The English Language has many strange idioms that we accept as pretty much normal, but would probably confuse a foreign speaker, for example; ‘Kick the Bucket’, or ‘Bob’s your Uncle’. This got us thinking about other countries, and their strange idioms that would confuse us! The lovely people at TED Blog asked various translators from around the world for their favourite foreign language idioms, and some of them are brilliant. Try to guess what these idioms mean and then scroll down for the answers!

1. “I only understand the train station” (Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof- German)

2. “To slide in on a shrimp sandwich.” (Att glida in på en räkmacka- Swedish)

3. “The hen sees the snake’s feet and the snake sees the hen’s boobs.” (ไก่เห็นตีนงู งูเห็นนมไก่ -Thai)

4. “To swallow grass snakes.” (Avaler des couleuvres- French)

5. “You can sharpen with an ax on top of this head.”(Хоть кол на голове теши- Russian)

6. “Willing to borrow a cat’s paws.” (猫の手も借りたい- Japanese)

7. “We see whose mother is spinning black wool.” (Da vidimo čija majka crnu vunu prede- Croatian)

8. “To push something with your belly.” (Empurrar com a barriga- Portuguese)

9. “Did an elephant stomp on your ear?” (Słoń nastąpił ci na ucho?- Polish)

10. “To blow little ducks.” (Pūst pīlītes.- Latvian)


The Answers:

1. You don’t understand a thing about what that person is saying.

2. Somebody who didn’t have to work to get where they are.

3. Two people who know each other’s secrets.

4. Being so insulted that you’re not able to reply.

5. He’s a very stubborn person.

6. You’re so busy that you’re willing to take help from anyone.

7. It’s like being the black sheep in the family.

8. To keep postponing an important chore.

9. You have no ear for music.

10. To talk nonsense or to lie.

Did you get any right? Which idiom is your favourite? Let us know on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

itl translations translate interpreter translator interpreting language languages translators international

Claim your free info pack now!

Yay! Check your inbox for your free download :)