Say what?

One of my favorite things about learning languages is learning the strange sayings that each language has. We take for granted that sayings in our native language make sense simply because we know them–when in reality, they are all pretty odd, really. Here are a few I learned today in Slovenian class:

BITI LAČEN KOT VOLK:  to be hungry as a wolf

BITI POČASEN KOT POLŽ: to be slow as a snail

BITI PRIDEN KOT ČEBELA/MRAVLJA: to be as good/busy as a bee or an ant

BITI ZVEST KOT PES: to be loyal as a dog

BITI ZDRAV KOT RIBA:  to be healthy as a fish

BITI TRAMAST KOT OSEL: to be stubborn as a donkey

BITI MOKER KOT MIŠ: to be wet as  mouse

There are a lot of similar concepts (if not whole phrases) to English. However, “wet as a mouse” or “healthy as a fish” still kind of throw me. Even better? One of my Hungarian friends told me that the saying in Hungary is “healthy as an acorn.”

If someone hasn’t done it already, this would be a great idea for a paper or a book or something. Where do these sayings come from? What makes them so popular? And why on earth do we say them when they make no sense at all? English has some odd ones, too…

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