Afrikaanse Vergelykings – Afrikaans Simile – Your Comprehensive & Fun Guide

so moeg soos 'n hond

We often use similes without realizing, when we desire to emphasize the meaning of an idea or an image. But similes allow us insight into a different culture, as you can notice from these Afrikaans similes and their English translations.

Ons gebruik gereeld vergelykings, somtyds sonder dat ons dit besef, om ‘n idee of beeld te versterk. Vergelykings gee ons ook insig in ander kulture, soos jy kan opmerk van herdie Afrikaanse vergelykings en hulle (direkte) Engelse vertalings.

so arm soos ‘n kerkmuis = as poor as a church mouse

so arm soos 'n kerkmuis = as poor as a church mouse

This simile is probably deriving from an older one, as hungry as a church mouse – illustrating how the Catholic and the Orthodox priests were careful not to mess the smallest crumb of the sacramental bread.

Die vergelyking het heelwaarskynlik sy oorsprong van ‘n ouer een, “so honger soos ‘n kerkmuis”, wat illustreer hoe versigtig die Katolieke en Ortodokse priesters was om nie die kleinste krummel van die heilige nagmaalbrood te mors nie.

so bitter soos gal = as bitter as bile

so bleek soos ‘n laken = as pale as a sheet

In English we would rather say as pale as death, as pale as a ghost, as white as a sheet)

so blind soos ‘n mol = as blind as a mole
so blou soos die hemel / die berge = as blue as the sky / as blue as a mountain
so dapper soos ‘n leeu = as brave as a lion

so dood soos ‘n mossie = as dead as a sparrow

This simile might derive from as dead as a dodo (referring to the dodo being an extinct species), although I think that as dead as a door nail is more used.

so doof soos ‘n kwartel = as deaf as a quail

so doof soos 'n kwartel = as deaf as a quail

Quails are widespread in South Africa and very easy to catch. The expression is based on a misunderstanding between Dutch and German. In German “doof” means “dumb”. Because quails are easy to catch or be lured with simple tricks, the Germans called them “doof” and the word entered Dutch and then Afrikaans.
In English we would say as deaf as a post.

so dom soos ‘n esel = as stupid as a donkey
so donker soos die nag = as dark as the night
so dronk soos ‘n matroos = as drunk as a sailor
so droog soos kurk / strooi = as dry as cork / as dry as straw (as dry as a bone is used in English)
so dun soos ‘n plank = as thin as a plank (rather as thin as a rail in English)

so fris soos ‘n perd = as healthy as a horse

so fris soos 'n perd = as healthy as a horse

This is an interesting Afrikaans idiom as the English equivalent originates in the NE of the USA and is best used in summer. In English we would rather say as healthy / as fit as a butcher’s dog. This makes sense as a butcher’s dog would have a diet based on meat and other scraps, thus keeping him healthier than the stray dogs.

so geduldig soos Job = as patient as Job
so geel soos goud = as yellow as gold
geld soos bossies = money like weeds (has a lot of money)
so gereeld soos klokslag = as regular as clockwork
so giftig soos ‘n slang = as poisonous as a snake

so goed soos goud = as good as gold (completely genuine)

so goed  soos goud = as good as gold (completely genuine)

This simile most probably draws from the end of the 19th century when banknotes were first introduced in the USA. These were actually IOUs, written promises for a later payment, in gold and silver. Thus the expression, IOUs were “as genuine as gold”, as good as gold.

“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs. Cratchit…
“As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better.”

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843

so glad soos seep = as smooth as soap
so groen soos gras = as green as grass
so groot soos ‘n reus = as big as a giant
so hard soos klip = as hard as stone
so helder soos kristal = as clear as crystal
so honger soos ‘n wolf = as hungry as a wolf

so koel soos ‘n komkommer = as cool as cucumber

so koel  soos 'n komkommer = as cool as cucumber

As cool as a cucumber dates back to the beginning of the 18th century. Cool here does not refer to low temperature, but rather to someone unruffled. As cool as a cucumber was first recorded in 1732, in John Gay’s New Song on New Similes.

