Using Slovenian idioms is an interesting way to learn Slovene and to have a better understanding of its cultural heritage. It is a different, but fun method to learn grammar!
Sedem debelih krav – Seven fat cows Having seven fat cows means to be in a time of prosperity, richness and abundance. On the opposite, “sedem suhih krav” (seven skinny cows) means to be in a time of crisis. Each “cows” also refers to a year – so seven years of prosperity.
Pet krav za en groš – Five cows for one penny Doesn’t it seem like an amazing deal? Well… it actually means that something is too good to be true, and most likely incredible, absurd. Such a nonsense that it is unlikely to be real. (Who would exchange five cows for one penny…? I know I wouldn’t.)
Delati za tri – To work for three It means to work a lot, as much as three people together! This expression mainly emphases on the “za tri” (for three). Therefore, it can also be used as following: “jesti za tri” (to eat for three), močen za tri (strong as three), veljati za tri (to count for three)…
An interesting way to learn Slovene (and speak like Slovenians) is to know and understand how to use their idioms. And the day that you will actually be able to use an idiom correctly, you will be so proud!
Nositi hlače – To wear pants It means “to be in charge”, the one that makes the decision and has the last word. There is a similar expression in English “to wear the trousers” and in French “porter la culotte”.
Kapo dol – Hat down It means “bravo”, when you recognize someone’s achievements. The expression comes from the habit of taking the hat off as a sign or greeting or respect.
Gledati skozi rožnata očala – To see through rose-colored glasses It doesn’t refer to a fashion item, but it means to beautify something, like to see something more beautiful that it really is. Just like the French expression “voir la vie en rose”.
An interesting way to learn and understand Slovene is through its local idioms. While using them, you get to speak like Slovenians and get an insight of the heritage and culture.
Beliti si glavo – To whiten your head It doesn’t mean to paint your head in white, but to think about something very hard in order to remember it (so much that you might grow some white hairs…).
Iz te moke ne bo kruha – From this flour there will be no bread As we know, flour is needed to make bread, but also other ingredients and actions (such as kneading and baking) as well. It means that not every effort will yield the expected result.
Nositi vodo v Savo – To bring water in Sava Sava is a river that goes through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. Bringing water to Sava, means that all efforts made no difference.
I’m super happy that I won the first prize! Hopefully I will be able to attend another course soon and start improving my Slovene! A few years back, I’ve already went to two of their courses and it was awesome! So, I can only highly recommend them!
An interesting and playful way to discover Slovene as a language is by learning the idioms. Some doesn’t seem to make much sense at first, but what’s more significant is to understand the meaning behind the words!
Imeti maslo na glavi – To have butter on the head It doesn’t actually mean to have butter on the head, but instead, it means to be guilty of something – like to have a guilty conscience.
Skakati čez plot – To jump over the fence It doesn’t refer to an innocent athletics action as to jump over the fence, but it actually means to be cheating in marriage. s not to jump “over” the fence, just across the fence, which means to
Ugrizniti v kislo jabolko – To bite into a sour apple It is obviously not very pleasant to bite into a sour apple instead of a sweet one – it means having to deal with something unpleasant or to go ahead and “bite the bullet”.
A casual and engaging method to learn Slovene is to master the Slovenian idioms. Knowing the theory is one thing, but actually applying it is another. But the day that you will, you can be very proud!
Zaradi dreves ne videti gozda – Because of the trees, can’t see the forest Personally, I think that this idiom is beautifully so written. It means that if you look at each tree individually, then you can’t see the larger forest (which is formed by trees). The deeper meaning is that because of individuality, you lose the perception of a whole.
Rasti kot gobe (po dežju) – To grow like mushrooms (after the rain) With some imagination, I find this idiom very amusing. The meaning points at a very very fast growth (or multiplication), like mushrooms after the rain. It can be use to describe a massive crowd of tourists during holidays, or money after an excellent investment.
Govoriti kot dež – To talk like the rain How does the rain talk, like a quiet mist or a crazy deluge? In this case, it means to talk at a very fast rate or to talk a lot – so, the latter one. You can try to imagine a sudden downpour of heavy rain… but made of words.
It’s amazing how you can encounter and learn Slovenian idioms everywhere, everyday!
A while ago, there was a Belgian movie on TV. Unfortunately, it was late and I actually didn’t watch the movie… but the Slovenian title really caught my attention. And it happened to be an idiom!
Ponoči je vsaka krava črna– At night, all cows are black. It sounds so logic, right? What I found funny is that “cows” would be used instead of “cats”.
The original French title is “Tous les chats sont gris“, which comes from the expression “La nuit, tous les chat sont gris” – “At night, all cats are grey”. Which means that, in the dark, physical appearance is not that important. It also means that, sometimes, depending on the circumstances, to be satisfied with something of lesser quality.
It is true that at night, all cows are black. Therefore, ponoči je vsaka krava črna.
Every language has idioms and expressions, Slovene is no different. Compared to grammar, learning idioms is a funnier and more practical way to use daily Slovene. It is also a creative way to get familiar with the Slovenian culture and heritage!
Odkriti Ameriko – To discover America It doesn’t mean to go on a trip to America as a trip, but like Columbus: to discover something new.
Španska vas – Spanish village Where exactly do you look for a Spanish village on a map? Actually, it doesn’t refer to a specific place, but somewhere that is completely unknown (to you).
Narediti se Francoza – To make oneself French It doesn’t refer to getting a French citizenship or residency, not even having the lifestyle of a French. It simply means to do something stupid or to act indifferent.
The audio file is a courtesy of my friend Jure from Slovenian Word Of The Day. You can listen to his explanation of vocabulary words, such as vas, on his website.
The best way to understand and remember Slovenian idioms is to integrate and use them in every day situations, when possible and appropriate.
For example, one afternoon, my daughter woke up from her nap and my mother-in-law smiled and said to her:
Gledaš kot miška iz moke – You look like a mouse from the flour When I heard it the first time, I was like… What?! The image that instantly pooped into my mind: all white and two little black eyes. It’s a cute way to say that she just woke up and all we could see were her tiny eyes.
Another day, my daughter was playing on her play mat and we heard “puu-pu-pu” then my mother-in-law laughed and said:
hahaha stresaš orehe – hahaha you are dropping nuts I was like… Uh, did I understanding it right?! Because, sometimes some Slovene words just sound very similar. I understood it right, and it really means “dropping nuts”. What an adorable way to say that she farted. 😛
I can’t wait to find out more cute and adorable idioms to use with children!