Like pinning jelly to a wall

By | January 29th, 2004|Idioms|

Blaming Tony Blair is like trying to pin jelly to a wall. I heard this expression earlier today on Radio 4. The journalist was commenting on how miraculously Tony Blair had been absolved by the Hutton enquiry into the death of Dr Kelly. It seems that no one can prove anything against the Prime Minister. I of course immediately wondered how to translate this expression into French. And failed. I just couldn’t think of an equivalent visual expression in French. Jelly being so quintessentially British, I wondered if I could make up an expression with something quintessentially French that would also be impossible to pin to a wall. A baguette? That’s actually possible, you just need a really long pin. Cheese? Better, as it works for crumbly cheese, but then you could pin hard cheese, like camembert or gruyère. Wine? But who would try to pin wine on a wall anyway? This was clearly getting silly. I needed a fresh approach. I turned to the Internet, my faithful ally, and found this one, which I quite liked: like teaching the Eiffel Tower to waltz (autant essayer d’apprendre à la Tour Eiffel à valser). Not quite as good, but still visual. Then I called my mum, who, with the help of the customers in her little shop, is always a precious resource when I’m looking for expressions. The best thing she could think of was "on reprochera quelque chose à Blair quand les poules auront des dents" (Blair will be blamed when chickens have teeth). It’s a better-known expression in French but we lose the visual image of an impossible and rather silly task. So I’m still not satisfied. Of course, your suggestions/flashes of creativity are most welcome. […]

Oche

By | January 27th, 2004|Words|

We visited friends in Walthamstow (East London) this weekend and in the afternoon, [...]

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Word of Mouth

By | January 26th, 2004|Language|

Thanks Andy for letting me know about Word of Mouth, a half-hour weekly [...]

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Baby-foot

By | January 23rd, 2004|Words|

Aren't false anglicisms a real oddity? Last night, I was explaining to a [...]

Understatement

By | January 21st, 2004|Language|

“We're now going to try and land, cabin crew take your seats for [...]

It might look like a holiday, but…

By | January 16th, 2004|Freelance Translation|

Tomorrow, I'm going to France until Tuesday. This is not a holiday, and [...]

Grandiose

By | January 14th, 2004|Words|

Grandiose is another word of Latin origin. I heard it mentioned during the [...]

Totality

By | January 12th, 2004|Words|

Tony Blair: "I stand by the totality of what I said at that [...]

Le Fish & Chips

By | January 9th, 2004|Culture|

We all know that the English owe the French very many wonderful things. [...]

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Adaptation

By | January 8th, 2004|Technical corner|

Lorelai: I kept information from you. Rory: Information that I should have had. [...]