Wednesday, August 10, 2005
On Language 8/10: Translate Me, Untranslatable You
French has the handy phrase “espirit de l’escalier,” which literally means “the wit of the staircase,” but is taken to mean a clever retort that occurs to you too late, after you have left the room (and gone down the stairs, presumably). The French also have a memorable expression for the disheartening monotony of life: “metro-boulot-dodo,” which literally means “subway-work-sleep.” ...
The South Asian language of Urdu has the proverb “oont kis karwat baithta hai,” or “let’s see which way the camel sits.” It means, “wait and see,” since in a sandstorm, the wind direction can be determined by seeing which way the camel turns to shield its face.