I have been a very unenthusiastic blogger this week. Tuesday: I spent the day at my grandparent’s house and later had a sushi date with a friend. Wednesday: I had a massage and then spent the afternoon will another friend. And today, I worked. Now, I am feeling very lazy. So, for today…idioms.
Every language has its own set of idiomatic expressions–most of which make sense only when taken in light of the culture. Sometimes, though, while they remain in common use, their original reference is completely outdated and seems to make no sense whatsoever to those who are learning the language. In fact, sometimes when pressed to explain such expressions, even native speakers are puzzled by why certain colloquialisms are uttered. Such phrases as “break a leg,” “hit the nail on the head,” and “as easy as pie,” are common in the English language, though they are hardly meant to be taken literally. Americans, while quick to adopt a variety of expressions, often from a hodgepodge of cultural sources, usually have little knowledge of how they came to be in use, or perhaps even their original meanings. This can be equally true in other languages.
For example, my favorite Italian phase is, “in bocca al lupo,” which is literally translated as, “in the mouth of the wolf.” The response to this is, “crepi il lupo,” translated, “the wolf will die.” Of course, this idiomatic exchange has an interpreted meaning, which is similar to our term of good luck: break a leg. Going “into the mouth of a wolf” is symbolic of facing trouble, and the response “the wolf will die,” is indicative of success in the face of such obstacles. This exchange was often uttered between Professor Checca and us before a test.
- Frenchie and the Idio(t)matic Expressions (frenchieandtheyankee.com)
- idiom: to cross that bridge when (we) come to it (englishhelponline.wordpress.com)
- Learn English idioms – To Be Afraid (englishzedclub.wordpress.com)
- What does the idiom call it a day mean (wiki.answers.com)
- English Idioms Illustrated updated to celebrate its 50,000th download (robotmedia.net)