so koud soos ys = as cold as ice
so krom soos ‘n hoepel = as crooked as a hoop
so kwaai soos ‘n tierwyfie = as vicious as a tigress
so lelik soos die nag = as ugly as the night
so lig soos ‘n veer = as light as a feather
so lui soos ‘n donkie = as lazy as a donkey
so maer soos ‘n kraai = as thin / skinny as a crow
so mak soos ‘n lam = as tame as a lamb
so maklik soos pyp opsteek = as easy as lighting a pipe

so moeg soos ‘n hond = as tired as a dog

so moeg  soos 'n hond = as tired as a dog

As tired as a dog draws back to the 9th century, originating in the adjectival phrase dog-tired. It is said that Alfred the Great, King of Wessex and King of the Anglo-Saxons used to send his sons, Athelbrod and Edwin, out hunting accompanied by their dogs. Whichever son would catch more game would be seated at their father’s right hand side at the dinner table that evening. The hunt would leave both young princes as tired as a dog.

so nat soos ‘n kat = as wet as a cat
so nuuskierig soos ‘n aap = as curious as a monkey
so oud soos die berge = as old as the mountains
so plat soos ‘n pannekoek = as flat as a pancake
pronk soos ‘n pou = shows off like a peacock
so reg soos ‘n roer = as straight as a barrel (of a gun)
so rond soos ‘n koeël = as round as a bullet
so rooi soos bloed = as red as blood
so regop soos ‘n kers = as upright as a candle
rook soos ‘n skoorsteen = smokes like a chimney
so sag soos sy = as soft as silk
so seker soos twee maal twee vier is = as sure as knowing two times two is four
sing soos ‘n nagtegaal = sings like a nightingale
so skerp soos ‘n lemmetjie = as sharp as a razor blade
so skraal soos ‘n riet = as slim as a reed
so skurf soos ‘n padda = (skin) as scabby / dry as a toad

slaap soos ‘n klip = sleeps like a stone

slaap soos 'n klip = sleeps like a stone

The former version of sleep like a stone would be sleep like a log – metaphorically mentioned in English as early as the 17th century:

“foundering is when she will neither veere nor steare, the sea will so ouer rake her, except you free out the water, she will lie like a log, and so consequently sinke.”

John Smith, A Sea Grammar, 1627

so slim soos ‘n jakkals = as clever, crafty as a jackal
so soet soos suiker / stroop = as sweet as sugar / syrup
so stadig soos ‘n trapsuutjies = as slow as a chameleon
so steeks soos ‘n donkie = as stubborn as a donkey
so sterk soos ‘n os = as strong as an ox
so stil soos ‘n muis = as quiet as a mouse
stink soos ‘n muishond = stinks like a skunk
so suur soos asyn = as sour as vinegar
so swaar soos lood = as heavy as lead
so swak soos ‘n lammetjie = as weak as a lamb
so swart soos die nag = as black as the night
swem soos ‘n vis = swims like a fish
sweet soos ‘n perd = sweats like a horse
so taai soos ‘n ratel = as tough as a honey badger
so trots soos ‘n pou = as proud as a peacock
so vas soos ‘n rots = as steady as a rock
so vinnig soos ‘n windhond = as fast as a greyhound

so wit soos sneeu = as white as snow

so wit soos sneeu = as white as snow

Imagine the pure, pristine snow of a sunny winter’s morning. Shakespeare was one of the first to use this powerful simile:

… What if this cursed hand
Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood,
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow? …

Shakespeare, Hamlet, 1602

You might be interested in:

32 original Afrikaans idioms sure to make you smile once translated into English

20 Afrikaans words with interesting English literal translations

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Celebrating South Africa’s Heritage Day through Pictures #nature, #music, #books, #culture

Heritage is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as: (1) property that descends to an heir and this is also the first known use of the word, 13th century; (2) something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor; (3) something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth.

Here, in South Africa, it is the blend of our Rainbow Nation, of our diverse cultures, beliefs and traditions that we celebrate on the 24th of September, on Heritage Day.

