Tuesday, January 26, 2010

i've got other cats to flog.

How's that for a title to draw you in?

Let's have a little chat.  About French.  And English.  And idiomatic phrases.

Every language has them.  We use them every day, sometimes without even noticing.

'he really just has a green thumb'
'we'll cross that bridge when we come to it'
'i've got ants in my pants'

The funny part comes when you try to translate those phrases into another language.
I'm 99% certain that if I told a french person...
'j'ai des fourmis dans mes pantalons'
I wouldn't be invited to lunch next time.

I've been collecting some good ones...

'je parle comme une vache espagnol'
translation: 'i speak like a spanish cow'
real translation: 'i'm trying to speak french/spanish/german, but I'm completely butchering it'

'j'ai d'autres chats à fouetter'
translation: 'i've got other cats to flog/whip'
real translation/US translation: 'i've got other fish to fry'

'système D'
translation: system D
real translation: plan B.  As in, that's not going to work, we need a plan B.

'il avait un chat dans la gorge'
translation: 'he had a cat in his throat'
real translation: cat's got your tongue

'chanter comme une casserole'
translation: sing like a saucepan
real translation: you sing horribly

and maybe one of my favorites:
'occupe-toi de tes oignons'
translation: take care of your onions
real translation: mind your own business!

Don't you ever wonder where all these come from?
We should start our own idioms!
What would you say?



photo via here.

1 comment:

D said...

I once told our native Chinese business associate "there is more than one way to skin a cat". I could see him translating it and then a very unusual look on his face like "why in the hey would you want to skin a cat"?


food for thought.

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