Student and Graduate Publishing

Top Five International Idioms for the Brit Abroad

Monday, 21 August 2017 11:58

You might think that the English language has the oddest sayings: I don’t know who Bob is, but he’s definitely not my uncle. However, many if not all languages have their own proverbs that make hilariously little sense when translated, so if you’re a Brit studying abroad in any of these countries, roll out one of these phrases and you’ll blend in effortlessly. (Even better, do it when you’re back home.)

5) Russian: Вешать лапшу на уши 

Literally translating as ‘to hang noodles on one's ears’, this means somebody is talking a lot of rubbish.
Example use: “Henry’s trying to use lots of idioms from other countries… but I think he’s hanging noodles on his ears.”

4) Italian: avere gli occhi foderati di prosciutto

This one means ‘to have your eyes covered in ham’, and is used to describe someone who can’t see something that’s blatantly obvious.
Example use: “You’ve got ham over your eyes, he’s so in love with you.”

3) Chinese: 七窍生烟 (qīqiàoshēngyān)

This directly translates as ‘to emit smoke from seven orifices’, which means to be very angry.
Example use: “Honestly, if my Student Finance hasn’t gone in by next week, I’m going to emit smoke from seven orifices.”

2) Swedish: Finns det hjärterum, finns det stjärterum

This wonderful phrase literally means ‘If there’s room in the heart, there’s room in the butt,’ and is used to mean ‘if we like you, we’ll make room for you’.
Example use: Yeah, you might have to share a room with Grandma and her pet goat, but if there’s room in the heart, there’s room in the butt, right…?

And in at the top spot… 

1) Vietnamese: tránh vỏ dưa gặp vỏ dừa

Just like the English ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’, this phrase translates to ‘escape from a watermelon rind only to meet a coconut shell.’ No, absolutely no idea.
Example use: I quit my terrible customer service job, but now I’m working for my Dad’s business selling handmade crocheted iguanas on Etsy. Escaped from a watermelon rind only to meet a coconut shell, huh?

- By Ellie Masterman