What a Wonderful Phrase

Publisher: Little Tiger

This beautifully illustrated book explores a range of curious idioms from around the world and investigates their origins and meanings. Each phrase is presented in its original language, and sometimes its own alphabet, along with a phonetic guide to pronunciation, a literal English translation and an explanation of its meaning.

The author considers how each saying may have come into being, sometimes providing multiple suggestions. In addition, there are wonderful snippets of related trivia. For example, the Afrikaans’ phrase ‘to put on the naughty shoes’, meaning ‘to venture boldly’, is accompanied by fabulous anecdotes about a variety of intrepid explorers. English phrases include ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ and ‘to cost an arm and a leg’; a delightful Japanese idiom, ‘Not seeing is a flower’, translates as ‘what is imagined is better than reality’; and, from Spain, ‘I can see your feather duster’ means ‘I know what you’re really up to’.

Charming full-page illustrations add colour and detail to this quirky book, which splendidly demonstrates how languages constantly evolve to incorporate an eclectic mix of cultural and historical influences.

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