In South Africa we love to cook… and eat:

Franschhoek, South Africa, image by @claudiofonte free on Unsplash.jpg
Cooking in Franschhoek, South Africa, image by @claudiofonte free on Unsplash.jpg
Food, image by @adalia free on Unsplash.jpg
Local food, image by @adalia free on Unsplash.jpg
Grilling lobster, Die Strandlooper, West Coast Peninsula, image by Unserekleinemaus, free on pixabay.jpg
Grilling lobster, Die Strandlooper, West Coast Peninsula, image by Unserekleinemaus, free on pixabay.jpg
SA braai by davyart- free pixabay.jpg
SA braai by davyart- free pixabay.jpg
SA biltong. image by Robert-Owen Wahl, free on pixabay.jpg
SA biltong. image by Robert-Owen Wahl, free on pixabay.jpg
Samosa, image by @fitnish free on Unsplash.jpg
Samosa, image by @fitnish free on Unsplash.jpg
Cape Town cakes, image by @unserekleinmaus, free on pixabay.jpg
Cape Town cakes, image by @unserekleinmaus, free on pixabay.jpg
South African koeksisters - food24 dotcom.png
South African koeksisters – food24 dotcom.png

We love music, movies and we love to party:

Festival of colours, Stellenbosch, Sa, image by @nqoe free on Unsplash.jpg
Festival of colours, Stellenbosch, Sa, image by @nqoe free on Unsplash.jpg

We search for the spirit of the great heart:

Johnny Clegg – Publicity Images
Malmesbury, South Africa image by @claudz free on Unsplash.jpg
Malmesbury, South Africa image by @claudz free on Unsplash.jpg
Singers, image by @chvrlz free on Unsplash.jpg
Singers, image by @chvrlz free on Unsplash.jpg

We have more than one Indie Film Festival:

We love the outdoors:

Love for the great outdoors image by @adalia free Unsplash.jpg
Love for the great outdoors image by @adalia free Unsplash.jpg
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, created by @christianperner
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, created by @christianperner
Baby rhino, Kariega Game Reserve, Grahamstown, South Africa, image by @zoeeee_, free on Unsplash.jpg
Baby rhino, Kariega Game Reserve, Grahamstown, South Africa, image by @zoeeee_, free on Unsplash.jpg
Enjoying the sun, Cheetah, image by @elenarosaschneider free on Unsplash.jpg
Enjoying the sun, Cheetah, image by @elenarosaschneider free on Unsplash.jpg
Owl, Dullstroom, South Africa, Image by @kyran12 free on Unsplash.jpg
Owl, Dullstroom, South Africa, Image by @kyran12 free on Unsplash.jpg
Ice-cream man. Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @louis_s, free on Unsplash.jpg
Ice-cream man. Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @louis_s, free on Unsplash.jpg
Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa, image by @faxmachinerobot free on Unsplash.jpg
Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa, image by @faxmachinerobot free on Unsplash.jpg
Kloof, SA, camping,image by @rachel_lees free on Unsplash.jpg
Kloof, SA, camping,image by @rachel_lees free on Unsplash.jpg
Muizenberg Mountains, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @wesleyeland free on Unsplash.jpg
Muizenberg Mountains, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @wesleyeland free on Unsplash.jpg
Waterval Country Lodge, Tulbagh, South Africa, camping, image by @lauren_abrahall free on Unsplash.jpg
Waterval Country Lodge, Tulbagh, South Africa, camping, image by @lauren_abrahall free on Unsplash.jpg

We have a diverse economy:

Cape Town stadium, image by @abo965 free Unplash.jpg
Cape Town stadium, image by @abo965 free Unplash.jpg
Cape Town, SA, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Cape Town, SA, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Kalk Bay Harbour, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @timalanjohnson free on Unsplash.jpg
Kalk Bay Harbour, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @timalanjohnson free on Unsplash.jpg
Sales people, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Sales people, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Train, SA, image by @koalamoose free on Unsplash.jpg
Train, SA, image by @koalamoose free on Unsplash.jpg
wine-lands, image by @matt_j free on Unsplash.jpg
wine-lands, image by @matt_j free on Unsplash.jpg

We are joyful and diverse:

Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, @_entreprenerd
Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, created by @_entreprenerd
friendship. Image by @bella_the_brave free on Unsplash.jpg
friendship. Image by @bella_the_brave free on Unsplash.jpg
happy people Image by @anaya_katlego free Unsplash.jpg
happy people Image by @anaya_katlego free Unsplash.jpg
motherhood image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
motherhood image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
penguin love, Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @pamivey free on Unsplsh.jpg
penguin love, Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @pamivey free on Unsplsh.jpg
people in Limpopo image by @jaimelopes free on Unsplash.jpg
people in Limpopo image by @jaimelopes free on Unsplash.jpg

We use incredible idioms, if you translate them:

And MADIBA, whom we miss each and every day:

Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick, South Africa, image by @randomlies free on Unsplash.jpg
Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick, South Africa, image by @randomlies free on Unsplash.jpg
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Symbolism in Silent Heroes, the Story behind it via @PatFurstenberg #symbolism #fiction #history #writerslife

Symbolism in Silent Heroes

I still remember attending my first lecture on symbolism . My own studies were as far from literature and art as the moon is from the man who occupies it.

