In German for instance, we can see idioms related to sausages, since pig-farming is a big part of the culture and cuisine. Irina Dumitrescu, a food writer from Bonn says, ‘‘no matter the occasion, the German language will probably have a suitably sausage-y saying for it’’. For example, ‘a woman who plays the insulted liverwurst’, is a prima donna who is sulking and ‘someone who can barely steal a sausage from a plate’, is unimpressive, despite the impression he tries to give.
Anyone who is learning Chinese on the other hand, will know that it’s a very complex language, full of figurative speech. ‘Yī luò qiān zhàng’ translates as ‘one fall, a thousand feet’, which means a mistake can lead to disastrous consequences. But, hey, perhaps that’s better than being ‘caught between the devil and the blue sea’ or a ‘rock and a hard place’.
“We all use idioms all the time, even if we don’t really realise it,” says Dr Gareth Carrol, a lecturer in Psycholinguistics at the University of Birmingham. "Someone ‘spills the beans’ or ‘drops the ball’; as a result, we ‘hit the roof’ or there is ‘hell to pay’, then sooner or later (hopefully) we ‘bury the hatchet’ or ‘wipe the slate clean’”, explains Carrol.
What’s especially interesting about idioms – which are good language tools - is that not only does it show us how a language works, how its people think and how it interlinks with culture, but also often, this type of figurative speech speaks volumes.