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sandmanWednesday 12th of January 2005 03:11:55 PM
idioms, set phrases and colloquial metaphors - idioms, set phrases and colloquial metaphors

i don't mean those lengthy proverbs, like what your grandmother knows a lot and you hear them only from her %) but those used in everyday language by almost all. those that come from the literature, movies, songs, well-known anecdotes, folclore or of an unknown origin.

for example, in russian, when someone asks you to do what you're not going to, you say, "aha, i run and fall". when someone demands of you too much, you say "maybe you want also the keys for a flat, where money lies ?". when someone tries to read a book he doesn't understand at all, you may say "he looks in the book and sees a fig". "fig with butter", "bald devil" in the meaning "nothing". "eyes crawl upon the forehead" when you're amazed. "business-like sausage" about a person that acts too self-confident. "to smoke bamboo" - to have easy job/task. "horse-radish from a mountain" - about a person you don't know or recently meet and who acts in the way you don't like.
other situations that come to mind - when you very hungry, when you're not feeling like working, someone fusses too much over smth, about an obtrusive person, when you tired answering silly questions...

i ask native speakers, please, write here the set phrases you use and in which situations (with origin if possible).
links (not to %) would be appreciated too.
sandmanFriday 14th of January 2005 12:44:14 AM
- so sad noone answers... %((((
maybe it is because i asked only native speakers to answer ? i did mean everybody indeed, so everyone is welcome %)
well, i try to somewhat stir this topic up...

i know in romanian there is a saying - 'a fugi māncānd pămāntul' meaning to rush into some activity, or just hurry

and i know one more - 'a cincea roata la căruţă'. which is used when something is absolutely unnecessary. e.g. 'īmi trebuie aceasta ca a cincea roata la căruţă'. i wonder if other metaphors can be used in this meaning, as in russian 'the fifth leg to a dog', 'un umbrella to a fish(pike or little pike)', 'a saddle to a cow'. btw 'the fifth wheel to a waggon' used in russian too.

please correct me if i was wrong

Anca+Friday 14th of January 2005 02:57:17 PM
expressions - salut!
the expression " a fugi mancand pamantul" is used when someone is scared about something (eg: if a little kid sees a scary old man that want to talk to him, the kid " a fugit mancand pamantul" away from than man), or if someone has a difficult/unpleasant task he/she doesn't want to do (eg.
"i-am spus sa-si faca curat in camera, dar el a fugit mancand pamantul" = i told him to clean his room, but he "a fusit mancand pamantul")
hope this clears things for you...
Anca+Friday 14th of January 2005 03:06:08 PM
- - we have other idioms etc, like:
-"(a visa) cai verzi pe pereti", when you have an impossible dream/wish
-"a vedea stele verzi", when someone hits you so bad that you lose your conscience
-"a inflori", when someone lies, on purpose or to make the truth more beautiful...
can't think of any others right now...
sandmanFriday 14th of January 2005 04:11:16 PM
- great!!! thanks a lot Anca+ !

i was not quite sure about the 'a fugi māncānd pămāntul', so i'm very glad you explained it. e.g. in general this saying means 'to get away as fast as you can' ?

sorry, but i cannot translate fully the 'a visa cai verzi pe pereţi' - to dream about something green on a wall ? what is 'cai' ? in russian we say in such situations 'dreaming is not harmful' %)

'green stars' is fun %) in russian we say 'things went dark before someone's eyes'

'a īnflori' means 'embellish', right ? is 'īnfrumuseţa' used equally ?

i really appreciate your answers, and i hope this topic will go on, since it is a very interesting one (for me at least %) since it helps to speak in a more vivid language
rbrumaFriday 14th of January 2005 05:19:59 PM
- 1. 'a fugi māncānd pămāntul' (litt. 'to run eating the ground')= to run away as fast as you can

2. 'a visa cai verzi pe pereţi' (litt. 'to dream (about) green horses on (the) walls') = to dream wish smth. impossible

