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”.
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.
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!
A great way to discover and integrated into the Slovenian culture is through its idioms. And they are everywhere in my daily life.
Recently, we’ve been doing some significant shopping and indeed, price, quality and needs are three important factors. Then, the other day, my husband told me:
Nisem dovolj bogat, da bi poceni kupoval – I am not rich enough that I would buy cheap things At first, I found it quite contradictory because, logically, if you are tight on money, you would tend buy cheaper things, no?
But what we should really understand from it is that “I am not rich enough that I can afford to buy it again”, with the logic that “cheaper” things are not good quality and will break faster, thus needing to be replace.
Therefore, nisem dovolj bogata da, bi poceni kupovala.
A fun way to explore the Slovenian culture is by getting familiar with its idioms, which is the essence of the language. Through the idioms, we can understand part of the Slovenian culture and heritage.
Kaditi kot Turek – To smoke like a Turk It doesn’t point at a manner or any special way that a Turk smokes – it simply means to smoke a lot!
Brez muje se še čevelj ne obuje – Without effort you can’t put a shoes on To achieve anything, it requires some efforts (even the simple task of putting a shoe on).
Biti copata – To be a slipper (What can being a slipper possibly mean… 😛 ) In Slovene, “being a slipper” is used to describe someone who is submissive or bent at will.
One fun way to advance or master Slovene (or any new language) is to understand and use its idioms or expressions like the locals.
Konjiček – Pony It can mean pony (the animal), but usually it refers to a hobby. So, be careful of how you will answer when asked “kateri je tvoj najljubši konjiček?” – “which is your favorite pony?” 😛
Imeti krompir– To have a potato It can actually mean that you own a potato, but when locals say it, it means to have luck or to be lucky (imeti srečo).
Tih kot miš – Quiet like a mouse Same as in English, it means that someone is very quiet and makes no noise.
An interesting way to discover Slovenia is through its idioms. Learning, understanding and using them are great ways to immerse into the Slovenian culture!
Zdrav kot ribav vodi – Healthy like a fish in the water It simply means “very healthy and lively” – like a fish in the water.
Chinese equivalent: “龍馬精神 – long ma jing shen”, which means to be full of energy.
— French dissimilarity: “Être comme un poisson dans l’eau”, which means to be perfectly comfortable in a given situation.
Ne vreči puške v koruzo – Don’t throw the gun in the cornfield It means “don’t give up” – like when a hunter goes on a hunt, but hasn’t catch anything yet, he shouldn’t throw his gun away, in case some prey would come by!
Imeti slovnico v malem prstu – To have the grammar in the little finger
It means to know very well your grammar – study well and practice often, we known how Slovene grammar can be tricky and one day you will be able to say “Imam slovnico v malem prstu“!
Mastering a language’s idioms (sayings, proverbs, expressions) is embracing its culture and traditions, as well as discovering the very essence of the language – learning Slovene is also understanding and using Slovenian idioms! ❤
Živeti na koruzi – To live in the cornfield It means “to live together in cohabitation” without being formally married, only for couples – it doesn’t actually mean camping in some cornfield.
Šel je po gobe – Went for mushrooms It can actually be used to express that someone went pickup some mushrooms in the forest, but the locals might misunderstand that the person has passed away… so be careful with this phrase.
Nedeljski vozniki – the Sunday’s drivers
It doesn’t refer to people who are on the road during Sundays – at least not literally, it actually means that the driver doesn’t drive very often (and has poor driving skills) and he usually drives when the traffic is more quiet (like on Sundays).