The Digital Shutterbug (aryx) wrote,
The Digital Shutterbug

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When you learn a foreign language, you always run across weird phrases that, when translated word for word, don't actually mean anything. It seems to be just a bunch of gibberish. But when the meaning of that gibberish is translated into something you can understand, you just think to yourself, okay, this bunch of random words means this...
But we never seem to think that when someone else is learning our native language, that they might be doing the same thing.
If you really think about it... how many sayings and phrases do we have that are really just a bunch of words that don't really go together?
Give up?
There's one right there for you.
A verb and a preposition.
How does one actually give an up?
And if someone can give an up, can you get an up in return?
You can get down, it seems, but you can't give one.
If something is out of order, is there a place where you can order more order?
And it appears that once it's working, you can't say that it's in of order.
There are times that you don't understand something unless you know some history. For example, there's a brand name of shoe called Hush Puppies.
Back in the early 20th Century, people called their feet dogs. Shoe names came about that would help someone keep a healthier foot. A healthy foot was a quiet foot. Hush puppies.
I still don't understand the phrase head over heels. When we're walking, aren't our heads already over our heels? I guess when we fall head over heels, we're still standing upright. We're not really falling at all.
Other terms make sense if you know all the alternative meanings of words. For example, fast not only means rapid, but it also means to be completely still. If something stands fast, it means that it is motionless. To fall fast asleep doesn't mean that you fall asleep quickly. And why does one fall asleep anyway, can't they just climb down or something? Apparently, although unconfirmed, when your brain shuts down for the night, you get the sensation that you are falling. Sometimes you feel this and it jars you back awake, because you felt like you were falling out of bed, knowing full well you haven't moved an inch toward that edge.
And why does it jar you awake anyway, instead of canning you, or bottling you awake?
If you get the sacked from your job, you've been fired. This started with construction crews who used to carry their tools in a sack. I don't know how it came about, but apparently when the boss didn't want you on the job site anymore, he gave you back your sack. I'm not quite sure how he got it in the first place. The getting fired sounds a little more cruel, so I'm not certain to the truth of this story, but it has been said that employers would burn your house down when they wanted you to leave, and thus you were fired. I'm guessing it wasn't the house that they burned... maybe something else that you needed to do whatever it was that you did.
So, if you start learning a new language, and find that there are quite a few phrases that you just don't quite understand, whether they are gibberish, or because you don't know the history of how those phrases came about, don't give up.

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