Conosco i miei polli

  • moodywop

    Banned
    Italian - Italy
    As far as I know "I know my chicken" only has a literal meaning.

    Paravia gives "I know who I'm dealing with". Garzanti "I know what they can get up to/what they're like". So it would appear that there's no idiomatic phrase similar to the Italian one. Maybe we should give non-natives some examples of how it's used.

    A fellow teacher asks me to leave my class and help him in the lab. I tell him I don't want to leave the kids unattended. He looks at the little angels and says "It shouldn't be a problem.They look well-behaved". I might reply "Conosco i miei polli. Non posso lasciarli soli neanche (per) un minuto".

    EDIT: If Giannaclaudia and TimeHP have heard it then I must be wrong. Let's see what the madrelingua have to say
     

    GavinW

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't think there is an equivalent in English. I've always translated it literally and used it ironically, just because the meaning i transparent anyway and as a way of crediting Italian with an expression which should exist in English but apparently does not.

    Having said that, depending on context, one could probably come up with a similar, probably non-idiomatic translation for each situation, but no catch-all comes to mind.
     

    moodywop

    Banned
    Italian - Italy
    GavinW said:
    I don't think there is an equivalent in English. I've always translated it literally and used it ironically, just because the meaning i transparent anyway and as a way of crediting Italian with an expression which should exist in English but apparently does not.

    Having said that, depending on context, one could probably come up with a similar, probably non-idiomatic translation for each situation, but no catch-all comes to mind.

    Welcome back, Gavin!:) Your input was badly missed (you're the closest to bilingual we have on this forum). So how do you translate it literally/ironically? "I know my chickens/hens/roosters", depending on context?:)
     

    giacinta

    Senior Member
    English
    In Australian English we might say "he knows his onions". It means " he knows what's best for him" "he knows how to look after himself". But you would never say " I know my onions"

    Australians are very strange people, I have just realised!

    Giacinta
     

    GavinW

    Senior Member
    British English
    moodywop said:
    Welcome back, Gavin!:) Your input was badly missed (you're the closest to bilingual we have on this forum). So how do you translate it literally/ironically? "I know my chickens/hens/roosters", depending on context?:)

    It's nice to be back [especially to hear such praise, however exaggerated...!].

    Actually, I just meant that sometimes, for fun, I like to say "I know my chickens", with an implicit nod in the direction of Italian. It's not an idiom in English, it's a translation of an Italian idiom. But, funnily enough, a lot of people, even people who don't pick up on the reference to another (specific) language, recognize the idiomatic content and get the meaning. Which is why I use it.

    Giacinta: I do wish Australians would stop doing themselves down ;-)
    The phrase is dead right BritEng too. Nice one.

    To recap: nothing nice comes to mind in the case of, for example, the school-teacher leaving the kids unminded in class; all I can think of is something bland like: "I know what they're like"; "I know what they (can) get up to"; [more formal, less appropriate:] "I know what they're capable of".
     

    robertot

    Senior Member
    Italian
    All right. It is a pity there isn't such a colourful idiom in English.
    We might lobby all together in order to make "I know my chickens" enter the english vocabulary :)
     

    _forumuser_

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Here is another idiom I use all the time in IT. In EN I have been using a literal translation (I love my hens/chickens) for some time, but I feel it's now time to move on to an actual idiom... Conosco i miei polli means that a breeder knows her animals (the people around her) well.

    Sample conversation:

    Ma che te lo fa pensare? (What makes you think that?)
    Fidati, conosco i miei polli... (Trust me, I know my hens)
     

    rocamadour

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Ciao forumuser! :)
    Io sul Garzanti ho trovato due traduzioni della frase idiomatica "conoscere i propri polli": to know one's customers e to be nobody's fool. Però a dirti la verità credo di non averle mai sentite né lette...:confused:
     

    TimLA

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Ciao a tutti.
    This is a tough one. There was a discussion HERE and there was no real concensus regarding reasonable equivalents. I'll throw some others out:

    I know what I'm up against.
    I know the way they think.
    I know what I'm doing.
    I know what they are up to.

    These are in no way idioms like the "polli", but they are reasonably common. I'm sure others will extend this discussion.
     

    lsp

    Senior Member
    NY
    US, English
    "I know whereof I speak" (trust me, I know what I'm talking about here).

    EDIT, reading the other thread, it seems I'm wrong, Does the focus needs to be on the "players" on the other side?
     

    rocamadour

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Ciao a tutti.
    This is a tough one. There was a discussion HERE and there was no real concensus regarding reasonable equivalents. I'll throw some others out:

    I know what I'm up against.
    I know the way they think.:tick:
    I know what I'm doing.
    I know what they are up to.:tick:

    These are in no way idioms like the "polli", but they are reasonably common. I'm sure others will extend this discussion.

