One of the skills of a good translator is being able to render an idiom in the target language by conveying the meaning of the sentence and keeping the tone and style of the text. Not always easy!
Just as well we like a challenge! Here are a couple of our favourites in French and Spanish:
Les doigts dans le nez
Literal translation: fingers in the nose (and you might even hear some French people using the English version, just to confuse non-French speakers even more!!)
Actual meaning: something is really easy
Rire dans sa barbe
Literal translation: to laugh into one’s beard
Actual meaning: to chuckle quietly to oneself
Raconter des salades
Literal translation: to talk salad
Actual meaning: to tell tall stories, fibs
La vache !
Literal translation: the cow!
Actual meaning: Wow!
Revenons à nos moutons
Literal translation: let’s get back to our sheep
Actual meaning: Let’s get back to the matter in hand
Tirar la casa por la ventana
Literal translation: To throw the house out of the window
Actual meaning: to spare no expenses
Ser más lento que el caballo del malo
Literal translation: to be slower than the horse of the bad guy
Actual meaning: to be really slow (the origin of this idiom is related to Western films)
Echar agua al mar
Literal translation: to throw water into the sea
Actual meaning: something is pointless
Hay gato encerrado
Literal translation: there’s a cat locked away
Actual meaning: something’s going on, something is afoot
Disfrutar como un enano
Literal translation: to have fun like a dwarf
Actual meaning: to have a great time
Now that you’ve got the hang of these expressions, you’ll be able to sound like a true polyglot!
See you soon at The Home of Translation, by Peter Hancock and Garry Hutton