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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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