3. 'a vedea stele verzi' (litt. 'to see green stars') = to lose conscience or almost (as a result of a hit / accident)

4. 'a rămāne cu gura căscată' (litt. 'to remain with the mouth wide open') = to be very amazed (when hearing news, etc)

5. 'chinezeşte' (litt. 'in chinese') - when you see something you don't understand (like a highly technical book), cf. fr. 'c'est du chinois'

6. 'a avea o foame de lup' (litt. 'to have (the) hunger of a wolf') = to be very hungry

7. 'a cădea din lac īn puţ' (litt. 'to fall from the lake into the pit') = to change a bad situation for a even worse one

If I think of others, I will put them here. It's indeed interesting. Please put the russian version too, not only the translation.

'A īnflori' means 'to blossom' (as for flowers = 'flori'). To embellish is indeed 'a īnfrumuseţa'. (from 'frumuseţe' = beauty).
sandmanSaturday 15th of January 2005 06:05:56 PM
- thanks, Răzvan, for such clear comments

and for your request to put the russian versions, because i've started to think i kinda overdo it with the references to russian %) anyways, examples can more likely provoke some ideas than abstract questions can, imho, so here it goes (i tried my best to transcribe the pronunciation with romanian alphabet, and it is fairly close (apostrophe is placed before the stressed syllables)):

1. when someone asks too much of you, or asks for something you don't want to do you can answer:
ага, бегу и падаю ("aga, be'gu i 'padaiu" - lit. aha, i run and fall)
разевай рот шире ("raze'vai rot 'şire" - lit. open your mouth wider)
может тебе еще и луну жареную ? ("'mojet te'be e'şceo i lu'nu 'jarenuiu ?" - lit. maybe else a fried moon for you ?)
мечтать не вредно ("meci_'tati ne 'vredno" - lit. dreaming is not harmful) (meci_tati - is one word, syllables separated only to show that 'c' is pronounced like english 'ch' in 'chest') (can be said also about an impossible dream)
и ключи от квартиры, где деньги лежат ? ("i kliu'cii ot kvar'tirī, gde 'deni_ghii le'jat ?" - lit. 'and the keys for a flat, where money lies ?') (sometimes only first two or four words are spoken) (all 'ii' sound as single 'i')
щазззз ! - ("şceazzzz !" - distorted 'now' (сейчас - seiceas))
вот еще ! - ("vot e'şceo !" - lit. what more !)

2. when you read a book, and don't understand anything (because it's very complex, or on purpose - for example it can be said about a child, that doesn't want to do his homework):
смотришь в книгу, видишь фигу ("'smotriş v 'knigu, 'vidiş 'figu" - lit. you look in a book, see a fig)
на китайском ("na ki'taiskom" - lit. in chinese) - used only if the matters are complex
or китайская грамота ("ki'taiskaia 'gramota" - lit. chinese writing)

3. when someone is very amazed:
глаза на лоб полезли ("gla'za na lob po'lezlii" - lit. eyes crawl upon the head) (ii sounds as single i)
челюсть отвалилась ("'celiusti otva'lilasi" - lit. the jaw fell off)
дар речи потерял ("dar 'recii pote'real" - lit. lost the gift of speech) (ii sounds as single i)

4. when someone acts too self-confident, or a child acts in a way he's not supposed in his age:
деловая колбаса ("delo'vaia kalba'sa" - lit. a business-like sausage)

5. when you have simple job/task, or just don't work (e.g. just killing the time):
курить бамбук ("ku'riti bam'buk" - lit. to smoke bamboo)
балду пинать ("bal'du pi'nati" - lit. to kick a heavy-hammer)
фигней страдать ("fig'neoi stra'dati" - lit. to suffer from fignya (the fignya is formed from 'fig' and means rubbish, nonsense or stupid actions)) - used also when someone acts purposeless or stupid