I was studying medical dentistry when a friend and I went to the University of History and Art to attend a lecture on symbolism in art. It was late one evening when we opened the massive door leading to a cosmic-size amphitheater packed with excited faces.

Happiness can be found anywhere. Sometimes you just need to search harder or ask for someone to help you discover it. A US Marine, his MWD, military working dog and Afghan boys.
Happiness can be found anywhere. Sometimes you just need to search harder or ask for someone to help you discover it. A US Marine, his MWD, military working dog and Afghan boys.

Used to look at dead bodies laying on an autopsy table, to squint inside them while trying to discern the shriveled femoral nerve from the already gray artery, I was struck by the excitement short-circuiting everyone attending the lecture and the amount of information hidden in plain view, underneath layers of colorful paint.

I was hooked and, although I may not have earned a degree in art, the keen interest in symbolism has sipped into my pores for good.

Symbology - 'In God we Trust'.  (Army Photographic Competition 2012 - Pro Portfolio winner; Photo by SSgt Nesbit RLC/MoD/Mandatory Credit Crown Copyright via Getty Images)
‘In God we Trust’. (Army Photographic Competition 2012 – Pro Portfolio winner; Photo by SSgt Nesbit RLC/MoD/Mandatory Credit Crown Copyright via Getty Images) These include a simple disk with a cross cut out which he wore with his identity (Dog) tags, and an American coin dated 1988, the year of his birth. The soldier who wanted to remain unidentified carried these with him all the time whilst he served in Afghanistan on Operation Herrick 15 for luck.

Was symbolism introduced in “Silent Heroes” intentionally?

On writing “Silent Heroes” I did not plan to include symbolism. It wasn’t a voluntary act, like research had been, or plotting the outline of the story, building my characters. Including symbolical elements was a work of my sly subconscious mind. It’s been the work of my cerebellum, you can say. Anatomy having its own play over art.

I do not expect readers to pick up on the symbolism used or to interpret it in the same way. I think this is very much connected to how our minds are wired. Some of us see things that others don’t, because they are not important to them. I does not mean that the first group hallucinates, or that the second group is inattentive.

The Purple Sunbird, (Cinnyris asiaticus) is found in the dry zone from the Arabian Peninsula into Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan until the dry zone of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
The Purple Sunbird, (Cinnyris asiaticus) is found in the dry zone from the Arabian Peninsula into Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan until the dry zone of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Has symbolism in “Silent Heroes” been consciously manipulated at any stage during the writing process?

Now, this would imply that, at some stage during the writing of “Silent Heroes“, I picked up on some symbols introduced in the story-line. Which I did. Once I became conscious of the implications these symbolism will have on the narrative, I kept developing that thread. I did not removed it, since it was introduced organically and not voluntarily.

I felt that if I will remove the symbols, the story will be less rich, the characters, at least some of them, will lose their credibility. And myself, as a writer, will lose the passion for the telling of the story of these “Silent Heroes“, passion that had fueled me for over two years.

A book thrown in the dust.
A book thrown in the dust.

Can other symbols be discovered in “Silent Heroes”?

Other symbols, besides the ones my subconscious mind placed and my conscious mind picked up? I believe so, as I trust the reader’s creative minds as well as the connection I hope they will establish this book.

Lady Tulip - Tulipa clusiana From Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and the western Himalayas
Lady Tulip – Tulipa clusiana From Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and the western Himalayas

Is symbolism for real?

Is air real? Is the language we speak real? Is the sky blue? Humans have a innate ability and desire for creating things out of nothing. Buildings out of dust, worlds out of words, art out of dreams.

And humans also need to communicate. Writers communicate through their books. Language itself is a symbolic form of communication. Symbols used by artists, and therefore by writers, are placed – subconsciously or not – to help channel the results of their work. The end product. Much like a painter creating a portrait, an architect, a building that lasts, writers stir their stories using symbols, where appropriate.

