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  1. #1
    Stick figure on a beach Arnizipal's Avatar
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    Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    Every language has colourful sayings that don't translate well into English.
    Post them here for fun and profit*.

    Here are some sayings from Belgium/the Netherlands:
    • To polish the plate: To run away
    • To send you cat: Not showing up at an appointment
    • Now the monkey comes out of the sleeve: Now the truth is uncovered
    • Better one bird in hand than ten in the sky: Something is better than nothing
    • Looking for nails at low tide: To nag about details
    • When the cat's away from home, the mice dance on the table: If left unsupervised, people will take advantage of any situation
    • I haven't eaten this (kind of) cheese: I don't understand this subject
    • To call a cat a cat: To say it like it is
    • To turn a mosquito into an elephant: To exaggerate
    • A storm in a glass of water/a fart in a bottle: Making a lot of drama about a small issue


    I'll probably think of more later on, but I'm curious to hear about sayings in other languages as well






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    Quote Originally Posted by MOMUS View Post
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  2. #2
    Chaplain MDSW's Avatar
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    Re: Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    Ha! Many of those do have very common American equivalents, but some I have never really heard of before. I had an old Russian co-worker after hearing some story tell us a Russian saying and when asked how to translate into English, she said, "You can't put your head on someone else's shoulders. How do you say in America?" I really had to think and we did not really have a common saying about that, so I have always used the Russian translation whenever I need to say it!
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  3. #3
    Stick figure on a beach Arnizipal's Avatar
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    Re: Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    What did it mean though?
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOMUS View Post
    Nah Arni, it's not your fault you're old and cranky

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    Marine Skyrim's Avatar
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    Re: Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    A few of these have English equivalents

    Quote Originally Posted by Arnizipal
    Now the monkey comes out of the sleeve: Now the truth is uncovered
    The cat's out of the bag

    Quote Originally Posted by Arnizipal
    Better one bird in hand than ten in the sky: Something is better than nothing
    A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

    Quote Originally Posted by Arnizipal
    When the cat's away from home, the mice dance on the table: If left unsupervised, people will take advantage of any situation
    When the cat's away, the mice will play

    Quote Originally Posted by Arnizipal
    To call a cat a cat: To say it like it is
    Call a duck, a duck

    Quote Originally Posted by Arnizipal
    To turn a mosquito into an elephant: To exaggerate
    Turning a molehill into a mountain
    Quote Originally Posted by sigur View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Satan View Post
    Now, give me more urban fantasy!
    Alright, how about this: Busses being right on time. Amirite? Ahahaha, I crack myself up. :cheese:

  5. #5
    Marine Skyrim's Avatar
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    Re: Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    While these are all technically in English I don't believe they're used outside of Australia

    • A few kangaroos loose in the top paddock: used to descibe someone who is daft, strange, or loopy
    • She'll be apples: Everything will be okay
    • Flat out like a lizard drinking: To be very busy
    • See which way the cat jumps: Wait and see how things develop
    • Up a gum tree: In trouble
    • I'm not here to f!@k spiders: I am not here to waste time/I am here to get the job done
    • Fair suck of the sav: Steady on, be reasonable
    • Flash as a rat with a gold tooth: Ostentatious, showy and a bit too flashily dressed


    I know heaps (you can decern that one from context) more, but they tend to be single word replacements, or just potentially offensive
    Quote Originally Posted by sigur View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Satan View Post
    Now, give me more urban fantasy!
    Alright, how about this: Busses being right on time. Amirite? Ahahaha, I crack myself up. :cheese:

  6. #6
    Stick figure on a beach Arnizipal's Avatar
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    Re: Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    Quote Originally Posted by Skyrim View Post
    The cat's out of the bag
    Transporting cats in bags seems like a popular activity in the olden days.
    In Dutch you can buy a cat in a bag (if you buy something without checking the details first).

