Monday, April 25, 2005

turning a new phrase

Once you get to know the fundamentals of a new language, the challenge (as far as I can see) is to make it come alive, by incorporating local phrases and colloquialisms. This is not as easy as it sounds. You would think you could just translate phrases you used to use, but they just don't make sense in your new language. I'm probably not doing my husband any favors by tossing around a few southern phrases, but he's certain to impress my southern family.

The reason I bring this up is that Steph's English has improved so much that I don't always watch what I say anymore. "I'm gonna" and "y'all" are slipping back into my vocabulary, and I had him absolutely stumped when I told him last week that I was going to "run down to the corner store." Other personal favorites (southern and otherwise) include:

"I'm so happy I could be twins."
"I was born on a Wednesday, but not LAST Wednesday."
"It's colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra."
"It's hotter than a whore in church."
...And the ever popular "Well, bless your heart."

For various reasons, I wouldn't dare attempt to translate these into French and introduce them in polite society.

Slowly but surely, I am adding new French phrases to my growing vocabulary. Some are exactly the same, and others are so whimsical to me that when I learn them, I laugh out loud. My current favorite is "Elle est aimable comme une porte de prison," or, "She's as nice as a prison door." Funny, huh? Steph swears his father says this all the time.

So my question for my fellow ex-pats/students of new languages is: What new phrases have you learned that made you smile when you learned it? Which ones do you actually use now? And finally, which phrases do you miss that can't (or shouldn't) be translated in your new language?

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