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Bringing hundreds of nations together, no doubt we’ll hear some interesting phrases with translations that baffle everyone but the native speakers. Here are a few to whet your linguistic appetite:
Rather than crossing their fingers to wish each other good luck (which is what this phrase effectively means) Germans say: ‘I press my thumbs for you’. This might accompany a gesture where the hands are balled into fists and the thumbs pressed down.
This lovely phrase translates literally as ‘to fluff and dust’, and describes the act of wiping away the competition; to beat them no problem.
Some events really require the participants to give every last ounce of effort and this phrase, which translates as ‘fights all the way into the tile’, roughly means to fight until the last drop.
Translating literally as ‘the carrots are cooked’, this phrase means that something is over, it’s finished, there’s no chances of recovering, the fat lady has sung, etc. Essentially, it’s too late to change things and in the context of the Olympics, the athlete’s chances of a medal are gone.
This strange one, which in English says: ‘to pour on the first number’, is better interpreted as ‘to give someone a good thrashing’, i.e. to beat them.
So many Olympic events call for panels of judges to make decisions on times, scores, ins and outs. This idiom from Spain means ‘the ball is still on the roof’ but we’d interpret it as ‘the jury’s still out’.
There’s little doubt that the colourful language of the Olympics adds so much to the event. Have you got any to add to the list? What are your favourite foreign language sporting idioms? We’d love to hear yours.