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Four Greek Phrases that Sound Funny in English

Idioms and other phrases or figures of speech can teach us a lot about the way certain cultures view the world as they have a unique way of conveying cultural beliefs, standards, and ideas. They can provide a window into the way speakers of a certain language think, and sometimes, when translated, they can certainly be entertaining!


Although Greek is not my native language, growing up hearing some of these phrases made sense to me because I understood what they meant. It was only when I tried to actually translate some of these phrases into English that I realize how funny some of the translations sound. Here are four Greek phrases that sound a bit funny in English:


  1. Σιγά το πράγμα


Literal Translation: "Slow the thing"


Practical Use: This essentially means "who cares?" or "it's not a big deal/no biggie"


Example Usage: Είχε λοιπόν δύο φέτες κέικ πριν φάει το δείπνο του. Σιγά το πράγμα! (So he had two slices of cake before dinner. Who cares?)



2. Δεν μπορείς να έχεις και την πίτα ολόκληρη και το σκύλο χορτάτο.




Literal Translation: "You cannot have the whole pita and the dog full."


Practical Use: You can't have your cake and eat it too. You can't have it both ways. You can't have two things that are impossible to have at the same time.


Example Usage: Δεν γίνεται να έχουμε και την πίτα ολόκληρη και τον σκύλο χορτάτο. It's not possible to have both the whole pita and the dog full at the same time.


3. Θα φάς ξύλο!


Literal Translation: You'll eat wood!


Practical Use: You're going to get hit (or slapped)!, I am going to hit you!


Example Usage: Most commonly used as a threat brandished by Greek parents and grandparents, this phrase indicates to a child that if he or she does not heed the words of the guardian, then he or she will be in trouble. Although it sounds violent, it's used as a threat and I've never seen anyone incite any violence after using this phrase. Αν γυρίσεις σπίτι έστω και ένα λεπτό μετά τις 22:00, θα φας ξύλο! (If you return home even just one moment after 10 PM, you're getting a beating!)

4. Να μυρίσω τα δάχτυλά μου;



Literal Translation: Should I smell my fingers?


Practical Use: "How am I supposed to know?" (used sarcastically)


Example Usage: Δεν έχω ιδέα που είναι η Μαρία, τι θες να κάνω, να μυρίσω τα δάχτυλά μου; I have no idea where Maria is, what do you want me to do, to smell my fingers?


I'll probably end up writing another one of these lists because they're hilarious and so relatable! For now, I hope you enjoyed learning about these phrases. Are any of them familiar to you? Did you learn anything?

2 comentários


Convidado:
21 de set. de 2023

Loved this one !

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Convidado:
21 de set. de 2023

My favorite is siga to pramma lol

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