Questions tagged [translation]

Determining English equivalents for words or phrases in other languages (that is, translation into English). We don't actually do translations: we can try and help you with your own translation. Please see the detailed tag info for guidance on what to ask.

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182
votes
15answers
38k views

Do most languages need more space than English?

I saw the following statement on User Experience: Supporting multiple languages can break the user interface, because most languages need more space than english This seems to be a gross ...
95
votes
13answers
12k views

Is there English counterpart(s) to Japanese old saying, “Present salt to your enemy.”?

We have a popular Japanese saying, “敵に塩を送る” — literally, “present (supply) salt to one's enemy”, meaning ‘play fair and square, not taking advantage of the weak point of your rival.’ It’s different ...
94
votes
9answers
25k views

Why Third 'Reich'? Why is 'reich' not translated when 'third' is? What is the English synonym of reich?

Why is Nazi-Germany commonly referred to as "The Third Reich" in English? Why is reich not translated when Dritten ("third") is? And what is the English synonym of reich? Realm? Austria (Republik ...
82
votes
21answers
14k views

English equivalent of the Persian proverb “When there's fire, wet and dry burn together”

There's a well-known proverb in Persian, which, translated literally, goes like this: Where there's fire, wet and dry burn together. The original being ".وقتی آتش موجود باشد) تر و خشک با هم می ...
81
votes
10answers
23k views

Captain America said “if you get killed, walk it off!” How to understand “walk it off”?

The Avengers 2 just hit China yesterday. The official translation of the line "If you get killed, walk it off!" is "Someone is trying to kill you, run, run for your life" (This is the English version ...
57
votes
11answers
10k views

You “show” someone a picture. You “---” someone a song?

In Maltese, we have a verb meaning "to show" corresponding to "to see/to look", and we have a different verb corresponding to "to hear/to listen": inti tara stampa (you look at a picture.) ---- ...
49
votes
13answers
10k views

What is the most common English term for a person who attempts a coup d'état?

In Latin America, we have the Portuguese/Spanish word golpista (from the word golpe = coup d'état). In the British media, I've read coup monger and also putschist (from German word putsch = coup d'...
47
votes
25answers
9k views

Is there a similar English phrase for this Tamil proverb - “Lavish outside home yet starving inside of it”?

In Tamil, a south Indian language, there is a saying which roughly translates into English as: Lavish outside home, starving inside of it. Background : This proverb has a mocking tone and ...
44
votes
14answers
20k views

Is there a common saying in English that means “It's just business, I don't feel any shame”

In Gujarati language there is a saying which literally means "no shame in business". It is used in a context where one has to do something unpleasant (or immoral) for the sake of their business (...
41
votes
10answers
19k views

“To shoot out of cannon into sparrows”

In Russian we have idiom/saying "To shoot out of cannon into sparrows" (literal translation) which is used to convey an idea of applying too drastic measures to small problems. I believe there should ...
41
votes
15answers
6k views

Are there English equivalents for “as beautiful as butt inside out”?

There is an old saying in Ukrainian folklore, which literally sounds like “[someone is] as beautiful as ass inside out” (“Гарна як срака навиворіт”). It is used when one wants to point a person's ...
40
votes
15answers
21k views

A word for a joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh

There is a word for this in Indonesian language: jayus. (Maybe, it is used in Filipino and Malaysian language also.) It is a joke that is so bad, it's funny. It is often mentioned as untranslatable....
36
votes
13answers
8k views

Is there an English equivalent for “Les carottes sont cuites”, while keeping the vegetable reference?

In French, we have this saying "Les carottes sont cuites", meaning "It's too late we can't do anything anymore" or "It's over for him" (He's dead) depending on the context. The literal translation ...
34
votes
28answers
17k views

Derogatory term for a corporate employee

I’m looking for a derogatory term for a person who works in a big, international business. In Polish we have a few informal words for that, like korpoludek (“corpo little guy”) and korpoczłowiek (“...
33
votes
12answers
7k views

How can the Chinglish expression “you can you up” be translated?

The Chinese phrase 你行你上 (literally "you good you up", usually expressed in Chinglish as "you can you up") is used against people who criticize the incompetence of others, yet are not competent ...
33
votes
14answers
8k views

Is there a verb for remaining silent?

