While browsing through various blogs yesterday, I came across a post by Sridevi at “coconut craze” (https://coconutcraze.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/easy-mexican-ricespanish-rice-with-beans/ ). She shared a story about a nickel. This brought back memories, of when I first arrived in the US many years ago.
Foreign languages are hard enough to learn, add in the everyday lingo and idioms, and that really can leave a newcomer puzzled. And as if that’s not enough, there are countless unspoken social rules one is expected to know as well.
Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles, I noticed numerous “gift shops” along Sunset Boulevard. In German, the word gift means poison! Unfamiliar with the word gift shop, I quietly wondered if they actually sold poison there. You see, when I learned English as a child, I was taught that it was a “present”. For weeks I pondered the question, feeling too embarrassed to ask anyone.
There were other expressions too, like : let your hair down; it’s right up your alley; add insult to injury; costs an arm and a leg; hit the sack; take it with a grain of salt.
To this day, I still discover idioms I’ve never heard before.
The German language has its fair share of idioms. Hadn’t thought about them in a long time. Then I stumbled across a post by bekitschig, that made me smile. Long list of idioms used in that language. Hopefully you’ll take a moment to check it out at: https://bekitschig.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/the-germans-have-a-word-for-it/ .
A friend visiting Germany, was surprised when he ordered a glass of ice water at a cafe. Moments later he was served a glass of room temperature water and a dish of ice cream. At that time, German people rarely put ice cubes in their drinks, and “Eis”, pronounced the same way as ice, meant ice cream.
The globe is getting smaller every day. We can connect instantly with anyone, anywhere in the world.
Most importantly though, a big smile always goes a long ways in any language.
Of course, there are also plenty of moments, when no words are needed!
If your words ever get lost in translation, just smile and try again.