The journey a writer takes when creating a book is anchored in his dreams and imagination, but it is stirred by the hidden symbolism which is also a product of his own mind.

A gardener and his garden in Afghanistan. Afghans are avid garners.
A gardener and his garden in Afghanistan. Afghans are avid garners.

Images of symbolism in “Silent Heroes” *****SPOILER ALERT*****

Without spoiling the plot, I will list a few of the symbols I unconsciously introduced in my latest work of fiction “Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for”.

An Afghan butterfly on a soldier's sleeve.
An Afghan butterfly on a soldier’s sleeve.

You do not have to read past this point if you have not read “Silent Heroes” yet. You can have a sneak peek here.

You could skip the very short, last paragraph, and return to it after reading “Silent Heroes”.

Silent Heroes, When Love and Faith Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes, When Love and Faith Are Worth Fighting for

Some of the symbols found in “Silent Heroes” are:

Qala-e-Bost Fortress, Afghanistan
Qala-e-Bost, Afghansitan

The blue bird.

The book in the dust.

Qala-e-Bost Fortress.

Poppy flowers.

The Afghan garden.

What do they symbolize?

I suggest you don’t go past this point if you haven’t read “Silent Heroes” yet. First read the book, then return and see if your thoughts and mine converge.

Symbolism in Silent Heroes
Symbolism in Silent Heroes

To me, the blue bird symbolizes the spirit of Emma’s mother, as well as hope in another chance for happiness. A reminder that hope exists, no matter what situation we find ourselves in.

The book in the dust symbolizes the disrespect for human life and human wrights. Books are a well of wisdom and the product of hard, assiduous work. They don’t belong in the dirt, just like human life does not.

Qala-e-Bost Fortress symbolizes the upright spirit of the Afghan people, still standing after centuries of wars and oppression. And just like the people of Afghanistan, through its architecture, it is deeply rooted in its land, drawing strength from it.

Poppy flowers are both a symbol of the blood spilled in Afghanistan and of the never-ending struggle for survival of the Afghan people. Poppies are extremely resilient, they can grow under harsh weather conditions, although they look so fragile. But poppies are also deadly plants in the sense that farming them caught so many innocent souls in the loop of poverty and addiction.

The Afghan Garden symbolizes Heaven and hope in a land devastated by wars. Just as Heaven transcends all spirits and gods, being present in all religions, all people, no matter of their religion, sex or skin color, are equal in the eyes of God.

Have you discovered other symbols after reading “Silent Heroes“? Tell me about them, I’d love to hear from you.

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg
Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

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27 German idioms to display the German’s love for fairy tales and sausages via @PatFurstenberg #idioms #language #translation #German #English

Weather it is Michael Ende’s “The Never Ending Story” (“Die Unendliche Geschichte”), Erich Kästner’s “Emil and the Detectives” (“Emil Und Die Detektive”) or Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel”, German storytelling reveals a rich culture and a millennial tradition. But did you now that this country produces over 1200 different types of sausages? Surely the opulent German cuisine would have also infiltrated the expressive Teutonic language, as we can see from the following German idioms.

Kein Schwein war da

Translation: There weren’t any pigs there

Meaning: Not worth going, a bad place to be (to understand this idiom you need to keep in mind the German’s love for sausages.

Kein Schwein war da - Not worth going

Das ist mir Wurst

Translation: That’s sausage to me

Meaning: That doesn’t matter

Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei

Translation: Everything has an end. Only the sausage has two

Meaning: All good things must end (but said with a lot more feeling)

Sie spielt die beleidigte Leberwurst

Translation: She’s playing the insulted sausage

Meaning: She’s all worked up (said with lots of gusto)

Sie spielt die beleidigte Leberwurst - She’s all worked up

Eine Extrawurst haben

Translation: To get an extra sausage

Meaning: To ask for special treatment 

Er muss zu allem seinen Senf dazugeben

Translation: He has to add his mustard to everything

Meaning: Give his two cents worth 

Wir haben zusammen noch keine Schweine gehütet!

Translation: We haven’t kept any pigs together

Meaning: We don’t know each other all that well

Wir haben zusammen noch keine Schweine gehütet - We don’t know each other all that well

Schwein haben

Translation: To have a pig

Meaning: To be lucky. Obviously to Germans having a pig means a lot more that having a cow means to the English speaking world.