6. about a person you don't know or recently meet and who acts in a way you don't like:
хрен с горы ("hren s go'rī" - lit. horse-radish from a mountain)

7. when you are very hungry:
голоден как волк ("'goloden kak volk" - lit. hungry as a wolf)
кишка кишке бьет по башке ("kiş'ka kiş'ke bi_eot po baş'ke" - lit. a gut hits a gut in its head) - when someone has borborygmus

8. someone fusses too much over smth:
носится, как дурень с писаной торбой ("'nositsea, kak 'dureni s 'pisanoi tor'boi" - lit. rushes, like a fool with a painted bag)

9. about an obtrusive person:
прилип, как банный лист ("pri'lip, kak 'bannīi list" - lit. stuck, as a bath leaf (a leaf from the russian bath besom))
присосался, как пиявка ("priso'salsea, kak pi'iavka" - lit. adhered by suction like a leech)

10. when something is completely unneccessary:
как собаке пятая нога ("kak sa'bake 'peataia na'ga" - lit. like the fifth leg to a dog)
как рыбе(щуке/рыбке/щучке ) зонтик ("kak 'rībe('şciuke'rībke'şciuci_ke) 'zontik" - lit. like un umbrella to a fish(pike/little fish/little pike))
как корове седло ("kak ka'rove sed'lo" - lit. like a saddle to a cow)
как телеге пятое колесо ("kak te'leghe 'peatoie kale'so" - lit. like the fifth wheel to a waggon)
some people mixes last two and say как корове пятое седло ("kak ka'rove 'peatoie sed'lo" - lit. like the fifth saddle to a cow)

11. when things went from bad to worse:
из огня да в полымя ("iz og'nea da v polī'mea" - lit. from fire to flames)

12. to run away like hell:
бежать со всех ног ("be'jati so vseh nog" - lit. to run with all the legs)

13. to abruptly start running away:
ноги в руки и бежать ("'nogii v 'rukii i be'jati" - lit. legs into hands and run) (all 'ii' sound like single 'i')

14. to almost lose conscience, from a hit or words or really bad news:
потемнело в глазах ("patem'nelo v gla'zah" - lit. it went dark in the eyes)

15. when you don't care about something/don't need it:
я плевал на это с высокой колокольни ("ea ple'val na 'ăta s vī'sokai kala'koli_nii" - lit. i was spitting on it from a high bell tower) (all 'ii' sound like single 'i')
я в гробу это видал ("ea v gra'bu 'ăta vi'dal" - lit. i've seen it in a coffin)

16. when you don't care about someone:
в гробу я тебя видал (в белых тапочках ) ("v gra'bu ea ti'bea vi'dal (v 'belīh 'tapaci_kah)" - lit. i've seen you in a coffin (with white slippers on))

17. when someone's gone mad (from happiness/booze etc):
башню снесло ("'başniu snes'lo" - the tower's been blown off (tower means the head))

18. when you want to say, that different kinds of something are good to try, but some other thing is better for all time (or customary):
лучшая рыба - это колбаса ("'luci_şaia 'rība - 'ăta kalba'sa" - lit. sausage is the best fish)

19. when you want some collective action to continue:
требую продолжения банкета ("'trebuiu pradal'jeniia ban'keta" - lit. i demand the continuation of the banquet)

20. when someone is completely unreasonable:
ты что, белены объелся ? ("tī şto, bele'nī abi_'elsea ?" - lit. have you overeaten henbane ? (henbane is a kind of poisonous grass))

21. to be in a deep sleep:
спать без задних ног ("spati bez 'zadnih nog" - lit. to sleep without the rear legs)

22. to try to stay awake but cannot help the sleepiness:
клевать носом ("kle'vati 'nosom" - lit. to peck with the nose)

23. when something's been made bad (done badly):
хромает на обе ноги ("hra'maet na 'obe na'gii" - lit. it limps with both legs) ('ii' sounds as 'i')

