idioms as the transliteration of foreign words/phrases
Does anyone else teach idioms as the transliteration of
The large majority of English idioms (Type 1) result from
the direct transliteration of a foreign phrase into common
English words (such as cats, dogs, sacks, bags). The
foreign phrase is usually "plain text" (Type 1a) but is
sometimes a metaphor (Type 1b).
"Kick the bucket" is probably an example of Type 1b. Using
3 for the Hebrew letter aiyin at a time when the aiyin had a
velar G/K sound as in 3aZa = Gaza, Semitic 3aGaV B'3a:DeN
means "make (physical) love in Paradise". This euphemism for
dying transliterates as KicK BucKeT.
A minority of English idioms (Type 2) are the translation
(not transliteration) of a Type 1 idiom in a foreign language.
The foreign idiom may be a transliteration of (pun on) a
phrase in the same foreign language (Type 2a) or another
foreign language (Type 2b).
The most famous Type 2a example may be the idiom
"(escape by) the skin of my teeth". This is a translation
of the Hebrew in biblical Job 19:20 where (again giving
the aiyin a G/K-sound) Job says: B'3oR SHiNai, literally
"by the skin of my teeth". This is a pun on the Hebrew
word B'QoSHi, which means "barely, hardly, with difficulty".
An example of Type 2b is "count sheep !" to go to sleep.
Using @ for the Hebrew letter aleph, this is a translation
of the Hebrew pun S'PoR TZo@N (literally, count sheep !)
on the Latin phrase "sopor sond" (sleep soundly/deeply).
Compare English soporific, a substance that induces sleep.
For more examples, do a Google search on
< idioms Hebrew "izzy cohen" >
Israel "izzy" Cohen
Last edited by cohen.izzy; 19-Nov-2005 at 10:25.
Re: idioms as the transliteration of foreign words/phrases
Where's the evidence to support this claim? the fact that some are translations and others are pluricultural does not prove this claim.
Originally Posted by cohen.izzy
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