Posts Tagged ‘Idioms’

Time for some unpretentious linguistic fun once again. I have always found this little linguistic comparison to be amusing, as it is a case of well-known stereotypes being reinforced not by outsiders, but from within each community of speakers. We are talking about how the four languages I speak express – through well-crystallised idioms – the notion that a specific issue should be kept out of the interlocutor’s sphere of interest, so to speak…

So, an English speakers would go with the good old

“This is none of your business.”

Whereas the French speaker would instead use a different image in

“C’est pas tes oignons” meaning “These are not your onions.”

It gets better when we learn that the German speaker would use yet another expression:

“Das is nicht dein Bier” which means “This is not your beer.”

Finally, Italians – luckily – do go for the “business” option in formal situations, but the reality is that colloquially we would say

“Non sono cazzi tuoi” meaning, ehm “These are not your dicks.”

I swear. They might use “affari” (business) or “cavoli” (cabbages) instead of “cazzi”, but it will take an active effort on their part, as the colloquialism is – as it often happens – simply a bit more vulgar in Italian.

So, looking at these four expressions, it has always struck me as ironic that four stereotypes – the business-like Englishman, the beer-drinking German, the onion-eating French and the sex-obsessed Italian – are reinforced here not by hateful or racist outsiders, but instead by the very community which falls victim to the stereotype in question.

Do you know of other interesting ways to express this concept in other languages that you speak? I’m looking forward to finding out in your comments.

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