24. when something wont do:
как мертвому припарки ("kak 'miortvamu pri'parkii" - lit. like embrocations to a dead body) ('ii' sounds as 'i')

25. to constate some facts (usually after telling the news):
вот такие пироги (с котятами ) ("vot ta'kie pira'gii (s ka'teatamii)" - lit. here are cakes of this kind (with kittens))

26. when something's been done perfectly (made perfect):
комар носа не подточит ("ka'mar 'nosa ne pad'tocit" - lit. a mosquito cannot sharpen its nose)

27. about a person, who is an expert in something:
он съел собаку на этом ('on s_el sa'baku na 'ătam" - lit. he ate a dog on it)

28. when it's hard to make a concrete evaluation of something (neither positive, nor negative; neither good nor bad)
ни рыба ни мясо ("ni 'rība ni 'measa" - lit. neither fish nor meat)

29. when you don't want something to go bad:
тьфу, тьфу, тьфу ("ti_fu, ti_fu, ti_fu" - lit. faugh, faugh, faugh - spit three times to avoid putting an evil eye on it)

i'd love to see equivalents for this in romanian. or anything %)

i'm very glad to see this topic spinning up %) but i think i should spit three times %)
sandmanSaturday 15th of January 2005 06:08:22 PM
- pretty long, isn't it ? %) and it's hardly a tenth of what came to my mind %)

i guess i should move this to the russian discuss and leave only the link here
but what to do with the romanian transcriptions then ?

please, tell me, what you think
rbrumaMonday 17th of January 2005 03:43:27 PM
- Thanks, sandman, this was pretty instructive.

I wanted the Russian versions (and gave myself the Romanian versions) since I believe that whenever you give examples from a language you should write in that language, with the appropriate characters, give phonetic transcriptions (when absolutely necessary) and then provide Phrases. Only then can someone evaluate the example as a whole. Giving merely translation means giving only part of what you can give.

I am sure this article would be as instructive for the Russian discuss as well. The best way -- I think -- would be to reproduce it there, with english transcriptions or w/o any transcription at all (it is assumed that the people there learned at least the reading rules).

Or maybe to repost it in 'All languages' or smth like this.

Thanks again & Regards,


sandmanMonday 17th of January 2005 07:14:56 PM
- i was not trying to give short of what i really can %) i'was just thinking so much information on russian is not suitable for the romanian discuss. and tried to be laconic %)

actually, i was thinking that reproducing the message would be the best idea, i was only doubting it considering the same things as above. thanks, for your letting it to stay %)

besides of those cross discusss issues, i'd really love to see more examples in romanian... (i always want more %))
rbrumaThursday 20th of January 2005 10:53:38 PM
- Some more:

8. 'a se crăpa de ziuă' (approx. litt. 'to break the day') = to dawn

9. 'a fi furat de somn' (litt. 'to be stolen by sleep') = a fall asleep

10. ' a arunca o privire' (litt. 'to throw a look') = to take a quick look (at smth.)

11. 'a fi furat de peisaj' (litt. 'to be stolen by the scenery') = to be very absorbed by what's heppening neraby

12. 'a fi sărac lipit (pămāntului)' (litt. approx. 'to be poor (as) glued (to the ground)) = to be very poor

13. 'a fi putred de bogat' (litt. approx. 'to be rotten rich') = to be very rich

14. ' a nu fi īn apele tale' (litt. 'not to be in your waters') = to not feel very well

15. 'a face (ceva) cum te taie capul' (litt. approx. to do (smth.) the way your head "cuts" you) = to do smth. after your own decision, your way, without listening for advices, etc.

16. 'a dormi buştean' (litt. to sleep (like a) log) = to sleep profoundly

17. 'a dormi tun' (litt. 'to sleep (like a) cannon', actually to sleep so profoundly that not even a cannot can wake you up) -- same meaning as above.

