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In my mother tongue, we have an expression that I have translated to

I read the dictionary as if it were a novel.

I think the meaning is easy to grasp by I wonder if there a more suitable translation.

Thank you.

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closed as off-topic by Carlo_R., MετάEd, Kit Z. Fox Jul 11 '13 at 0:02

  • This question does not appear to be about English language and usage within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I can't think of any equivalent figure of speech in English, but your translation made sense to me, at least. – Lynn Jul 10 '13 at 21:10
So it is implying either that trying to learn everything in the dictionary by reading it cover-to-cover is a waste of time because you're not getting the best use of it (which would be looking up each word, as needed) - OR - that you're trying to put meaning to something that is not meant to be taken literally, i.e., a string of words in alphabetical order with no collective meaning between each other? – Kristina Lopez Jul 10 '13 at 21:28
What is the meaning of this in the original? – Charles Jul 10 '13 at 21:52
Translation is off topic per the faq. – MετάEd Jul 10 '13 at 23:36
Helio, if you'd like this to be reopened, you should edit your questino and explain more thoroughly what the quote really means, what its connotations are, what situations you would use it in. Do you use it to describe a useless situation (' a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle'), or how smart someone is, or how much they like to learn? Would you use it about yourself (as you've done in the OP), or as a compliment or insult about someone else? Or other things? Also, put those things in your question, not in comments. – Mitch Jul 11 '13 at 0:25

"I read the dictionary from cover to cover." Novel is not appropriate because it is more likely that somebody read the dictionary thoroughly and diligently, rather than with great interest.

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No. You are missing the point. – Hélio Santos Jul 10 '13 at 22:44
To be fair, it's hard to get the point, because many of us are not familiar with the expression. It's a fascinating quip, but I agree with @Mitch – we need some extra help trying to figure out how the expression is used, not just the literal meaning of the words. – J.R. Jul 11 '13 at 0:52
@J.R. Thanks. It had been a bummer to have been downvoted. Although, to be perfectly fair, the link to the BBC story that the OP posted in a comment did explain that the intended connotation was "with great interest" rather than throughly. Interesting words in the story btw. If nothing else, I deserved the downvote for even trying to answer! But hey, at least I answered my first question here :) Thank you again for your kind comment! – semantax Jul 11 '13 at 1:51

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