    Quote Originally Posted by Skyrim View Post
    While these are all technically in English I don't believe they're used outside of Australia
    I can confirm I've never heard those before.
    Are gum trees dangerous? Or very high?
    Why is it a problem being in them?
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOMUS View Post
    Nah Arni, it's not your fault you're old and cranky

  7. #7
    Marine Skyrim's Avatar
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    Re: Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    Quote Originally Posted by Arnizipal View Post
    Are gum trees dangerous? Or very high?
    Why is it a problem being in them?
    Gum tree oil vaporises on hot days leaving a smoggy miasma hanging over the eucalyptus groves. This gas is highly flammable. Large gum trees also have a shallow root system and tend to fall over relatively easily. You do not want them next to your house.

    None of this relates to the phrase "Up a gum tree", however. The phrase comes from the allusion of possums escaping up trees after being chased by hounds.
    Last edited by Skyrim; 25-07-2019 at 02:22.

  8. #8
    Chapter Master Bloodknight's Avatar
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    Re: Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    In Dutch you can buy a cat in a bag (if you buy something without checking the details first).
    I believe this has something to do with a skinned cat looking a lot like a skinned rabbit in size and shape. Basically you go out to buy a rabbit, don't check too closely and come back with a dead cat for your yummy stew.
    We have that saying in German as well: "Die Katze im Sack kaufen".
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    Chapter Master Karak Norn Clansman's Avatar
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    Re: Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    Advokater och soldater är djävulens lekkamrater = Lawyers and soldiers are the devil's playmates

  10. #10
    Stick figure on a beach Arnizipal's Avatar
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    Re: Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    Quote Originally Posted by Karak Norn Clansman View Post
    Advokater och soldater är djävulens lekkamrater = Lawyers and soldiers are the devil's playmates
    A good one

    Surprisingly, Dutch has very little sayings that involve lawyers.
    In fact I can't recall any at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOMUS View Post
    Nah Arni, it's not your fault you're old and cranky

  11. #11
    Chapter Master Bloodknight's Avatar
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    Re: Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    The Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I. supposedly, as quoted in the book Acta Borussica, introduced black woollen coats for lawyers in Prussia so that "people could recognize those rogues from afar and be on their guard".
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  12. #12
    Chapter Master sigur's Avatar
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    Re: Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    The Prussians don't fire that fast - Settle down, not so fast. There are several sources suggested for this one. Most probably it stems from around the time of the Austro-Prussian war in 1866. Appearantly officials in Vienna exclaimed it in disbelief after they received word of the new Prussian Dreyse eedle gun infantry rifles which were able to fire a lot faster than the regular muzzle-loaded muskets. Another possible explanation is that around that time the Prussians didn't instantly shoot deserters. They beat them half to death, but then nursed them back to health. Either way, it's a very common saying.

  13. #13
    Stick figure on a beach Arnizipal's Avatar
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    Re: Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    Ah, sayings about Germany. We have at least one of those, though I don't know where it originated.
    He hears the thunder in Cologne: He has no idea what's happening
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOMUS View Post
    Nah Arni, it's not your fault you're old and cranky

  14. #14
    Stick figure on a beach Arnizipal's Avatar
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    Re: Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    Here's some more that are slightly related to one-another:
    To throw oil on the fire: To make things worse intentionally. Can also be said when someone intensifies an argument
    To throw oil on the waves: The exact opposite of the above. Apparently the Dutch actually did this centuries ago to calm stormwaves in their harbours.

    To goad something to the point/tip: To intensify an argument.

    To throw the club in the henhouse: To cause a shock by saying or doing something (especially when it concerns some sort of revelation)
    To throw a stone in the frog pool: To cause a shock by saying or doing something (especially when it concerns an unpopular opinion)
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOMUS View Post
    Nah Arni, it's not your fault you're old and cranky

  15. #15
    Chapter Master Bloodknight's Avatar
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    Re: Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    The oil thing does indeed work:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storm_oil
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  16. #16
    Stick figure on a beach Arnizipal's Avatar
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    Re: Sayings in you own language and how they sound in English

    Science is weird.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOMUS View Post
    Nah Arni, it's not your fault you're old and cranky

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