Thursday, July 9, 2009

Idioms: The sick horse

Just talked to Eric and he bought the "Idiom Book" they featured on NPR as we were driving to the airport. Now, there is one caveat. Most of the people they asked to read the idioms from their home country didn't know those idioms. As I said, the author relied on books and dictionaries. So there might be some disappointment.

Now to German Idioms Gone International Part II.

I had to laugh when the characters on a children's television show tried to get to the root of yet another one of those fantastic German sayings:
Ach Du gruene Neune!

This translates into, "oh you green nine." However, it works better if green has two syllables, which is why I would translate it with "oh you greenish nine." The exlamation mark is somewhat crucial as this is an expression of suprise mostly with a negative conotation. For example, you may have forgotton to turn off the stove when you left the house in the morning. Now you're in the office and you remember that there's rice cooking unsupervised in your kitchen and you cry out, "oh you greenish nine!" as you hurry home to prevent the house from burning down.

The horses. This is an unusual one. I just learned today that horse can't throw up, which has to do with how their stomach is "wired." Anyway, the idiom does have horses throwing up and it goes:
Ich hab' schon Pferde vor der Apotheke kotzen sehen (mit dem Rezept im Maul)
I'm only familiar with the first part, which translates to "I have seen horses vomit in front of the pharmacy." The second part is, "holding the prescrition in its mouth.
Now, we know that horses can't do that, and if they could, why would they do it in front of the pharmacy, holding the prescription in their mouth. I think this is the German equivalant to the American "flying pigs" idiom, which I can't remember.

Let's say your friend tells you that Michael Jackson called her yesterday to invite her for dinner, you would say, "sure, and I have seen horses vomit in front of the pharmacy." This would let her know that you think she's full of it. This can also be used if your friend, who is a recreational runer, won the Boston Marathon. Your comment to his success could be, "I have seen horses vomit in front of the pharmacy," which then means, anything is possible.

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