Idioms, well-known phrases of figurative language like “It’s raining cats and dogs,” are to languages as spices are to cooking. Often peculiar, charming and funny, they add a distinctive local flavor to everyday speech. They also don’t translate very well.
A new infographic from Hotelclub.com illustrates just how odd some of these phrases seem to foreigners by translating ten of them literally and then drawing the results. In the HotelClub blog, Matt Lindley writes,
“I’ve always been fascinated by foreign idioms; they give us a unique insight into the culture that uses them. Did you know that in German you can say “to live like a maggot in bacon” instead of “to live the life of luxury”? Idioms can tell us a lot about what matters to a nation. They’re a window to the soul.”
Of course, it’s not just foreign idioms that seem absurd when you stop to think about them. As Lindley told the Guardian,
“I’m sure English idioms sound really strange to other people. Often ones that resonate with different cultures are the ones that are quite far away from the ones they have.”
See the full infographic below for more. Meanwhile, here are seven more idioms from around the world that we’d like to see illustrated. Hey guys, how about a sequel?
- French: “To eat dandelions by the root.” Meaning: The state of being deceased.
- Spanish: “When frogs grow hair.” Meaning: When pigs fly…or never.
- Armenian: “Stop ironing my head!” Meaning: Stop annoying me!
- Dutch: “I sweat carrots.” Meaning: I’m sweating like a pig
- Hindi: “To excrete embers.” Meaning: “to get very angry”
- Norwegian: “To pace around hot porridge like a cat.” Meaning: “To beat around the bush,” or to discuss a subject in an indirect manner.
- Russian: “To hang noodles on one’s ears.” Meaning: “To tell lies or talk nonsense.”