[ExI] Translating language idioms is dificult

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Thu Jun 11 10:11:17 UTC 2015

Much excitement was generated in the news, TV and web by the recent
pigeon genitalia drama.
It now appears that an Arabic idiom in a document was translated as
“revealing the genitals”. No reference was made as to whose genitals
were revealed. It seems that the Daily Mail writers seized the
opportunity to have fun and mock the Muslim document.
In Arabic, the idiom is used to mean misbehaviour or dishonourable conduct.

Snopes has a full explanation.

This is similar to UK people describing something as "the bees knees"
or "the dogs bollocks".
No reference is intended to insect leg hinge joints or male dog genitalia.


An American might use the phrase "behind the eight ball" and get
confused looks from non-Americans.

Language translation really needs to avoid idioms to be understood.
Using basic English with a limited vocabulary makes life easier. (Like
Voice of America's Special English).


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