Lost in Translation: Five Foreign Idioms in English

Lost in Translation: Five Foreign Idioms in English

Idioms sometimes puzzle even native speakers of a language. Would you like to try figuring out some international idioms? Award-winning artist Paul Blow illustrated some of the most colorful idioms from all over the world. Here are five of the funniest shared in an article on Viking Direct.

When Chicken Have Teeth

If you know anything about chicken anatomy, you know that chickens have beaks. They do not have teeth. This French phrase is the equivalent of the English expression “when pigs fly.” It describes an event that is highly unlikely or even impossible.

When Chicken Have Teeth image

To Swallow Some Camels

Acknowledging that you were wrong is a hard thing to do. In Norway, they liken the process to swallowing camels. Why camels? Perhaps it’s because they are large, hairy, and have humps. The expression “to swallow some camels” means to concede or to admit that your viewpoint was incorrect.

To Swallow Some Camels image

To Slide in on a Prawn Sandwich

Prawns, otherwise known as shrimp, may not be a common sandwich topping where you live. However, to Swedes, prawn sandwiches are delicious to eat and great to slide in on! Well, not literally because that might be dangerous, but as an idiom, the phrase means to to have a carefree life.

To Slide in on a Prawn Sandwich image

My Cheeks Are Falling Off!

Doesn’t this seem like the last thing you would want to happen? Actually, it just means that a meal is particularly tasty. If you tell the chef that your cheeks are falling off, it’s high praise in Japan. Are you brave enough to try saying it at your favorite sushi spot?

My Cheeks Are Falling Off! image

The Raisin at End of the Hotdog

In Chicago, common hotdog toppings are mustard, pickle, and onion. Other parts of the world favor toppings as diverse as bacon and sauerkraut. How would you feel if you were served a hotdog with raisins? Wouldn’t you be shocked? That’s exactly what the expression means. In Iceland, they use the expression to describe a surprising twist.

The Raisin at End of the Hotdog image

To Tie a Bear to Someone

In addition to being scared out of your wits, you might be extremely confused if someone attached a bear to your leg. To tie a bear to someone is a German expression that means “to confuse.” It’s funny that the Germans picked a bear as the confounding addition. After all, it would be weird to tie any wild animal to anyone else! If you are reading a novel and you can’t keep up with the plot twists, you might remember this colorful expression.

To Tie a Bear to Someone image

Which of these idioms is your favorite? Do you have a funny idiom in your native language? Share your best or your worst expressions below.

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