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October 31st, 2013, 13:56
Originally Posted by griniaris View Post
"Figures of speech like "first, let's talk about the elephant in the room" are something I haven't heard before"
It's because your intellectual level is rather not very high.
Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
Colloquialisms have nothing to do with intelligence. They have a lot to do with culture though. And they rarely translate well between languages AND cultures.
Yes. It just doesn't exist in the German language.

We do have the elephant in the porcelain shop, though.

Originally Posted by Dajjer View Post
Not me. . . . I was referring to the prior poster, who had never heard the term before. Even if the term doesn't come up in day to day conversation, it's used in American television/media all the time. And Many American TV shows and books have a world wide audience. Thus, it was frankly shocking that a term I had considered universal apparently was not. Interesting to learn.
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
For us non-native americans there are a lot of these things that don't make much sense but are part of American culture. Phrases like "it's raining cats and dogs", "easy as pie", "piece of cake", "a bigger bang for your buck", "Full Monty", "go bananas", "high time" and many more like that, some are easily discernible, some can be understood because of context, but some others I still scratch my head when I hear them. And let's not even go to the 'slang', that almost seems to me like someone is putting random words together to see if something sticks.
It's exactly like this. Things widely known in the English language might still be unknown elsewhere. And I believe that the wide spreading is just a bit exaggerated, imho. People might utilize the English language but still not realize what figures of speech mean unless they have learned them at school or elsewhere, or looked them up in Wikipedia or so.

Using a tool doesn't necessarily imply that you know how it is used in other parts of the world. In the famous Alexander Koenig Museum in Bonn, the former capital of Germany, there is a display of several metal beer cans, lined up so that a dead chicken can be roasted over them. It's acting like some low-level barbecue thing. The display says that this comes from a place in Africa (don't remember its name anymore).

And, besides of all that - idioms are among translators worst nightmares. Extremely difficult to translate when there is no equivalent in the translator's language.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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