Sunday, June 22, 2008

Don't yell hi

Going through the process of getting a new car, I was relieved each time I made progress with an ID card, loan or license plates.

"It's almost done now!" I thought.

But I had to remind myself of the old Swedish saying: "Don't yell hi until you've crossed the river." ("Don't count your chickens until they've hatched.")

It made me think of more Swedish idioms, and how some lack good American equivalents. Many are based on nature, animals, food or working outdoors. Here are some examples:

Go like the cat around hot porridge (oatmeal) - Beat about the bush.

Be hot on the porridge (oatmeal) - Be very eager.

Now you are out riding your bicycle! - You don't know what you're talking about!

Small pots also have ears - Children will hear and understand more than you think.

The lazy one would rather kill himself by carrying too much than make two trips

Here is your pay for old cheese - It's payback time!

He has gnomes in the attic - He is out of his mind

Cows rarely jump backwards up into apple trees to snatch pears - complicated way of saying it's not gonna happen, it's impossible

I wasn't born in a mud room - I'm not stupid, I wasn't born yesterday

Throw the ax in the lake - To give up

Now the boiled pork is fried! - Now you're in deep shit!

He has planted his last potato - He's done (i.e. "I'm getting revenge now")

That's not much to hange in the Christmas tree - It's not worth much

He was caught with his beard in the mailbox - Caught with his pants down, caught by surprise


BluePlastic said...

Hee hee! Those are awesome. I love to see what idioms are popular in other languages and cultures, and the different metaphors and similes they came up with to express similar concepts.

One that I learned in Japanese that I liked is "gomasuri," which means "grinding sesame seeds" and is used to indicate that someone is kissing up or being a brown-noser (since, the explanation I read goes, ground-up sesame seeds are messy and get stuck to things, just like the kiss-up is trying to gain favor by clinging to people who he thinks can give him advantage.)

And then there's just the sad Japanese ones, like "The nail that sticks up will get pounded down," which is just a sad comment on a culture that doesn't value individuality. :(

ab said...

They look so strange in English!

Let me add: "I wasn't dropped behind a wagon".

Vickan said...

AB> That's a good one. I also thought of this:

"If there's room in your heart, there room for another butt"

meaning that you can always fit another person at the dinner table if you really want to. (My grandmother uses this expression a lot)

ankanej said...

Underbart att läsa dessa uttryck. De låter verkigen helt knasigt på engelska :)

Hopp i form Maria! said...

håller med AK. knasigt! men den om kona och päronen var ny, har aldrig hört.