Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Idioms: Climbing in the box

When Eric drove us to the airport we heard about a new book on the radio. The book was bout idioms. Someone had tracked down idioms from other countries and translated them into English, mostly relying on dictonaries.

In the story, they mentioned a German idiom: Wie eine Made im Speck leben
Literally translated it means "to live like a maggot in bacon." This expression is used if you want to indicate that someone has it made. It's an okay translation. However, when I think about bacon I think about those packages of thin bacon strips and that doesn't seem to be the best place to "have it made" if I were a maggot. So I would probably use "to live like a maggot in ham" or "to live like a maggot in lard."

Today my mom used another German idiom, which I hadn't heard in ages. It made me laugh because I was thinking about translating it into English.
In German it is: Mit jemandem in die Kiste steigen
Translated this means "to climb into the box with someone," which means "to have sex with someone." I won't elaborate on the context in which this idiom came up, unless you insist.
It might be an idiom used in southern Germany. That's where my parents are from originally. I assume that it is left over from the days when beds resembled boxes. However, just imagine yourself asking a friend: "Hey, are you still climbing into the box with this guy you met at the nightclub last month?"

Which reminds me of zippers. Now this is not an idiom and some of you guys may have heard of the Zipper Principle-- das Reissverschluss Prinzip or Reissverschlussverfahren. This is a traffic rule. If you are driving on a two lane road and there's construction up ahead, forcing people to merge to one lane, you would employ the Zipper Principle. This means the drivers on the lane with NO construction would slow down, so that each one of them could make enough space to allow for one car from the lane WITH construction to merge. Like a zipper. This way, traffic slows down, but it won't come to a complete halt. Germans obey the Zipper Principle. However, driving homw from the airport I saw a strange sign that read "Reissverschluss in 200 Metern," which essentially means "zipper in 200 yards."

That's all for now on German idioms. Maybe we'll explore "horses who vomit in front of the pharmacy" in German Idioms Gone International Part II.


  1. And now I'm desperately thinking how I can work these idioms into everyday conversation!

  2. I totally get this. There are countless Persian idiums that literally translated are hilarious. Like (You can't ride a camel bending bending), refering to the fact that if you ride a camel you WILL be notices and trying to bend down will not hide you. Or putting wartermelons under someone's arm which is the equivilant of blowing smoke up someone's a**. I could go on but these are the ones that come to mind readily. Thanks for that I needed a laugh.

  3. I'd still like to hear the idiom about vomiting horses!