Idiom translations into signed languages...

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Thu Jan 4 17:03:37 UTC 2007

SignWriting List
January 4, 2007

Ha! These messages about American idioms are wonderful and very funny!

In Denmark years ago, I tried to learn some Danish idioms. If you  
tried to translate those Danish idioms word-for-word into English,  
they sounded so funny!

The famous one, for foreigners like me to learn is:

Like That Is It So Much

which means "That's the way it goes" or "That's the way it is" or  

Another Danish one could be translated as: I get up in the morning  
before the Devil gets a chance to get his shoes on...which means it  
is very early in the morning!

Years ago, a friend of mine who is an interpreter and skilled in  
SignWriting...she wrote a whole bunch of English idioms in ASL...she  
translated the English idioms meanings into ASL as best as possible,  
and wrote them in SignWriting...too bad that was done before  
computers and all written by hand, or I could share it with you...and  
I don't even have a copy at the moment...

That kind of an Idioms dictionary in different signed languages could  
be a useful tool someday...we could create a SignBank just for an  
Idioms dictionary...

and yes...Cherie...I am happy you want to learn SignBank...that could  
be our Lessons for March, 2007...

Val ;-)

On Jan 4, 2007, at 6:47 AM, CWren at wrote:

> The (American) South is full of really bizarre idioms.  Since I  
> have moved here, I have started collecting them.   I think my  
> favorite is "That room is so small you couldn't cuss a cat in it  
> without getting hair in your teeth."
> ---------------------------------
> Cherie Wren
> GSD Staff Interpreter
> 232 Perry Farm Rd
> Cave Spring, GA 30124
> 706-777-2328
> 706-766-0766 Cell
> This message and any included attachments are from the Georgia  
> School for the Deaf and are intended only for the addressee(s). The  
> information contained herein may include privileged or otherwise  
> confidential information. If you have received this message in  
> error, please contact the sender immediately, and delete it from  
> your system.
> "Neil Bauman" <neil at HEARINGLOSSHELP.COM>
> Sent by: owner-sw-l at
> 01/04/2007 09:30 AM
> Please respond to
> sw-l at
> To
> sw-l at
> cc
> Subject
> Re: AW: [sw-l] Chicken Scratch
> Hi Cherie:
> >I always heard that referred to as "chicken feed"  ::grin::   I get
> >paid 'chicken feed' to work here at GSD.  I also heard the idiom
> >derived from the old days where employers might pay the workers in
> >barter... so they might actually get paid in =real= chicken feed,
> >(as opposed to cow feed, which would be worth more?). Today it just
> >means 'pay next to nothing'.
> Just shows how things change over time and from one part of the
> country to another. I heard this where I grew up in western Canada.
> The chickens scratch to get their food--so either works.
> Another thing, we wouldn't have said "chicken scratch" for slopping
> writing, we'd have said "chicken tracks". Again slight differences in
> different parts of the country.
> But they all mean basically the same. Such is the diversity and
> richness (and confusion) of English.
> Regards
>                                         Neil
> Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
> Center for Hearing Loss Help
> 49 Piston Court
> Stewartstown, PA 17363
> Phone: (717) 993-8555
> FAX: (717) 993-6661
> Email: neil at
> Website:

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