Throughout the years, I’ve met students from many foreign countries, including Nepal, Afghanistan and Colombia. When it comes to learning English, several of them have said the same thing -- idioms make learning English more difficult. One student went so far as to keep a notebook of idioms to help her remember them.
Idioms are figurative phrases, like “Cat got your tongue?” Idioms are used worldwide, but are difficult for any non-native speakers to understand because they literally don’t make sense.
Recently, I heard about a book of idioms used around the world titled “I’m not hanging noodles from your ears,” by Jag Bhalla for National Geographic Books. The title comes from a Russian idiom that sounded funny to me because it means “I’m not pulling your leg.” Of course, as soon as I realized that, I understood how ridiculous “pulling your leg” sounds because it also has nothing to do with being truthful, honest or believable.
In my search for more knowledge, fun and examples, I turned to Wikipedia, which offered several idioms for the phrase “Kick the bucket*.” My favorite one was Latvian, for “Put the spoon down.” In Polish they say “Kick the calendar,” in Portuguese, “To beat the boots” and in Norwegian it’s “To park the slippers.”
I’m not hanging noodles from your ears (or pulling your leg) when I tell you I had fun researching idioms. Do you have a favorite? Don’t wait til the cows come home to leave a comment!
*Also a euphemism, a word or phrase used to soften a harsh or unpleasant word or phrase.