I’ve interpreted lots of difficult speeches as an interpreter, some packed full of statistics, others read out at speed. And sometimes all in the same speech. Definitely one of those days when you reach for an extra coffee during the break.
I’ve also coped with background noise from coughing colleagues or creaky booth doors.
But what keeps me awake at night? Idioms. Or as they’re charmingly known in French, “idiotismes”.
Ok, I’ve been known to frown when I hear the speaker utter the dreaded words, “This reminds me of a joke…” but I thought it would be easier to learn idioms than jokes, so to avoid further sleepless nights I’ve decided to start a blog. Here’s how it will work.
I’ll choose a French idiom from those I’ve interpreted before or from one of my weighty idiom dictionaries. I’ll give an English definition and explain the origins of each phrase. I’ll also throw in some related phrases and unusual words with their French or English equivalent. Easy as pie! Or as they say in France, C’est du gâteau!
So here goes with our first idiom, and it has a distinctly cheesy flavour: en faire tout un fromage / to make a big deal out of; to make a song and dance about
The food theme came to me as I read that a Cornish blue cheese has been declared the best cheese in the world. I know British cheeses are good but was surprised not to see a French cheese receive this award.
I then found out that France has also received a gastronomic gong, with UNESCO declaring French cuisine a “world intangible heritage”. A lovely title that essentially means eating in a French restaurant is a cultural experience not to be missed.
Something for gastronomes from both sides of the Channel to celebrate then.
But I imagine there are some brie or munster producers who think the Brits are making a big deal out of this. Indeed they may say they are making a right cheese out of their cheese award.
While there may well be a demand for making cheese out of cheese awards but I’m not sure the idea will catch on. It certainly wouldn’t be too kind on your teeth.
In fact those French cheese producers would simply be using the French idiom for “to make a big deal out of” or “to make a song and dance about”.
So there you go. Cheese is a true superfood. It can be eaten, used in idioms and can even win awards. If you’re Cornish that is.