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Rediscovering an idiom
Friday, August 31, 2007   2:22 PM

Work has been slow, and there are no mystery shops to unload down at the docks, so for the last two weeks I've been investigating new language blogs: The Engine Room and Bradshaw of the Future are the latest additions to my sidebar. Today I've been reading through Omniglot - the blog.

Where I was shocked to discover that Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof — German for "I only understand train station" — is a popular expression.

It's their version of "It's all Greek to me." I've been using it for years, but my high school German teacher introduced it to us as a joke, not an idiom. Since I was always the one saying it (for obvious reasons), I figured it was my teacher's invention. Omniglot has a whole list of equivalent phrases in other languages.

(Yes, their saying actually does work as a joke. The Germans clearly have the better idiom.)

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