Having learned the English language as an adult, it came with a lot of resistance from my first language; proactive interference. In addition, my brain questioned many idiomatic expressions (still does) trying to translate them and find meaning to the new information.
As simple as the F word (yes, I know. I should have never learned that) translated, it is vulgar, but it does not carry the same insulting power it does in English. It is rude but not insulting.
The biggest insult in my language, or at least the country where I am from, is S.O.B. That would be the equivalent in impact to the F word. However, translated to English, it is vulgar, but it does not carry the same affect as it does for me.
Aside from bad words, phrasal verbs gave me the most grief. I still struggle with them as it is noticed in my writing.
Slow down to me meant slow and then go down, it made no sense.
Turn up and turn on were the same. Call in, call off, call up…it’s about calling, isn’t it?
Put in, put down, put up, put off…something is being put somewhere.
What made it more difficult as it is in any language, are the idiomatic expressions:
- Beating around the bushes –why would you even be doing that?
- Flat out like a lizard drinking – didn’t know lizards shared my taste for wine.
- Break a leg – that is supposed to be encouragement. What a way to wish someone good luck by break a bone.
- A bone to pick – If I’m going to share a bone with someone to eat, that makes me think we are close, intimate enough to share one bone. Instead it means discussing something that annoyed me.
- Mum’s the word – I still don’t get that one.