Don’t you just love when you and your fellow language-geek friends face a linguistic challenge? ‘In [insert language]you say [insert language-specific idiom]’. ‘… But how do you say it in [insert language]? …What, there’s no equivalent?’
And you’re on. You and your friends on a mystifying journey to analyse it. Where does it come from? What would it be literally? And above all, what does it mean? After appreciating what you have just learnt, you realise: ‘Ha, it sounds funny in [insert language]! But it doesn’t make any sense at all!’
It works across most languages. For example, in English, ‘it’s raining cats and dogs!’ in German is: ‘Es regnet Hunde und Katzen’ (which might conjure up a few suspicious looks if you’re OK at best). And language geeks, ‘hand on heart’ (this translates fully into German, a miracle these direct idiom translations if you ask me, like a rare treasure discovered!) is: ‘Hand aufs Herz’. Either way, isn’t that what we’re looking for? Isn’t it what we truly love? Or is it just me? Never mind, let’s get back to my word of the week!
Well actually, it’s more of a phrase. My friend and I were going to the gym the other day and he asked me: ‘Shall we take the car or walk?’ (Yes, it’s a bit of a fail but I have walking difficulties). In response to this, my German brain thought: ‘Ich muss meinen inneren Schweinehund bekämpfen,’ and so we walked.
Hang on…what?? Literally, I meant: I need to fight my inner pig-dog. What?? Fight my inner devil? …ohhh!
Actually, it means to ‘fight your weaker self.’ So, take a situation where you have to force yourself to do something and in order to do it, you have to overcome your inner pig-dog, or in other words, laziness. I overcame my inner pig-dog when I chose to walk instead of taking the car.
I know what you’re thinking… it happens a lot, it’s okay. Or not, you decide! (Why am I writing this instead of revising? And you, you probably shouldn’t even be reading this!) So my inner pig-dog has beaten me today. For shame!
As to where that pig-dog comes from and what it looks like, it’s set to remain a mystery. But there it is. That brief little inter-languages exchange we live for…*sigh*