Idiomatic Phrases

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Idiomatic Phrases

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-03-06, 19:43

I hope this isn't too broad a topic (and that it hasn't been done elsewhere on another thread), but I wanted to start a thread where we could give examples of idiomatic phrases that don't translate literally into other languages well (or at least, don't translate well into English).

(ja) 機嫌斜めになる

One's mood goes slanted

It means to get into a foul mood, become sullen, moody.
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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby Linguaphile » 2021-03-07, 0:10

Yes, very broad, but cool thread! I want to contribute but I wasn't sure where to start (so many to choose from! :mrgreen: ) so I took some of the less-translatable ones from another thread (where I hadn't included the literal translations for the most part anyway, so it's good to add them here).
Anyway, by selecting them from that other thread, they are ones I've come across in use at some point.
Some may be calques from other languages, as this often happens, and I don't always know whether or not this is the case.

(et)
suure kella külge panna
to attach onto the side of a big bell
meaning "to disclose; bring to light"

see kulub marjaks ära
this is needed as a berry / this will be used up like a berry
meaning "this may come in handy"

mõni mõis ja ahjutäis vorste
some manor and an oven-full of sausage
meaning "it's no big deal; it's not all that"

puust ja punaseks tegema
to make of wood and color it red
meaning "to make crystal-clear; to spell out"

alles lapsekingadesse jääma
to still remain in child shoes
meaning "to be in its infancy; to be in its early stages"

nagu lepase reega
like with an alderwood sled
meaning "easily, without trouble"

nagu kadakapõõsas
like a juniper bush
meaning "all fired up, hot tempered" (longer version is nagu kadakapõõsas põlema, to burn like a juniper bush

nokk kinni ja saba lahti
beak stuck and tail free
meaning "to get out of one difficult situation only to end up in another one" (this comes from a folktale about a bird on a freshly-tarred roof)

nagu tikutulega taga otsima
to search for as though with a match's flame
meaning "to look for something that is rare or difficult to find"

lõhkise küna ees seisma
to stand in front of a cracked trough
meaning "to be faced with a failed plan; to have lost everything"

haljale oksale jõudma
to reach a green branch
meaning "to become wealthy, to make something of oneself"

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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby Car » 2021-03-07, 10:09

Some of your examples also exist in German.

Linguaphile wrote:(et)
suure kella külge panna
to attach onto the side of a big bell
meaning "to disclose; bring to light"

"an die große Glocke hängen" (to attach to the big bell)

alles lapsekingadesse jääma
to still remain in child shoes
meaning "to be in its infancy; to be in its early stages"


"noch in den Kinderschuhen stecken" (to still be stuck in child shoes)

haljale oksale jõudma
to reach a green branch
meaning "to become wealthy, to make something of oneself"


"auf den grünen Zweig kommen" (to come onto the green branch)

Could it be that Estonian got some of them from German?
Please correct my mistakes!

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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby Naava » 2021-03-07, 13:26

Car wrote:Some of your examples also exist in German.
alles lapsekingadesse jääma
to still remain in child shoes
meaning "to be in its infancy; to be in its early stages"


"noch in den Kinderschuhen stecken" (to still be stuck in child shoes)

Finnish has this one too: olla lapsenkengissä (to be in child shoes; sometimes also olla lapsenkengissään, to be in one's child shoes)

Linguaphile wrote:nokk kinni ja saba lahti
beak stuck and tail free
meaning "to get out of one difficult situation only to end up in another one"

This one is ojasta allikkoon (from a ditch into a small pond) in Finnish.

Here's some more Finnish idioms and proverbs! :) You can play the game with Dave and try to guess the meaning before it's revealed. Give yourself a point for each correct guess and see if you can win him. 8-)

https://youtu.be/J_xFCoCbLw4
https://youtu.be/aTAfx2rF3wM
https://youtu.be/XgoGm1f85KI
https://youtu.be/gbqBaBGCSfE
https://youtu.be/Q_-VVLGKlqg

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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby Linguaphile » 2021-03-07, 16:04

Linguaphile wrote:Some may be calques from other languages, as this often happens, and I don't always know whether or not this is the case.

Car wrote:Some of your examples also exist in German.
Could it be that Estonian got some of them from German?

Definitely! I expected that would be the case for some, I just wasn't sure which ones. Thanks!

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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby Linguaphile » 2021-03-07, 17:46

Naava wrote:Here's some more Finnish idioms and proverbs!

