You might think our English language has some crazy sayings, but we’re not alone. Here are some of my favourite sayings from other languages:
We might say ‘when pigs fly’ – meaning we don’t believe something will ever happen. Germans have a saying ‘I think my pig whistles’ meaning I can’t believe it. In French they say, ‘when hens have teeth’, in Russian they say, ‘when a lobster whistles on top of a mountain’ and in Dutch ‘when the cows are dancing on the ice’.
Our expression ‘to buy a pig in a poke’, meaning to buy something without inspecting it first, is also used in German, Swedish, Polish.
In Portuguese, to have a crazy idea is ‘to have little monkeys inside your head’. All talk and no action in Spanish is called ‘a lot of noise and no walnuts’.
In French, ‘the carrots are cooked’ means the situation can’t be changed and ‘to have mustard going up your nose’ means to lose your temper.
In Italian, ‘to treat you with fish in your face’ means to disrespect you and when you can’t see something right in front of you, it’s ‘to have eyes lined with ham’, or ‘to have tomatoes in your eyes’ in German.
Also, in German, ‘An elephant made out of a fly’ is making a big deal out of nothing. ‘Everything has one end, only a sausage has two’ means that everything comes to an end. And when Germans feel you need at least two drinks to have a good time, they say ‘there is no standing on one leg’.
In Mandarin Chinese, ‘drawing a snake with feet’ means telling a story with longwinded, unnecessary information and ‘to fish in troubled waters’ is to profit illegally or take advantage of a crisis.
In Swedish, ‘to slide in on a shrimp sandwich’ refers to someone who didn’t have to work to get where they are and ‘it fell between chairs’ is an excuse when two people were supposed to do something, and nobody did it.
In Latvian, ‘go pick mushrooms’ means go away.
In Russian, doing something hastily is said to be ‘galloping across Europe’, and when someone has an uneasy conscience that betrays itself, they say ‘the thief has a burning hat’. ‘You can sharpen with an axe on top of his head’ means ‘He’s a very stubborn person’.
I hope you enjoyed these sayings!