    I've always used this idiom in the meanings n.2 and n.4...
     

    TiaMia

    Member
    US-English
    Some other possibilities might be:

    "I know it like the back of my hand" (usually used more in the context of being very familiar with something or place, eg.: when driving, someone might ask "Do you know where you're going?" and you would reply "I know this place like the back of my hand")

    "I know him/her/them better than I know myself"
     

    rocamadour

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Some other possibilities might be:

    "I know it like the back of my hand" (usually used more in the context of being very familiar with something or place, eg.: when driving, someone might ask "Do you know where you're going?" and you would reply "I know this place like the back of my hand")

    "I know him/her/them better than I know myself"

    ... Yes, but in this case we would translate "Lo conosco come le mie tasche".
     

    _forumuser_

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thanks everybody, and sorry for posting a question that had already been asked. But on the other hand it did elicit some valuable new responses. :) Frankly the translation that seems to fit best is the one Gavin gave in the other thread:

    I know what they are/can be capable of...

    But I would boost up the slang factor as in:

    I know what the little demons/rascals/bastards are capable of (cheeky kids)
    I know what the bastards/f!@#*s are capable of (nasty colleagues)
    I know what the girl is capable of (of wife/partner/girl-friend)

    and so forth. Do you agree?
     

    lsp

    Senior Member
    NY
    US, English
    Thanks, lsp. Just for precision's sake, doesn't I'm on to you mean I know what you have in mind, what you are up to, what your real intentions are?

    Yes, you're absolutely right. It came to me when I read "I know what they are/can be capable of..."
     

    _forumuser_

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I see. Thanks again. ;)

    "I know whereof I speak" (trust me, I know what I'm talking about here).

    EDIT, reading the other thread, it seems I'm wrong, Does the focus needs to be on the "players" on the other side?

    No, you are right, the focus is on the speaker knowing full well what she is talking about, i.e. how her hens usually behave and how they are likely to behave in this circumstance too.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    This website translates it with "I know my chicken". I do have some vague recollection of hearing the expression in this context many years ago. The reference is obviously to cooked chicken, not while they're running around in the back garden or farm.
     

    eurocristall

    New Member
    italian italy
    L'italiano pollo inteso come babbeo, sempliciotto, spesso e' tradotto in inglese come "sucker" cioè uno che abbocca, che ci casca.

    Famosa e' l'espressione "there is a sucker born every minute"

    Io credo si potrebbe tradurre "I know who the suckers are"

    Molto utilizzati sono i termini DUPE e PIGEON. Forse visto che quest'ultimo e' un volatile dire "I know my pigeons" potrebbe essere la traduzione che piu' si avvicina anche come associazione d'idee all'italiano
     

    Azazel81

    Senior Member
    Italy - Italian
    Io credo si potrebbe tradurre "I know who the suckers are"

    Ma io direi "anche no!" :D

    Per un motivo molto semplice: l'espressione "conosco i miei polli" non ha niente a che vedere con "babbei/sempliciotti/ecc...".

    Se ti rileggi i vari post del thread capirai che hai frainteso parecchio.
     

    Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    One that can sometimes work is "If I know my man".

    If I know my man, he won't be at the party but will be at home watching the match with a cold beer in his hand.

    It's not exactly the same, but maybe it'll stimulate some other ideas...
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    One that can sometimes work is "If I know my man".

    If I know my man, he won't be at the party but will be at home watching the match with a cold beer in his hand.

    It's not exactly the same, but maybe it'll stimulate some other ideas...
    "If I know my......." works quite well I think, Einstein.

    "If I know my wife/girl/daughter/son/students etc...."
     

    Azazel81

    Senior Member
    Italy - Italian
    But then again we've lost the symmetry here... I mean... In Italian we use the word "polli"... "chickens".

    So do we just assume there's no parallel expression in English? I mean, with the whole "animal" symmetry?
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    But then again we've lost the symmetry here... I mean... In Italian we use the word "polli"... "chickens".

    So do we just assume there's no parallel expression in English? I mean, with the whole "animal" symmetry?
    If only language fitted into neat little boxes, it would make learning them so much easier! I think that if it conveys the meaning, it doesn't really matter.

    I did make reference to one related to chicken in Post 28, but I think very few people have heard it.
     

    TimLA

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I know of no well-known example in AE that would use animals.

    I suppose it would be possible in very specific contexts.

    If you have a bunch of people following you around all day, you can refer to them as "ducklings", and you might say;
    If I know my ducklings, they'll be coming around the corner about now.