Good videos!
The Estonian version of the Finnish tehdä kärpäsestä härkänen (to make a bull out of a fly) is sääsest härja tegema (to make a bull out of a mosquito).
For Finnish kuin kaksi marjaa (like two berries) in Estonian there is kui kaks marja but much more common is nagu kaks tilka vett (like two drops of water).
For Finnish minnä metsään (go to the forest) Estonian has metsa minema with the exact same meaning when the subject is a thing or an event. But, be cautious with it when the subject is a person because if you tell someone to go to the forest rather than saying that something has gone to to forest, it is an impolite way of saying "get lost" (or roughly "go to hell").
The Estonian version of itku pitkästä iloista ("cry from long fun") is pill tuleb pika ilu peale (tears follow long periods of joy). It doesn't necessarily have to be after a long time, the meaning is just that sadness follows great happiness. (The Finnish book's translation made me giggle. Maybe I should translate the Estonian one as "crying comes after long fun").

This reminds me of this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN8jFt2vb9s
It is a song made up entirely of proverbs and sayings. It is entirely in Estonian, but I posted the translations of all of the sayings here just last week!

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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby Car » 2021-03-08, 21:28

Linguaphile wrote:The Estonian version of the Finnish tehdä kärpäsestä härkänen (to make a bull out of a fly) is sääsest härja tegema (to make a bull out of a mosquito).


That one is aus einer Mücke einen Elefanten machen (to make an elephant out of a mosquito) in German.
Please correct my mistakes!

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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-03-12, 18:47

(pt-br) confiar no próprio taco
To believe in one's own club/bat/stick

A taco is a general term for any kind of stick used for sports, like a hockey stick, hurley, baseball bat etc.
The phrase means to be confident in oneself, one's abilities, merits etc.
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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby linguoboy » 2021-03-15, 19:46

My father grew up on a farm and for a while we lived in a small farm town in the Midwest. I was exposed to a lot of expressions relating to country life which I didn't realise weren't common currency in English until I tried using them later in life.

(en-us) to have a clod in the churn
to have something gumming up the works [especially something not immediately visible]

This was a favourite of one of my math teachers, who I believe was from North Carolina. He also used to say "Sam Hill" (a euphemism for "damned hell"), e.g. "What in the Sam Hill d'you think you're doin'?"

(en-us) as independent as a hog on ice
helpless

According to my dad, folks who have never seen a hog on the ice sometimes think this means "very independent". In fact, it means "not independent at all", since a hog's hooves provide little or no traction on the ice. Especially used of someone who stubbornly resists accepting help.

(en-us) be on you like white on rice/ugly on an ape
keep close to someone

For my dad, this was a threat, i.e. "There's no place you can hide from me." Apparently the first is also used positively, as in the song "Baby Get It On", where Ike Turner[*] sings "Now you're the finest girl I ever saw in my life / I want to stick to you like white on rice".

(en-us) beaten with the ugly stick
very ugly

Usually in the expression "He looks like he was beaten with the ugly stick". There are other variations, the most colourful I know being "He looks like he fell out the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down."

(en-us) If a frog had wings he wouldn't bust his ass a-hoppin'.

This is perhaps the best known of a family of expressions used to dismiss an improbable hypothetical due to its use in the film Raising Arizona. A similar version appears in Wayne's World: "If a frog had wings it wouldn't bump its ass when it hopped." The two versions my dad used more often were:

"If ifs were skiffs we could all go sailing."
"If buts and ands were pots and pans there'd be no work for tinkers' hands."

Other variations in the same vein include:

"If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas."
"If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride."


[*] Who, as it turns out, was an abusive asshole, so maybe ultimately not a positive usage after all.
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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-03-15, 20:02

linguoboy wrote:This was a favourite of one of my math teachers, who I believe was from North Carolina. He also used to say "Sam Hill" (a euphemism for "damned hell"), e.g. "What in the Sam Hill d'you think you're doin'?"


You Americans sure do love your euphemisms Gosh darn it!

linguoboy wrote:(en-us) as independent as a hog on ice
helpless

(en-us) be on you like white on rice/[
(en-us) beaten with the ugly stick
"He looks like he fell out the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down."


I've heard of all these before, but probably only from TV, I don't think anyone here uses them.

linguoboy wrote:"If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas."


Now I know where this comes from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35YaJY9bTr8
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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby linguoboy » 2021-03-15, 20:08

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:"If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas."