Mein Englisch ist unter aller Sau

Translation: My English is under all pig

Meaning: My English is really bad

Wie die Kuh vorm neuen Tor dastehen

Translation: Like a cow standing in front of a new door

Meaning: Confused, much like someone faced with a new situation

Der Elefant und das Lamm - Amazon
Der Elefant und das Lamm – Amazon

Da liegt der Hase im Pfeffer!

Translation: There’s a rabbit in the pepper

Meaning: something that is depressing, a catastrophe.

Da steppt der Bär

Translation: That’s where the bear dances

Meaning: A great party

Jemandem einen Bären aufbinden

Translation: To tie a bear to someone

Meaning: to deceive someone into accepting something false

Der Löwe und der Hund  - Amazon
Der Löwe und der Hund – Amazon

Affentheater

Translation: Monkey theatre

Meaning: An outrageous behavior (Its origin lies back in the 19th century and the ambulant animal fun shows)

Sie hat ein Kater

Translation:She has a tomcat

Meaning: She’s got a hangover

Das ist ein Katzensprung

Translation: That’s a cat jump

Meaning: Something is very close, a stone’s throw away

Der Gepard und der Hund - Amazon
Der Gepard und der Hund – Amazon

Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof

Translation: Life is no pony farm

Meaning: Life is not easy

Vogel friss oder stirb

Translation: Bird eat or die

Meaning: Pretty straight forward. It’s a do or die situation. 

Der Fisch stinkt vom Kopf her

Translation: The fish starts stinking from the head

Meaning: Problems always start at the top (so very true in politics)

Sie hat einen Vogel

Translation: She has a bird

Meaning: She is mentally ill

Wo sich Fuchs und Hase gute Nacht sagen

Translation: Where fox and hare say goodnight to one another

Meaning: in the middle of nowhere, in a remote location (and surely not in a story book)

Da liegt der Hund begraben

Translation: That’s where the dog’s buried

Meaning: That’s the heart of the matter – when you want to show that you know what the situation is about

Katze in Sack kaufen

Translation: To buy a cat in a sack

Meaning: To buy something without inspecting it first

Wer weiß, warum die Gänse barfuß gehen

Translation: Who knows why the geese go barefoot

Meaning: That’s just the way it is

Schlafen wie ein Murmeltier

Translation: Sleep like a marmot

Meaning: Sleep like a log

Tomaten auf den Augen haben

Translation: To have tomatoes in your eyes

Meaning: Not being able to see the obvious

Klar wie Kloßbrühe

Translation: clear as dumpling broth

Meaning: crystal clear

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32 original Afrikaans idioms sure to make you smile once translated into English via @PatFurstenberg, #SouthAfrica #languages #learning #fun #amreading

South Africa thumbs up - Afrikaans Idioms translated into English

Afrikaans, a language rich in idioms and emotions, is the world’s youngest national language and one of South Africa’s 11 official languages. Born about 350 years ago through a blend of Dutch, German and French spoken by settlers in what is now South Africa, Afrikaans is part of the West Germanic languages and is currently spoken by approximately 13 million people found mostly in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Idioms are reputable for having a meaning not deductible from that of the individual words. Let’s see how some Afrikaans idioms translate into English.

1. Alle grappies op ‘n stokkie

English: All jokes on a stick

Meaning: On a more serious note

2. As die hemel val is ons almal dood

English: If heaven falls, we’re all dead

Meaning: To complain less; let’s not always think about what could go wrong

3. Die aap uit die mou laat

English: To let the monkey out of the sleeve

Meaning: To release the cat out of the bag; to spill the beans

Die aap uit die mou laat - To spill the beans
Die aap uit die mou laat – To spill the beans

4. Die berge het ‘n muis gebaar

English: The mountain gave birth to a mouse

Meaning: When you put in a lot of effort into a project but have very little to show for it

5. Die bobbejaan agter die bult gaan uithaal

English: To fetch a baboon from behind the hill

Meaning: To think or talk about problems that haven’t happened yet, thus possibly making them happen.

