If a Russian were to accuse you of getting lost in three pine trees, or a Swede warn you that the cow is now on the ice, you’re first reaction would probably be bafflement.
If you study illustrator Kerry Hyndman’s new book Hyndman’s Illustrated Compedium of International Idioms however, you’d realise that your reactions should be anger and fear respectively.
The Russian – it transpires – would be accusing you of being one sandwich short of a picnic while the Swede would be warning you that now we’re really in trouble.
Hyndman, who has recently completed an MA in illustration at Kingston University, has created a book which illustrates and explains eight bizarre foreign idioms.
These include the Norwegian caught standing with your beard in the mailbox (meaning caught with your pants down) and the Italian to reheat the cabbage (meaning to rekindle an old flame).
Hyndman says she was inspired to write the book after a Norwegian flatmate asked her the meaning of the English phrase sorry to rain on your parade. She says, ‘I realised it’s very difficult to understand another country’s idioms – but they’re also very fascinating.’
The self-published book is available through the website http://www.kerryhyndman.co.uk/.