OT: "sour lesson" a calque of German idiom?

Chris Waigl chris at LASCRIBE.NET
Fri Jul 24 21:12:39 UTC 2009

On 24 Jul 2009, at 21:35, Amy West wrote:

> I have a native German speaker in a class, and she just used the
> phrase "sour lesson" in an assignment. ("The Little Red Hen teaches
> her friends a sour lesson by eating the bread herself.") Is this a
> calque of a German idiom? (I haven't a dictionary of German idioms at
> hand, otherwise I'd check.) If so, is it "saure Lehre"? Is it perhaps
> just a substitution of "sour" for "bitter" in "bitter lesson"?

I'd personally choose, in approximate order of preference (leaving
aside contexts that would make me prefer one over the others):

- eine harte Lehre
- eine bittere Lehre
- eine teure Lehre

I find one Google example for "eine saure Lehre", which is not in my
idiom. German is, however, rich in regionalisms. Why don't you ask her?


Chris Waigl

Chris Waigl -- http://chryss.eu -- http://eggcorns.lascribe.net
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