- Posted by Stephen Whiteley
- On 04/05/2018
When checking out idioms that are most similar to English, translators and translation agencies will need to look at the origins of the words they intend to translate. Over time, many words and phrases from different languages have been assimilated into English. If you are asked to translate idioms that sound very English, then the following will give you an idea about which words, phrases and idioms you will be coming across.
Common words and phrases
Ab initio is a phrase that is drawn from Latin and which is similar to the English idiom, from the beginning. A deux is a phrase derived from French and it means for or involving two persons. Translators will also come across phrases like ad infinitum which is derived from Latin and which means endlessly or forever. Its literal meaning is to infinity.
When translating idioms, we also come across words and phrases like agent provocateur, which again is derived from French and involves a person who tries to tempt a suspected criminal to commit some illegal act so that they can be caught and convicted. The literal translation of this is provocative agent.
When looking at idioms that sound similar to English, be sure to take a look at the German idiom, Tomaten auf den Augen haben. This idiom is very similar to English and means you have tomatoes in your eyes. The meaning of this idiom is that a person is not seeing what everyone else can see.
Another German idiom that is similar to English is the one that goes like this: Die Katze im Sack kaufen. This idiom is similar to the English idiom, to buy a cat in a sack, which refers to someone who buys something without first inspecting it. Another idiom that is similar to English is buying a pig in poke which in English translates as to let the cat out of the bag. It means that you have revealed a secret.
Another idiom which comes to us from Sweden and which is similar to English is De tar ingen ko pa isen. This idiom is very similar to There’s no cow on the ice. The meaning of this idiom is simple: do not worry because there is nothing to be worried about and there is no danger about.
In the Thai language, there is an idiom that is similar to English. It goes like this: take ears to the field, take eyes to the farm. The meaning of this idiom is you don’t need to pay any attention. The literal translation from Thai is do not bring your eyes and ears with you.
There is also a French idiom that is similar to English. This one goes like this: Avaler des couleuvres. The English equivalent is to swallow grass snakes and its meaning is clear; you are feeling so insulted that you will not be able to reply.
As you can see, these idioms are very similar to English and are widely used.