Dutch has the verb zwijgen, which means remaining silent. Ik zwijg means I remain silent or I say nothing. It is also often used as an imperative, similar to shut up. I have been discussing this ...
30
votes
12answers
4k views

English equivalent of the Portuguese phrase: “this person's mood changes according to the moon”

In Portuguese there is an expression that says: "Essa pessoa é de lua." Literally "this person's mood changes according to the moon", which means that nobody can predict that person's mood. Is ...
28
votes
10answers
6k views

What is an English equivalent of the Chinese noun 心眼?

Looking for an English equivalent of the Chinese noun 心眼 if there is any, or the best way to describe it. If someones has 心眼, then you can say they are sly. But, what do they have if they are sly? ...
27
votes
7answers
8k views

Is 'I f*cked the dog' an actual idiom and are there alternatives

I am a non-native speaker from Germany. In German there's one idiom that goes: Sich die Eier schaukeln Literally translated, this means "to rock the eggs", where "the eggs" are testicles. This is ...
27
votes
9answers
3k views

“Saving on the parrot's chocolate is futile”

In Catalan there is an expression "ser la xocolata del lloro" that can be translated as "saving by not giving chocolate to the parrot is futile", conveying the meaning that when a household wants to ...
26
votes
18answers
7k views

Term describing the practice of anticipating dangers while driving

When one is driving a car (or any other vehicle for that matter) there is a German term that describes the practice trying to predict situations that might occur. When attempting to translate it I can ...
26
votes
10answers
6k views

Idiom for “the first attempt (of something) is never right”

In Russian there's a saying that 'the first crepe always comes out wrong' (literally 'stuck together into a ball'), meaning that you'll have to try more than once to succeed at something - because ...
24
votes
13answers
5k views

Translation of a German word: “Gutmensch”

The word "Gutmensch" consists of gut = good Mensch = human Sounds like a compliment but actually the word is very insulting. It describes someone who (for example) is not able to take criticism, ...
24
votes
4answers
5k views

What do you call it when your unit does physical exercise as punishment because one soldier did something wrong?

I served in the Russian military and we weren't allowed to use our phones when we were on duty. So whenever someone was noticed using their phone, the whole unit had to do push-ups, squats, etc. In ...
23
votes
10answers
90k views

English equivalent of komorebi (木漏れ日) — “sunshine filtering through leaves”

Is there an English equivalent of komorebi (木漏れ日), which means the sunshine filtering through the leaves of a tree (or trees)? It is made up of three kanji and the hiragana particle れ. The first ...
22
votes
9answers
6k views

Equivalent of the Dutch phrase “take it down a notch”

In Dutch, we have a saying 'Een toontje lager zingen' which basically means that the person should sing a bit lower, a.k.a "take it down a notch" or "put someone in his place". Sing a bit lower is an ...
22
votes
9answers
5k views

How can I translate the words for the two types of bathrooms found in Russia into English?

I work in real estate, and sometimes I have to translate respective inscriptions from my native Russian into English. I get stuck in some cases where not only linguistic, but cultural differences have ...
21
votes
11answers
6k views

A term for a woman complaining about things/begging in a cute/childish way

I'm trying to find a fitting translation for a Chinese term, which means that a woman is trying to be cute in front of her man in order to get what she wants. While she does this, her voice will ...
21
votes
8answers
3k views

Are there sentences in languages which use grammatical gender that lose meaning when translated into English?

English nouns which don't denote people or animals with natural gender do not (apart from a few rare examples) use grammatical gender. So for example, "table" is always an "it" in English, whereas it ...
21
votes
4answers
5k views

Do the English have an ancient (obsolete) verb for the action of the book opening? [closed]

Do the English have an ancient (obsolete) verb for the action of the book opening? For example, in Russian we say otkrit' (open the book), but in the Old slavonic the verb razognuti (to unbend the ...
20
votes
8answers
7k views

How can I say I can't guarantee information I'm about to give is correct?

In German, there's an idiom that goes like "Nagel mich nicht darauf fest" (literally, "don't nail me down on that!") usually followed my some kind of information that is given without complete ...
20
votes
33answers
10k views

What's the English equivalent of “Drilling one's head”?

In Arabic (Specifically, north-western Levantine), there's a saying that goes like He drilled my head about/with that lunch meeting (بخشلي راسي باجتماع الغدا) Which means something along the lines ...
20
votes
10answers
3k views

Describe that someone’s explanation matches your knowledge level

In German, in the context of knowledge transfer from one person to another (or to a group) you can say Du hast mich gut abgeholt. (literally translated You picked me up well) This sentence means ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

When did we stop translating proper names?

