it meant that something was cheesy... but why let logic ruin a perfect visual?? PS. I do love a good Grana!

"Onions should grow from your navel".... Yes that is a yiddish insult. Onions? Ick.
I get that. But... there would have to be a lot of dirt in that navel. The mommism on this is "You have enough dirt in those ears to plant corn"... I know... like that is even possible! But if it were possible... it would be white corn with beautiful curly white silk!!! I know, that would be awsome!!!

"To make a slice of bread and butter" in French used like this.... No need to make a slice of bread and butter.... meaning: no need to complicate matters. Sooooooo confusing, bread is not complicated, and neither is butter. But they are delicious.

In Hindi, when one refers to a recluse, one says: He sits on eggs. To me that would have meant he is "chicken". No?

He is salt in Arabic. He is a ladle in Italian and he is a cook's spoon in French all mean the same thing.... He mixes in everything. If you are going to refer to me as salt, please call me Kala Namak. It is momma's favorite salt because it tastes like eggs!

Tie one on in English , buying a monkey in German, both refer to being drunk. I just have no comment on that, but are many monkeys sold in Germany? Is Octoberfest monkey sale time?

Breaking the rice bowl means becoming unemployed, looking like a clump of cooked rice is looking stupid and eating bad smelling rice is going to jail. These are all Japanese expressions, but just when you thought that all idioms in Japan are rice based, they throw in one like: "brewing the dirt from someone's fingernails and drinking it" Ick... really ICK... it is supposed to mean learning a bitter lesson from someone else's errors. Surely in a language with some many alphabet characters you could come up with something less... offensive???

This is "the tip of the iceberg" .... [ha I am using idioms!!!!] and now you know what I have been up to, what is your favorite idom and why?

vote already, It is a new week....
yes, I am still trying to win!!!!


Unknown said...

Hey Silvie,
The guys here at White Dog Cottage are sending you a few of their favorite idioms:

All Bark and No Bite -- Frannie
Barking up the Wrong Tree - Will
Beat a Dead Horse (eeyeew)- Elmo
Bite Off More Than You Can Chew - Brittany (You're kidding, right, Brit????)
Cry Wolf - Gidget
From your friend,
Cameron (THE DUDE)

silvieon4 said...

Kewl!!!! So many more idioms! I like them. Oh Brit, that biting off more than you can chew... it happens. I scared them big time when I did that. It is called choking. So pay attention!!!! Thank you guys, and for the record... there are NO wrong trees...just stupid squirrels who go on different trees.

Vickie said...

Okay, silvieon4, my mom always says, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

I don't get it. There are 4 bichons in our house - no gift horses to look at here. Could you please enlighten me?

From Vivacious Vickie (adopted from Tidewater Bichon Frise Rescue)

silvieon4 said...


Don't be ungrateful when you receive a gift.


This comes into the category of phrases called proverbs, that is, 'short and expressive sayings, in common use, which are recognized as conveying some accepted truth or useful advice'.

don't look a gift horse in the mouth. As horses age their teeth begin to project further forward each year and so their age can be estimated by checking how prominent the teeth are. This incidentally is also the source of another teeth/age related phrase - long in the tooth.

The advice given in the 'don't look...' proverb is: when given a present, be grateful for your good fortune and don't look for more by examining it to assess its value.

As with most proverbs the origin is ancient and unknown. We have some clues with this one however. The phrase was originally "don't look a given horse in the mouth" and first appears in print in 1546 in John Heywood's A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, where he gives it as all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, where he gives it as:

"No man ought to looke a geuen hors in the mouth."

Heywood is an interesting character in the development of English. He was employed at the courts of Henry VIII and Mary I as a singer, musician, and playwright. His Proverbs is a comprehensive collection of those known at the time and includes many that are still with us:

- Many hands make light work.
- Rome wasn't built in a day.
- A good beginning makes a good ending.
Hmmmm interesting , from

silvieon4 said...

PS Vickie's mom.... don't cut those treats and maybe you would not have to use that phrase for those who got shorted... wink wink....