Now I know where this comes from

It seems like an earlier version, ""If ifs and "buts" were candy and nuts, wouldn't it be a Merry Christmas?", originated with the USAmerican football commentator Don Meredith in the early 70s. This is also the version preferred by former US House Majority Leader John Boehner.
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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby vijayjohn » 2021-03-15, 20:11

Doesn't it basically go back to this?

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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby linguoboy » 2021-03-15, 20:17

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:This was a favourite of one of my math teachers, who I believe was from North Carolina. He also used to say "Sam Hill" (a euphemism for "damned hell"), e.g. "What in the Sam Hill d'you think you're doin'?"

You Americans sure do love your euphemisms Gosh darn it!

Minced oaths are one of my favourite things. (He used to get very defensive, btw, if you accused him of saying "Sam Hell" because he never swore in front of children!)

Traditional Irish has a fair number, too, btw. Dar fia, dar lia, dar fiagaí, and dar fiach are all euphemisms for dar Dia. Similarly, dialects where diabhal is pronounced dial have fial; other variants include riabhal, riach, and diabhach.
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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby vijayjohn » 2021-03-15, 20:21

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:This was a favourite of one of my math teachers, who I believe was from North Carolina. He also used to say "Sam Hill" (a euphemism for "damned hell"), e.g. "What in the Sam Hill d'you think you're doin'?"


You Americans sure do love your euphemisms Gosh darn it!

*puts on American schoolteacher voice* RÍ!! :o We do NOT use that kind of language in this school!!!

The correct euphemism is gosh dang it! :hmpf:

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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby Linguaphile » 2021-03-28, 21:00

(es-cl) meterse en un zapato chino
to put oneself in a Chinese shoe
meaning "to create problems for oneself that are difficult to get out of", especially when those problems could have been avoided

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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby vijayjohn » 2021-04-05, 21:50

Malayalam (ml) കാക്കയ്ക്ക് തൻകുഞ്ഞും പൊൻകുഞ്ഞും [ˈkaːkɛkʲɯ ˈt̪ənguɲum ˈpɔnguɲum] - literally 'for crow, own child and golden child', i.e. for a crow, its own child is a golden (precious) child.

The most precious children in a parent's eyes are their own.
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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-04-17, 20:08

(pt-br) cheio de nove horas
lit. "full of nine o'clock"

My wife prefers to use the version "cheio de nove e meia" ("full of half past nine"). The phrase is used to refer to someone being picky, difficult to please.
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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby Linguaphile » 2021-05-08, 15:44

(et) auku pähe rääkima
to talk a hollow into the head
meaning: to persuade, convince

(et) nagu Vändrast saelaudu (tulema)
(to come) like boards from Vändra
meaning: abundantly

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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-05-08, 16:34

Linguaphile wrote:(et) auku pähe rääkima
to talk a hollow into the head
meaning: to persuade, convince


That seems like it should mean, specifically, convincing someone of some silly idea! :)

It reminded me of one of the terms for "convince" in Irish which is also very odd when translated literally;
(ga) rud a chur ina luí ar dhuine
to put something in its *lying on someone

*That's lying as in lying down, not not telling the truth (which would make more logical sense in many ways...)
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Re: Idiomatic Phrases

Postby Linguaphile » 2021-05-08, 17:35

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
Linguaphile wrote:(et) auku pähe rääkima
to talk a hollow into the head
meaning: to persuade, convince


That seems like it should mean, specifically, convincing someone of some silly idea! :)

As I understand it it's more like talking someone into something they don't originally want to do or agree with. "To talk someone into" or "to coax into" may be better translations.

Here's the context I found it in:
Muu hulgas lasin endale augu pähe rääkida koolilehe tegemiseks.= Among other things, I let myself be talked into doing (let a hollow be talked into my head to do) the school newspaper.

These are given in a dictionary as examples (translations mine though):
Rääkisime talle augu pähe ja ta tuligi meie meeskonda üle. = We persuaded him (talked a hollow into his head) and he came over to our team.
Naised oskavad meelitada ja auku pähe rääkida. = Women know how to entice and win you over (talk hollows into the head).
Ta laseb lihtsasti augu pähe rääkida. = He lets himself be easily persuaded (lets a hole be talked into his head easily).


Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:It reminded my of one of the terms for "convince" in Irish which is also very odd when translated literally;
(ga) rud a chur ina luí ar dhuine
to put something in its *lying on someone

*That's lying as in lying down, not not telling the truth (which would make more logical sense in many ways...)
Interesting! Maybe like it's just lying there now, not going anywhere - if you truly convince someone, the thing that you've convinced them of is there to stay. :?:


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