Sunday, 20 October 2013

Going to bed with the chickens

I was a little unwell at the beginning of the week but by Tuesday was feeling better, although a little washed out. When a friend asked me how I was doing I replied "nothing that a good night's sleep wouldn't cure". "Ah!" he replied "You are going to bed with the chickens", apparently in his native Portugal this means having an early night. Andrew & I liked that so it has joined our repertoire. We were also trying to think of a phrase for an early night in English but could only think of those for an early rising.

Foreign idioms can be a hazard to anyone who, like me, is trying to get to grips with another language (I keep a notebook to hand to jot any down that I find). Some translate, the French also have 'the cherry on the cake' and 'elbow grease'

Via Tesco

but what would I do when confronted with a man with sea urchins in his pocket? Apparently not expect him to buy me a coffee - he's mean with money. Now dropping sea life into a conversation would probably alert me to a possible linguistic hurdle but to find a man 'avoir du chien' would have me  looking around and reaching in my pocket for doggy treats. Apparently it means having a certain charm.

Charming AND has a dog!

My favourite is the French 'L'heure entre chien et loup' meaning dusk. It's a favourite time of day for me as it holds a sense of anticipation edged with a slight hint of danger as the light slowly fades.

The foreign phrase I use most often is not French but Italian. I'm not given to swearing much, partly it was drummed into me as a child that it was VERY BAD but also that it is a lazy use of language. But should an oath fall from my lips then it is likely to be "Porca Miseria!"

Not much 'miseria' here!

I could list more but would love to know yours - and any useful references would be much appreciated!


  1. I didn't have time to respond to this before we went off to Bilbao. Our favourite French phrase is 'Ça ne casse pas trois pattes à un canard'. Yes, it does translate as you think it does, but it MEANS 'It's nothing to write home about'. *sigh*

    1. I'm glad you gave it's meaning Margaret -I'd have been completely lost. It does seem that animals crop up a lot with these idioms - on both sides of the channel. Haven't caught up with your Bilbao trip yet - is it wrong to wish for rain and and afternoon with my laptop by the fire?