If I think of others, I will add them here.

sandmanFriday 21st of January 2005 01:26:51 PM
- thats great, thanks
i'd like to put some comments, so here they are

8. is it used in impersonal form, i.e. like 'trebuie' or in english 'it breaks(cracks ?) itself with the day' ?

10. in russian we say exactly like that

9., 11. in russian we use in different sayings 'поглощен' ('absorbed') or 'захвачен' ('grasped')

12. in russian - 'быть бедным как церковная мышь' (to be poor as a church mouse)

14. is there a nautical or a medical meaning implied ? %) in russian there is something alike, but used kinda differently 'чувствовать себя не в своей тарелке' (to feel oneself in not his own plate' - e.g. 'i feel myself in not my own plate' (plate is 'farfurie' here)) - used when feeling not confortable, being in a bad mood etc.

15. although not exactly like that, but close:
to give up thinking/listening others and begin some action - 'броситься, очертя голову' (lit. to rush, having drawn a line around the head)
to do random(unreasonable for others) things:
'делать, что левая нога подскажет' (lit. to do what the left leg suggests')
'делать, что в голову взбредет / ударит' (lit. to do what strikes/clumber in the head)

16. to be deadly drunk/unconscious - 'лежать бревном' (lit. to lay (like a) log)

17. 'из пушки не разбудишь' (lit. 'cannot wake (smb) up from a cannon')
rbrumaFriday 21st of January 2005 03:37:14 PM
- 8. Impersonal. 'Se crapă de ziuă' = 'It dawns'

14. I don't know the implied meaning. However, if someone is feeling very comfortable with smth. one might say 'e ca peştele īn apă' (it's like a fish in water). So I guess the fish got in the wrong waters, but I cannot be certain.

sandmanFriday 11th of February 2005 07:02:34 PM
- i got some more:

a īşi pierde capul - to lose one's head, "to be all adrift" ? or only "to become reckless or impetuous" ?

nu bate capul - don't be a fool

cānd va creşte par in palma - when pigs fly (meaning never) (in russian "когда рак на горе свистнет" - lit. when a cancer whistles on a mountain, or "после дождичка в четверг" - lit. on thursday, right after the rain)
sandmanWednesday 23rd of March 2005 09:09:34 PM
- please, correct me if i'm wrong with the Phrases:

Asta-i altă māncare de peşte = asta este cu totul altceva.
this is another fish dish = this is something completely different

A fi tot o māncare de peşte = a fi acelaşi lucru, a fi totuna.
to be a fish dish as well = to be identical with something, to be the same thing

in both idioms 'māncare de peşte' means "a dish made of fish", not "food eaten by fish', right ?

and i'm also not sure with how to use the second idiom. could someone post some examples, please ?

and one more thing:
'a pupa' besides of 'to kiss' means 'to succeed in obtaining something desired', right ? (got it from the dic %)
considering this, i have problems with understanding the example given in the dic - 'Nu mai pupi tu plimbare.' - 'you cannot (don't) persuade (kiss enough) me for a walk' ?
rbrumaWednesday 23rd of March 2005 10:22:16 PM
- "Asta-i altă māncare de peşte" means indeed 'this is something completely different'. 'A fi tot...', though seems logical, I never heard or used it. Therefore, I cannot give you any example.

'māncare de peşte' means "a dish made of fish", indeed (although it might mean 'food eaten by fish', I never thought of that)

'Nu mai pupi tu plimbare.' -- You're not getting any walk, that's for sure! (I won't be willing to help you with that or to let you go, or whatever I was supposed to do for you).

For example, if you don't like this post, you're being ungrateful şi nu mai pupi tu altul. :)

sandmanThursday 24th of March 2005 01:13:04 PM
- i am very grateful and i really like your post %)
even if i needed another one, i'd unlikely try to kiss you for it %) well, maybe if you were of opposite sex... %)
Jeremy87Tuesday 29th of March 2005 09:22:38 AM
- imi place posturile astia! multumesc pentru expresiile astia. sunt foarte utii. voi trebui sa memorez :)