It used to be that one would just translate a proper name that was in another language into English when referring to that entity. For example, William the Conqueror, Christopher Columbus, King ...
19
votes
13answers
6k views

Is there a word for “antro” in English?

I'm looking for a word equivalent to the Spanish word antro. Its definitions are "building frequented by delinquents and people of bad reputation" and "dirty dwelling of bad appearance". Maybe the ...
19
votes
4answers
5k views

Word for “distance in time”

I need the correct English word for the German expression (zeitlicher) Abstand. Abstand means "distance", and zeitlich means "in time". The "distance" between building maintenance dates is about ...
18
votes
6answers
3k views

Why are the same words translated differently into English depending on their meaning?

I've seen it several times before, but only have one example at hand right now. This Forbes article mentions Russia as country's name, but Rossiya as the bank's name, despite that these words are ...
17
votes
6answers
3k views

What do you call a glade or path created artificially in order to to prevent wildfires?

Now that wildfires are such a huge issue everywhere it's a wonder that the word isn't in everyday use. Such paths, or glades, don't always prevent wildfires, but they sure make the firefighter's job ...
17
votes
8answers
6k views

What is the English equivalent of the Persian word “Saghi” (ساقی)?

About the word: In Persian, Saghi is someone who pours wine and hands it. In Iran, when friends gather to drink wine together, they sit around and one of them (with a rather higher social status ...
17
votes
11answers
4k views

Is it OK to say “The situation is pregnant with a crisis”?

I am translating a sentence to English that literally means: The world seems to be pregnant with an environmental crisis. By looking up pregnant in dictionaries like Cambridge and Merriam ...
17
votes
6answers
9k views

Friendlier way to express you paid for a person's drink/dinner and expect it to be paid back

In Dutch we have the word voorschieten. In English it translates — according to Google Translate — to "advance, lend, disburse". The Dutch word voorschieten is used in an informal setting between ...
17
votes
7answers
10k views

English equivalent of a Kannada proverb

The saying goes like "ಬಡವನ ಸಿಟ್ಟು ದವಡೆಗೆ ಮೂಲ". When roughly translated to English it means: A poor man's anger only hurts his jaw [due to all the grinding of teeth in the process]. How to ...
16
votes
14answers
4k views

What is an informal term for a person who can't do anything right? [closed]

In Russian we have the term "рукожоп". I would translate it as "asshands" which literally means that your hands grow out of your behind and you can't do anything right (or do anything at all). ...
16
votes
11answers
5k views

Equivalent of “teri lal” a Hindi phrase which means “you are right” said sarcastically (but not actually meant) [closed]

There is a saying in Hindi in India "teri lal" which translates "yours is red" which means "Whatever the case may be you are right" as in "you are always right". It is a sarcastic way of telling (...
16
votes
21answers
27k views

Idiom for doing something intentionally despite knowing the outcome might be bad

Is there any idiom for doing something intentionally despite knowing the outcome might be bad, or an expression for a person who does such a thing? For example, I know that if I ask someone a ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the translation of the French word “erre”?

In French, there is a word erre which is the residual speed of a train, a ship or a car (or whatever is moving and needs propulsion). For example, if you see a red light in your car, you stop ...
16
votes
4answers
9k views

Is “plastic glass” as a container a valid expression?

In another question here (sanity of a plastic glass!) the term "plastic glass" is being used which sounds somewhat odd to me, but has not been brought into question by any respondents. Maybe it is ...
15
votes
11answers
5k views

Better alternatives to “Save me!” - meaning to save electricity

There is a sign on the light switch at a bilingual school to encourage students to switch off the lights when not in use and help save energy: Save me! Translating "Save me!" to Slovak, would be: ...
15
votes
24answers
3k views

Favourite untranslatables [closed]

What are your favourite words and idioms in other languages that don't have good, succinct equivalents in English? (The issue of whether there is, or could be, a sentence on one language whose ...
15
votes
7answers
4k views

Word for not being able to focus on one task

In Hebrew, my native language, we have a word describing the inability of one to focus on a certain task and instead thinking or doing one or many related/unrelated things. This word roughly ...