Striking a blow for idioms

A book on “novel”-sounding idioms in ten languages will save you the trouble of learning the languages yourself, according to Jag Bhalla, the author of I’m not Hanging Noodles on your Ears and other Intriguing Idioms from around the World, a collection of 1,200 idioms from National Geographic Books, illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist Julia Suits. 

A guest column on the book by the author mentions a few examples, such as to live like a maggot in bacon (to live in luxury: German) and to strike the 400 blows (to sow wild oats: French). The last one may not be so “novel” to fans of French cinema, who will undoubtedly recall a French New Wave flick by the same name (Les quatre cents coups). Apparently, there are two bands that have discovered this delightful idiom as well.

The column also discusses the use of idiom in language (which seems nearly unavoidable, at least for the native speaker) so check it out if you’re interested in anything beyond literal one-to-one language.

Katie Botkin
Katie Botkin is a freelance writer. She has a master’s degree in English with an emphasis on linguistics and has taught English on three continents.


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