6. Dis die klein jakkalsies wat die wingerde verniel

English: It is the small jackals that ruined the vineyard

Meaning: Small mistakes can cause big troubles

Nou in Afrikaans - kinderboeke 4+ - Get them on Amazon
Nou in Afrikaans – kinderboeke 4+ – Get them on Amazon

7. Die doodskleed het geen sakke nie

English: A dead man’s suit does not have pockets

Meaning: When you die, your possessions mean nothing

8. Die geel baadjie aan hê

English: To wear a yellow jacket

Meaning: To be jealous

9. Die poppe gaan dans

English: The dolls will dance

Meaning: There’s going to be trouble

Die poppe gaan dans - There's going to be trouble
Die poppe gaan dans – There’s going to be trouble

10. Dis ‘n feit soos ‘n koei

English:  It’s a fact like a cow

Meaning: It is a fact you can’t argue with

11. Dit weet die aap se stert

English: What the monkey’s tail knows

Meaning: Something everyone knows

12. Hang aan ‘n tak

English: Hanging onto a branch

Meaning: Hold on for a second

Die Leeu en die Hond - Get it on Amazon
Die Leeu en die Hond – Get it on Amazon

13. Hoe kaler die jakkals, hoe groter die stert

English: The more naked the jackal, the bigger its tail is

Meaning: Those who have the least to show for themselves, brag the most

14. Hy het ‘n klap van die windmeul weg

English: He’s been hit by a windmill

Meaning: To not be sound of mind

15. Hy skil sy aartappels nie twee keer nie

English: You don’t peel your potatoes twice

Meaning: Get it right the first time.

Hy skil sy aartappels nie twee keer nie - Get it right the first time
Hy skil sy aartappels nie twee keer nie – Get it right the first time

16. Iemand heuning om die mond smeer

English: To rub honey on someone’s mouth

Meaning: To butter someone up with flattery

17. Iemand ‘n gat in die kop praat

English: To talk a hole in someone’s head

Meaning: To find a way to persuade someone (to do something bad)

18. Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou

English: The jackal is marrying the wolf’s wife

Meaning: Used when the weather is surprising: it rains on a sunny day

Die Jagluiperd en die Hond - Get it on Amazon
Die Jagluiperd en die Hond – Get it on Amazon

19. Jy krap met ‘n kort stokkie aan ‘n groot leeu se bal

English: You scratch a big lion’s bollocks with a shot stick

Meaning: To be arrogant; to push one’s luck

20. Katjie van die baan

English: A kitten from the track

Meaning: Used to describe someone with social skills, with humor. It can also be used when children stay up too late at night.

21. ‘n Aap in die mou hê

English: To have a monkey up your sleeve

Meaning: To have something up your sleeve; to hide a mischievous plan

‘n Aap in die mou hê - to have something up your sleeve
‘n Aap in die mou hê – to have something up your sleeve

22. ‘n Hond uit ‘n bos gesels

English: To talk a dog out of a bush

Meaning: To have a great conversation or to describe someone very chatty

23. ‘n Gat in die dag slaap

English: To sleep a hole in the day

Meaning: To sleep very late

24. ʼn Man van twaalf ambagte en dertien ongelukke

English: A man of twelve trades and thirteen accidents

Meaning: Used to describe a Jack of all trades, but a master of none

Die Olifant en die Skaap - Get it on Amazon
Die Olifant en die Skaap – Get it on Amazon

25. Moenie die hoender ruk nie

English: Don’t shake the chicken

Meaning: Don’t overdo it

26. Nes ‘n aap op ‘n stokkie

English: Like a monkey on a stick

Meaning: To look perplexed

27. Nou nou

English: Now now
Meaning: In a little while, in a bit

Nou nou - In a little while, in a bit
Nou nou – In a little while, in a bit

28. So ‘n bek moet jam kry

English: such a mouth should get jam

Meaning: Used when someone says something you agree with or when someone is witty and deserves a praise.

29. So skaars soos ‘n tweedehandse doodskis

English: As scarce as a second hand coffin

Meaning: Something extremely rare

30. Sy kerk is uit

English: His church is out

Meaning:It’s all over for him; he doesn’t stand another chance.

31. Twee rye spore loop

English: To walk two lines of tracks

Meaning: To be drunk

32. Wors in die hondehok soek

English: To search for a sausage in a dog’s kennel

Meaning: To look for the needle in the haystack, to look for something you cannot find

Did you know that the biggest South African communities outside of South Africa are found in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, Chile, Portugal and Greece?


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