Despite their different constructions and etymologies, expressions of parting across languages tend to communicate similar things, many of them outlining the hope of meeting again. English has borrowed many of the following foreign expressions of parting, so you’ve probably encountered some of these terms or their variants before. 1. adiós, adieu, addio, adeus Besides adieu […]
“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” –Oscar Wilde Only Oscar Wilde could be quite so frivolous when describing a matter as grave as the punctuation of poetry, something that causes particular grief in our […]
English is a language rich with weather idioms – right as rain, every cloud has a silver lining, and many others – but other languages obviously have their own special takes on phrases and proverbs relating to the weather. In this post, we take a look at idioms in other languages that deal with the sun, snow, sea, and sky.
While Caroline James has already challenged the belief that there’s anything like an untranslatable word, we nonetheless felt inspired to explore the lexicon of foreign languages in search of interesting words that don’t have an exact equivalent in English. Such an endeavour can often yield amusing results, but also give insight into the peculiarities of […]
We recently took a look at idioms from around the world that use rain as a metaphor; today we turn our attention to those from German, Chinese, Russian, and more, that use winds and storms to get their point across. 1. In den Wind schreiben Language: German Translation: To write in the wind What does it […]
A few months ago I took part in a discussion of Kafka on Melvyn Bragg’s radio programme In Our Time. One of the other participants asserted that Kafka’s style describes horrific events in the emotionally deadpan tone of a bureaucrat report. This struck me immediately as wrong in lots of ways. I didn’t disagree, because […]
What is Esperanto? Esperanto is a constructed language, invented by Jewish-Polish eye doctor Zamenhof in the late 19th century. The story behind the creation of this language is linked to Dr Zamenhof’s hometown. At a crossroads of wars in Europe, the town was split among German, Russian, Polish, and Jewish communities, that could not get […]
Have you ever noticed that many of our swear words sound very much like German ones and not at all like French ones? From vulgar words for body parts (a German Arsch is easy to identify, but not so the French cul), to scatological and sexual verbs (doubtless you can spot what scheissen and ficken […]