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40 brilliant idioms that simply can’t be translated literally January 28, 2015

Posted by P, J, or J in Uncategorized.

The NIV translates Mark 9:49 as ‘Everyone will be salted with fire.’ which is apparently a fairly literal translation but not a very helpful one. You can read more about the challenges of translating that verse at http://www.kouya.net/?p=6749 .
Meanwhile here’s something I just came across on phrases from other languages that don’t quite work in literal translation…

TED Blog

Tomato_Eyes What does it mean to “have tomatoes on your eyes?” Find out below…

By Helene Batt and Kate Torgovnick May

It’s a piece of cake. You can’t put lipstick on a pig. Why add fuel to the fire? Idioms are those phrases that mean more than the sum of their words. As our Open Translation Project volunteers translate TED Talks into 105 languages, they’re often challenged to translate English idioms into their language. Which made us wonder: what are their favorite idioms in their own tongue?

Below, we asked translators to share their favorite idioms and how they would translate literally. The results are laugh-out-loud funny.

From German translator Johanna Pichler:

The idiom: Tomaten auf den Augen haben.
Literal translation: “You have tomatoes on your eyes.”
What it means: “You are not seeing what everyone else can see. It refers to real objects, though — not abstract meanings.”

View original post 1,656 more words


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[…] was a lighthearted look at whether pets go to heaven (sorry if you’ve just lost a pet), some idioms from around the world, Bible translation statistics from 2015, and thoughts on voice searchable digital […]


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