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11 Phrases That Sound Nonsensical When Translated Into English

11 Phrases That Sound Nonsensical When Translated Into English

There are many words and phrases out there that have no exact translation into English. Some make a bit of sense, but there are also certain idiomatic phrases and expressions that are downright mind-boggling when translated into English. Here are a few of the latter:

#1 “The old lady with cakes has already passed by.”

This Croatian gem means that an opportunity has passed: you missed your chance. The next time you see an old lady carrying a tray full of cakes, you’d best tackle the woman. Get those cakes!

#2 “There are many wonders in a cow’s head.”

Now, there are many fabulous aspects of Icelandic culture, and their sprightly language is certainly one of them. This expression is roughly equivalent to: “Well, doesn’t that beat all.” Should you come home to find that a troll has moved into the space beneath your sink, this would be the appropriate saying to blurt out.

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#3 “The pot that is full does not splash.”

The general idea of this expression, taken from the Kannada tongue of southern India, is a description of someone who isn’t merely conceited and pompous, but is insufferable because he or she is unaware of their jackassery. Most of us probably know at least one person who fits that description.

#4 “To fart off your suspenders.”

Here in Quebec, there are a number of interesting expressions and this one is no exception. It means “to burst with pride”, which would undoubtedly cause one’s suspenders to snap off. Considering this region’s fondness for beans, I have little doubt as to its origins.

Speaking of Quebecois French…

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#5 “The Devil’s in the cows”

This apparently means that the weather will be changing soon, but what weather has to do with cows, I have no idea. I apologise on behalf of everyone in this province.

#6  “Wearing a cat.”

A Japanese expression that implies that someone is putting on a facade of being cute, meek, and quiet, while really being none of those things. Considering that my cat is a mouse-murdering, neurotic weirdo, I don’t think that wearing him would give quite the impression of sweetness that this saying would imply.

#7 “Don’t let someone else eat the cheese off your bread.”

I’ve heard a few different explanations for this Dutch expression, and although the one that makes the most sense has to do with not allowing someone else to take credit for what you’ve done, I have to wonder if that’s the real meaning. If you know it, please don’t hesitate to explain it in the comments section below.

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#8 “It fit like ass on a bucket”

Where would we be without subtle, gentle German phrases? This colourful and illustrative expression means “a perfect fit”, much like one would achieve by wedging one’s backside into a bucket.

#9 “That breaks my clog.”

Considering the clog reference, you may have inferred that this is another Dutch gem, but the idea behind it is akin to: “Well, that takes the cake.” It’s an expression of amazement that’s reserved for occasions when something really unexpected happens… like seeing a sheep behind the wheel of a neighbour’s car, or noticing that the windmills have been replaced with spinach.

#10 “Stop your chariot!”

Although one would have little need to yell at someone to stop their chariot nowadays, this French expression (from France, rather than here in French-Canadian land) is a request for another to stop bluffing/bullshitting. The next time someone claims to have done something and you know it’s a load of bollocks, just yodel “Arrête ton char!” at them and see how they react.

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#11 “To become a goat.”

This is another one that hails from France, and it means to be driven mad. If you’ve ever seen an angry goat, you can well understand how this saying came to be.
In all honesty, I think that some of these phrases should make their way into common vernacular, so please—don’t hesitate to pepper your daily speech and written exchanges with them. Before we know it, they’ll have worked their way into everyone’s vocabulary, and English as a whole will be a much more colourful language because of them.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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