Idioms are a mystery and a delight! And until you know at least a couple of them, some of the nuances of a language and culture elude you.
Recently I learned an idiom from a Yezidi teenager, a Kurdish idiom that I love. The girl was standing outside, casually chewing gum. A teenage boy looked over at her and said to her “You shouldn’t be chewing gum.” To which she responded without hesitation “Who made you the spoon to stir the sugar in my tea?”
As a bystander I didn’t understand any of this. I did however understand the ensuing laughter and so right away asked about the interaction. My translator laughed and tried to explain and what came out was “Who made you the spoon to stir the sugar in my tea?”
Basically, who gave you the right to tell me what to do?
I love this!
It brings up the beauty of idioms, that way of saying things without really saying them. Around the same time that I heard this idiom a friend sent me an article called “Idioms of the World Infographic.” It is a fabulous, illustrated guide to ten phrases from around the world.
Here are three favorites of the ten.
1. To feed the donkey sponge cake
Translation: Alimentar um burro a pão-de-ló
Meaning: To give good treatment to someone who doesn’t need it
2. To let a frog out of your mouth
Translation: Päästää sammakko suusta
Meaning: To say the wrong thing
3. Not my circus, not my monkey!
Translation: Nie mój cyrk, nie moje malpy
Meaning: Not my problem
Take a look below at the rest of them and enjoy! Then add your favorite idiom to the comments for a chance to win a copy of Between Worlds!
See more at: http://www.hotelclub.com/blog/idioms-of-the-world-infographic/#sthash.Jj7PK2vD.dpuf
16 thoughts on “Who Made You the Spoon to Stir the Sugar in my Tea?”
Ha! I can remember sitting with my friend’s kids last year (they’re in 8th and 5th grade now) learning English idioms! Here’s one that I like in Chinese: 钻牛角。。。 literally it means to “drill horn’s” or “honing a bull’s horn” but it sort of means means “a wild good chase” or wasting time on a problem that doesn’t really matter!
My chilenare grandfather has a ton of funny idioms he uses with great seriousness. My favourite one would be “Tirenemos el gato”, roughly translated as “let’s throw the cat on the back” and meaning ” let’s split”
My favorite is “not my circus, not my monkey.” I will have to think about Chinese and Dutch idioms and let you know!
of the ones above, i love “the spoon to stir the sugar in my tea” one!
one of the most humorous ones i’ve learned in french is “avoir les dents longues” – or to have long teeth, which (i believe) essentially means to be ambitious…or, as we typically said in my part of the states, to be a ladder climber.
In some areas of Kenya (I have been told) that you can excuse yourself to go use the toilet by saying you “need to go tie up the goat”. I guess it’s more of a euphemism than an idiom, but it’s still funny.
Great post, Marilyn! Here’s one: “Gift from gift makes Heaven.” Or a gift that keeps on giving… Be generous and God will reward you with the joys of Heaven.
At first I couldn’t think of ANY idioms at all but then today I remembered…
‘being under the gun’ – as in under pressure to do something and…
‘being flat chat’ – as in very busy – that one is Australian. Makes me grin every time.
I just learned a new Russian idiom which I love: “‘когда рак на горе свистит’ – ‘when a crayfish whistles on top of the mountain’ which basically means never. I feel it would be most useful for those responsible for building the new Berlin airport. It had been due to open in 2012 but now – it will open when a crayfish whistles on top of a mountain :-)
It makes me think of a time when I used “bend over backwards” to an individual whose first language was not English. Of course, she took it literally and did not quite get the meaning.
I think i might use “who made you the spoon to stir sugar in my tea” sometime if I can only remember to :-) And a friend from Texas used to say often “hog on ice” but I cannot recall in what context now.
Love these! My favorite above – To have a wide face. Marilyn, you have a very wide face, and Cliff’s is even wider, I believe.
And here’s one of my favorites from Sindhi: Stretch your feet according to your quilt. meaning, Live within your income.
I absolutely LOVE idioms! I love language, usage, grammar and the delight of the hugeness of the English language. You struck a chord with me today, Marilyn. Blessings!
Idioms became one of our favorite parts of learning a new language. My husband’s personal favorite (in Turkish) was about slapping a meatball. It goes “So, you finally slapped the meatball!” or “Did you slap the meatball?” It means something like, “So, you finally got it.” You use it when you’re discussing something and the other person eventually gets it, kind of like the “light turning on” in English. My favorite is just a term of endearment. Calling someone the “corner of my liver” is super sweet, like saying “my dearest,” “my heart,” my love.”
Thanks for sharing this fun post!
(Translating from Urdu ;) “the one who owns the stick, owns the buffalo”
(jis kee latthi, ooss kee bhainss).
Meaning: might is right.
Living in Spain, they ask you where your other ‘media naranja’ is. That means your spouse or the ‘other half of the orange’. I also like when they think someone is conceited, their version of ‘he thinks he’s the center of the universe’ is ‘he thinks he’s the navel (bellly button) of the world’.
I have heard “not my circus, not my monkey” before, and can really relate to trying not to worry about things I don’t need to worry about. But mostly, I think I let a lot of frogs out of my mouth. Ha! Thanks for sharing, these were fun. And I did like the title idiom, who made you the spoon to stir the sugar in my tea. I will have to remember that one!