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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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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 25, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

When we were still children, our thoughts seemed to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

Just imagine then, how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power!

We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities.

We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

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We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb.

We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits.

And we’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head…

But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

So, how can we tap into the power of positivity?

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“Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are 4 simple yet powerful ideas on how you can get started.

1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

Just take a look at these 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life.

2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

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You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty.

If you seek it, you will find it.

3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what really is important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

Here’re 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life that can inspire you.

4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking.

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Instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

Learn from this article how to change your mental images: How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts

If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

And remember:

You are (or will become) what you think you are.

This is reasonable enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

More About Staying Positive

Featured photo credit: Lauren Richmond via unsplash.com

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