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Differences in Polish and English idioms



malwinaflower 1 | 11    
16 Dec 2010  #1

Hello, I've just started giving private lessons to an English woman who wants to learn Polish and I want to prepare a lesson devoted to idioms.

I would like to ask you, what idioms you find amusing, which of the Polish idioms have a sematically identical meaning with the ones in English, and which do you think are the most useful for Polish people?

Thanks for any comment!


annemb 3 | 10    
16 Dec 2010  #2

I recently heard a funny idiom in Polish: "Once in a Russian year" which in English sounds Once in a blue moon :-)

I wonder where did it come from...

Oh, and one more: "A roll with butter" means "A piece of cake".
I think these are quite common idioms, both in Polish, and English.
Teffle 22 | 1,321    
16 Dec 2010  #3

Might be better if you checked out a list of English idioms and advised her of their Polish counterparts - or near equivalents - first.

There are many that are identical but obviously quite a few differences.

One that sticks out for me:

To die

(Eng) "kick the bucket"

(Pl) "Kick the calendar"

Both equally nonsensical really
Wroclaw 45 | 5,409    
16 Dec 2010  #4

"kick the bucket"

from wiki. for those who may be interested.

''A common theory is that the idiom comes from a method of execution such as hanging, or perhaps suicide, in the Middle Ages. A noose is tied around the neck while standing on an overturned bucket. When the pail is kicked away, the victim is hanged.''
frdalloway 1 | 19    
16 Dec 2010  #5

I remember a few idioms from my Polish course. Our teacher devoted the whole workshop for this very difficult, but quite funny topic.

The same are e.g. Break a leg - Polamania nóg ; To have butterflies in your stomach - Mieć motyle w brzuchu.

My favourite are:

What has that to do with anything? - Co ma piernik do wiatraka? (which in English is: What has gingerbread to do with a windmill? :-))

To pass with flying colours - Zdac spiewajaco.
Teffle 22 | 1,321    
16 Dec 2010  #6

''A common theory...

Makes sense alright.

And while we're on the subject of idioms, note to all, virtually NOBODY uses the phrase "raining cats and dogs" !!

Never mind what your teacher might have told you : )
bimber94 7 | 254    
16 Dec 2010  #7

One idiom which Poles sometimes still use makes me cringe: 'I'm as cross as two sticks'. This is infinitely older than Adam and is clearly from a veeerrryy old dictionary.

Other idioms sound completely different but mean the same thing: English - 'out of the frying pan and into the fire' - in Polish is 'out of the rain and under the gutter'.

This shows that different nations think alike but use different "mental furniture".
Teffle 22 | 1,321    
16 Dec 2010  #8

"mental furniture".

I like it!

I thinking "throwing the baby out with the bath water" is identical by the way.
zetigrek    
16 Dec 2010  #9

hich of the Polish idioms have a sematically identical meaning

cry over a spilt milk

I would like to ask you, what idioms you find amusing,

obudzić się z ręką w nocniku (wake up with the hand in a potty)

And while we're on the subject of idioms, note to all, virtually NOBODY uses the phrase "raining cats and dogs" !!

really?

from wiki. for those who may be interested.

''A common theory is that the idiom comes from a method of execution such as hanging, or perhaps suicide, in the Middle Ages. A noose is tied around the neck while standing on an overturned bucket. When the pail is kicked away, the victim is hanged.''

what about "as cool as cucumber"?
Teffle 22 | 1,321    
16 Dec 2010  #11

obudzić się z ręką w nocniku (wake up with the hand in a potty)

Ha ha - I like it! same meaning as "having egg on your face" maybe?

really?

Yes really. Every time the subject of idioms comes up with my "students" this one rears its head.

It's kind of the standard example of how odd idioms can be I suppose but I can quite confidently say that I have never once heard an English speaker say this though.

I reckon it's probably of my grandmother's era - earlier maybe (she is 92 by the way)

Nice link Wroclaw!
zetigrek    
16 Dec 2010  #12

Ha ha - I like it! same meaning as "having egg on your face" maybe?

