English phrases/idioms that reference other languages

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jonathan
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English phrases/idioms that reference other languages

Postby jonathan » 2005-10-21, 17:47

There are two that I can think of that have always made me wonder their origin (these may be American English phrases, I'm not sure):

Sounds like Greek to me.
Sometimes said when someone doesn't understand something. If someone spurts out Calculus equations, one who doesn't understand might say such a phrase.

Excuse my French.
Typically said when a speaker curses or says something inappropriate. This is a lighthearted way of apologizing. This one has always boggled me— why French?

Does anyone know the origins of these phrases? Do you ever say them yourself? They seem a bit old-fashioned, but on occasion I've caught myself using them.

Are there any other phrases that do this? In English or any other language?
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Postby Gormur » 2005-10-21, 23:41

Another one is: It's all double-Dutch to me

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_dutch

I don't use any of them. Actually, I hardly use any idioms in English, so maybe I'm not the best person to ask.

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Re: English phrases/idioms that reference other languages

Postby Stan » 2005-10-22, 0:00

jonathan wrote:There are two that I can think of that have always made me wonder their origin (these may be American English phrases, I'm not sure):

Sounds like Greek to me.
Sometimes said when someone doesn't understand something. If someone spurts out Calculus equations, one who doesn't understand might say such a phrase.

Excuse my French.
Typically said when a speaker curses or says something inappropriate. This is a lighthearted way of apologizing. This one has always boggled me— why French?

Does anyone know the origins of these phrases? Do you ever say them yourself? They seem a bit old-fashioned, but on occasion I've caught myself using them.

Are there any other phrases that do this? In English or any other language?


I've always heard it as "Pardon my French"

I don't know where the French part comes from, I guess French people were seen as more comfortable with curse words :?:
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Postby Car » 2005-10-22, 11:30

We already had discussions about the first phrase, one thread is this one, but I know we had more of them.

It's really interesting to notice English uses "French" and not "English", since many other languages use the name of their own language, e.g. in German you have "auf gut Deutsch gesagt" ("said in good German").

In German, the respective phrases aren't out-dated at all, but are common.
Please correct my mistakes!


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