1. a group of words which, when used together, have a different meaning from the one suggested by the individual words, eg it was raining cats and dogs
2. linguistic usage that is grammatical and natural to native speakers
Every language comes with its own set of idioms, slangs, and sayings. Learning and understanding them can prove to be a difficult part of the language learning process. An idiom here is not going to translate word for word to an idiom from another country. So how does one effectively learn idioms? I guess that would be the tricky part.
Probably the most popular idiom in the Italian language is “in bocca al lupo” which if literally translated into English means “in the wolf’s mouth”. The English equivalent of this saying would probably be “break a leg”. However, if you were to translate “break a leg” and use it in the same context in Italy you would probably get some really strange looks.
Let’s take a look at some other Italian idioms I have managed to track down:
“A chi dai il dito si prende anche un braccio” – translated means, “To whom you give a finger will also take an arm”. This is similar to the English saying “Give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile.”
“Tocca ferro” – translated means “touch iron”. This follows the same idea as the English expression “knock on wood”.
“Se fossi nei tuoi panni” – translated means “If I was in your clothes”. In English, we would say “If I were in your shoes” which in Italian would be “se fossi nelle tue scarpe”. Very similar but would it be understood by Italians?
For those of you reading my blog from la bel paese, what sort of idiom, slang, or sayings have you encountered that were similar to or had an English equivalent? Leave a comment and maybe down the road I can add another blog entry of popular idioms for those learning Italian. 🙂