To mark its launch, creative translation agency Franklyfluent has teamed up with illustrator Genevieve Edwards to produce a series of vibrant illustrations celebrating the weird and wonderful world of foreign language sayings.


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A friendly group, each one of the five illustrations represents an oddly amusing idiom from a different corner of the world – from Slovenia’s 300 hairy bears to Japanese monkeys, franklyfluent takes a look at the delicate task of translating from one culture to another.

You might overhear this peculiar saying on a stroll through the Slovenian countryside, though it’s nothing to do with the resident population of brown bears – it’s an expression of surprise. But holy moly! We wouldn’t expect you to get that from a literal translation alone.

This Japanese adage is a reminder that everyone slips up from time to time. But the literal translation left us thinking there was monkey business afoot.

Though not renowned for their luscious locks, giraffe combing is said to be the most pointless task a Frenchman can imagine. Perhaps that’s how the expression came to mean ‘wasting your time’… But the literal translation left us flummoxed.

Through Neapolitan piazzas and the rolling hills of Tuscany, these are the peculiar words Italians use to wish a pal good luck. ‘Break a leg’ is more the sort of thing we Anglophones would reach for. But you couldn’t have guessed that from the literal translation, could you?

When a German sees a pig whistling his reaction isn’t incredulity, as ours might be if we saw one in flight. He’s just thinking: ‘how extraordinarily surprising’. Or ‘blow me down’ as we might say. But you’d be forgiven for being confused if we left the translation word for word.