No it means to wake up in a bad situation when there's already too late to change it.
Wroclaw 45 | 5,409    
16 Dec 2010  #13

zetigrek

it's raining cats and dogs, you can even see the poodles

the ending is a play on words.

one might say it's 'bucketing down'
zetigrek    
16 Dec 2010  #14

it's raining cats and dogs, you can even see the poodles

haha

Ok next cool polish idiom:
pasować jak pięść do oka (to fit like a fist to an eye)
noreenb 7 | 554    
16 Dec 2010  #15

I find useful these ones:
"the tip of the iceberg": wierzchołek góry lodowej
"play second fiddle": grać drugie skrzypce
"the bottom line": bilans zysków i strat - a bit different meaning in Polish, what is interesting
"keep your chin up": nie upadać na duchu, nie poddawać się
"turn the corner": wyść z kryzysu na prostą
A bit amusing?
"flog a dead horse": tracić czas i energię
Wroclaw 45 | 5,409    
16 Dec 2010  #16

to fit like a fist to an eye

to fit like a glove
zetigrek    
16 Dec 2010  #17

but to fit like a fist to an eye means that something doesn't fit really...
Wroclaw 45 | 5,409    
16 Dec 2010  #18

ham and eggs (go together)

chalk and cheese ( don't go together)

or maybe: it's apples and pears.

actually i'll let someone wiser than me come up with something.
Serniksista - | 8    
16 Dec 2010  #19

One of my faves:

Polish: "Między młotem a kowadłem"

English equiv: "Between the devil and the deep blue sea"

Meaning: in a desperate dilemma; faced with alternatives which are equally undesirable
zetigrek    
16 Dec 2010  #20

owijać w bawełnę (to wrap into a cotton) = beat around the bush
pi razy oko (pi times an eye) = more less
nie ma sprawy = no problem
pluć sobie w brodę (to spit on own chin/beard) = to kick oneself

here you have some useful translations: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:Polish_idioms
alexw68    
16 Dec 2010  #21

owijać w bawełnę (to wrap into a cotton) = beat around the bush

More literally - 'to wrap in cotton wool' - same idiom methinks.
Teffle 22 | 1,321    
16 Dec 2010  #22

Not true. When I'm being polite I do

Ok, well that's one person - any more? ; )

This means to be embarrassed. Simple.

Er...I know. I was trying to draw a parallel with Zeti's example.

Another one: "It's all Greek (or double Dutch) to me" meaning difficult to understand.

I wonder what the Polish version is?
cinek 2 | 328    
17 Dec 2010  #23

Another one: "It's all Greek (or double Dutch) to me" meaning difficult to understand.

I wonder what the Polish version is?

Chineese (Dla mnie to chińszczyzna)

Cinek
OP malwinaflower 1 | 11    
20 Dec 2010  #24

Thank you very much for your answers.

I also find very useful:

1. the fifth wheel to a coach - (the same in Polish) piąte koło u wozu someone unwanted
2. a big cheese - gruba ryba :-) (totally different idioms) V.I.P., important persona
3. like father, like son - jaki ojciec, taki syn (the same)
4. a sacred cow - święta krowa (the same) a person or belief that is so important that no one should criticize it

Oh and one more (I didn't know that in English it's the same): Manna from heaven - manna z nieba (something very useful received unexpectedly).
Varsovian 93 | 638    
20 Dec 2010  #25

BURIED DOGS!!!!!!!
This Polish expression always had me puzzled ... that is, until now. It's actually German!

begraben (buried) > Da liegt der Hund begraben.
That's the crux/heart of the matter.

Origin: The expression really has nothing to do with a dog (Hund). It goes back to an old German word for "treasure": die hunde. So the phrase actually means "that's where the treasure's buried."
Teffle 22 | 1,321    
20 Dec 2010  #26

Chineese (Dla mnie to chińszczyzna)

Yeah, we actually say Chinese in English too sometimes : )
Matyjasz 2 | 1,544    
20 Dec 2010  #27

begraben (buried) > Da liegt der Hund begraben.
That's the crux/heart of the matter.

I like the other version more: I tu krowa dała nura! :)

What about some newer idioms like : Rozmowa buta z ch***m. The more polite translation would be "A conversation between a boot and a croach". ;)
annemb 3 | 10    
12 Jan 2011  #28

I'm a beginner in Polish, and I was wondering where can I find lessons with idioms for my level of proficiency.
Is there a book which presents certain idioms with e.g. pictures, descriptions?

Thanks malwinaflower, you intrigued me with the topic ;)
frdalloway 1 | 19    
12 Jan 2011  #29

Is there a book which presents certain idioms

I used "Polski Krok po Kroku" book during my Polish course, and I rememeber that there was a list of idioms for beginners. You can check some extracts from this book on polskikrokpokroku.pl

I hope you'll find sth for yourself.

Good luck with Polish ;)
Cardno85 31 | 976    
12 Jan 2011  #30

Ok, well that's one person - any more? ; )

I use it, but only if I am trying to be amusing by using an out of date idiom...

Plus, it's nicer than saying it's pishing down, no?




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