Mental Floss

5 Foreign Sayings That Just Don't Translate

Shaunacy Ferro
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In Romanian, to pull someone out of their watermelons—Îl scoți din pepeni—is to drive them crazy.

REPRINTED FROM THE ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF SAYINGS COPYRIGHT © 2016 BY ELLA FRANCES SANDERS. PUBLISHED BY TEN SPEED PRESS, AN IMPRINT OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE LLC.

Tá mé ar muin na muice: This Irish saying means that you're feeling good or living large. To be "on the pig's back" means to be well off or in luck.  

REPRINTED FROM THE ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF SAYINGS COPYRIGHT © 2016 BY ELLA FRANCES SANDERS. PUBLISHED BY TEN SPEED PRESS, AN IMPRINT OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE LLC.

The Serbian phrase nosom para oblake—or "he's ripping clouds with his nose"—means a person is conceited. Much like looking down your nose at someone. 

REPRINTED FROM THE ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF SAYINGS COPYRIGHT © 2016 BY ELLA FRANCES SANDERS. PUBLISHED BY TEN SPEED PRESS, AN IMPRINT OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE LLC.

In Portuguese, "to feed a donkey sponge cake"—alimentar um burro a pão de ló—means treating someone better than they deserve. A donkey, after all, cannot appreciate how great sponge cake really is.



REPRINTED FROM THE ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF SAYINGS COPYRIGHT © 2016 BY ELLA FRANCES SANDERS. PUBLISHED BY TEN SPEED PRESS, AN IMPRINT OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE LLC.

In Spanish, being someone's other half, or soul mate, is more delicious than in English. Spanish speakers say "you are my orange half": Tu eres mi media naranja.

REPRINTED FROM THE ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF SAYINGS COPYRIGHT © 2016 BY ELLA FRANCES SANDERS. PUBLISHED BY TEN SPEED PRESS, AN IMPRINT OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE LLC.

Sanders is also the author of Lost in Translation, a book illustrating untranslatable words that we covered back in 2014The Illustrated Book of Sayings is available for $15.

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