Saturday, May 23, 2015

Pushing up Daisies

An idiom is a phrase in which the literal translation of a group of words appears to have no connection to the actual circumstance of its use but is understood in that particular linguistic culture. For example, "hold your horses," although it once did, now has nothing to do with holding horses. It means wait, but it also has a sense of you are too impatient. And "raining cats and dogs" would be a really strange event, but we native English speakers know what it means and would take an umbrella if someone reported that. And to have butterflies in one's stomach doesn't necessarily mean we've been eating caterpillars. Non-native speakers of English study idioms as part of their language learning. * * * * * ** * To be pushing up daisies is not a good thing for a gardening enthusiast, or for anyone for that matter. And we all inevitably "kick the bucket." In Greek, a comparable idiom is to "shake the horse-shoes." In Norway, we would "park the slippers." And in Hindustan, we might say in Urdu, "the elephant escaped but his tail got stuck." * * * * * * * Other foreign idioms include, Swedish - “To slide in on a shrimp sandwich" when referring to someone who didn't have to work to get where they are. And when you tell a lie in Latvia, you "blow little ducks." In Japan, if you "wear a cat on your head" you are pretending to be a nice person. And in Korea, “A dog with feces scolds a dog with husks of grain.” Apparently this is akin to our "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." * * * * * ** * So I got to thinking about idioms and came up with several I'd like to see spread like wildfire. "To polish one's shoes with cow dung" means to make a bad choice. "To eat a sparrow with a fork" means to strive too hard. "To see grasshoppers on the shark's head" means something's not right here. "To steal the taco" means jumping in line at a checkout counter. "To chase a barn swallow in an oxen-pulled wagon laden with horse manure on a hot day" means to engage fruitlessly in an impossible project. For putting off what needs to be done (like grading this stack of research papers that was in front of me) to do what is more fun and enjoyable: "to watch the stars from the treetops instead of rendering the lard." For taking a break from grading papers to walk the dog is "to skin the mongoose while the snake is watching." For getting tired but caught up in old movie on tv is "to wash fish while the t-shirt dries on the line." To wake up slowly while having coffee in the morning is "to hang carrots from the barn rafters." My new idiom for time to do something: "the armadillo must fly on the afternoon breeze." "The oyster which has no pearl must not be eaten with the morning picked radish" means a necessary task is not yet done. My new idiom for I'm tired and am going to bed: "as the turtle dove coos at night so does the midnight moon fall from the sky." As they say in Mgwamba, when speaking of fate, "As the crows bathe in the afternoon sun, so do the worms consume the flesh of our ancestors." "Rolling the dice in the doggie dish" means to taking in inappropriate chances. My brother Jerry offered this up in response to my making up idioms: A made up idiom for reading made up idioms: "Passing a cabbage through a shredder, blending it with seasoned ground pork, and stuffing it into sausage skins." He's like that. My idiom for making up idioms about making up idioms is "to roast water buffalo meat and eat yams all day while the creek rises too fast." And my brother Jerry further responded: "The people of Ghana make fufu, their traditional food, by pounding yams in a mortar and mixing in a little water. So, another made up idiom for reading made up idioms: Having your brain pounded into fufu." To which I say with all due respect: "don't sit with the goats while the fufu burns."


Blogger Unknown said...

the republicans get a week off!

5:00 AM  

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