    The same could be said of "herd"/"animals"/"retriever" and many other context-specific animals,
    but the use of the animal wouldn't be dependent on the "If I know my...", it would be based on a different construction.
     

    Azazel81

    Senior Member
    Italy - Italian
    Yeah, sorry Charles. I didn't mean anything like that... The thing is: we were probably expecting it to have an equal/similar expression in English. But of course it's not always like that, and the same (sometimes) goes for English expression when translated into Italian.

    Anyway, like you said: it doesn't really matter as long as it conveys that same idea.
     

    GavinW

    Senior Member
    British English
    Animals? How about vegetables?

    "If I know my onions" comes to mind. I have a vague idea it matches a French expression ("Je connais mes oignons"), but I may be simply back-translating.
    This might work. Any confirmation, anyone?
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Animals? How about vegetables?

    "If I know my onions" comes to mind. I have a vague idea it matches a French expression ("Je connais mes oignons"), but I may be simply back-translating.
    This might work. Any confirmation, anyone?
    Gavin, that was suggested in Post 8, but I think that 'to know one's onions' which means to know one's subject or business thoroughly; be capable or proficient, is slightly different to 'conosco i miei polli', which by the definitions provided by moodywop in Post 4 are "I know who I'm dealing with" and "I know what they can get up to/what they're like".
     
    "I know who I'm dealing with" and "I know what they can get up to/what they're like", I know what to expect from them, for better or for worse.

    This is what it exactly means.
    When we say "conosco i miei polli", we want to reassure the person we're talking to, pointing out that we know what to do because we know very well the people we're dealing with.
     

    GavinW

    Senior Member
    British English
    This is what it exactly means.
    When we say "conosco i miei polli", we want to reassure the person we're talking to, pointing out that we know what to do because we know very well the people we're dealing with.

    Right. I guess it's pretty much like "so il fatto mio", with the specific reference to the fact we're talking about/dealing with people ("polli"), not things, nella fattispecie.
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    This is what it exactly means.
    When we say "conosco i miei polli", we want to reassure the person we're talking to, pointing out that we know what to do because we know very well the people we're dealing with.
    Which is slightly different to 'knowing one's onions', which basically means I know what I'm talking about. Knowledge about the people you are dealing with doesn't necessarily come into the equation.
     

    momo82

    New Member
    italiano
    Conosco i miei polli
    Is there in english something equivalent?

    Ciao, io credo che si possa rendere con "know your onions" sostituendo, cioè, i polli con le cipolle. questa espressione in inglese indica che si ha una particolare esperienza in qualcosa o che si conosce bene un argomento di cui si sta parlando.
     

    GavinW

    Senior Member
    British English
    Ciao, io credo che si possa rendere con "know your onions" sostituendo, cioè, i polli con le cipolle. questa espressione in inglese indica che si ha una particolare esperienza in qualcosa o che si conosce bene un argomento di cui si sta parlando.

    Did you read all the previous posts? This idea was suggested in post 8 and post 37 (by me), but it doesn't work, as demonstrated in posts 38 and 40 (and possibly elsewhere too, after post 8). Let's not go round in circles like headless... chickens! ;-)
     

    curiosone

    Senior Member
    AmE - hillbilly ;)
    Well, while we're all running around like chickens with their heads cut off,:D I'll confirm that (as Gavin mentioned in 2009?) I like the Italian expression so well that I simply translate it literally to the English: "I know my chickens." I find it colorful and humorous (or if you prefer: "colourful and humourous" ;)) in both languages. And I've never had difficulty in getting my meaning across.
     

    beacher

    Senior Member
    Veneto Dialect and Italian
    Guys hellooo :)
    I hope someone is still looking at this post. Just read it and remembered as an alternative solution: "This ain't my first rodeo".
    Maybe it coulde be rephrased to be adapted to the "teacher-kids" example above.

    Would you agree?
     

    Mary49

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Non credo sia la stessa cosa: This Ain't My First Rodeo "For the uninitiated, “This ain’t my first rodeo” is roughly equivalent to telling a person that you’re more than prepared for a given situation or that it offers little challenge to you. It’s more often than not used derisively, usually in situations where a more experienced person is being given unwanted or unwarranted advice by someone else".
     

    sorry66

    Senior Member
    English, England
    Some more suggestions to add to the pool:


    I've got their measure

    I know how they tick

    I know my punters/troops well (this one is not really an expression)

    I know them inside out
     

    Wankchops

    New Member
    English
    I don't think there is an equivalent in English. I've always translated it literally and used it ironically, just because the meaning i transparent anyway and as a way of crediting Italian with an expression which should exist in English but apparently does not.

    Having said that, depending on context, one could probably come up with a similar, probably non-idiomatic translation for each situation, but no catch-all comes to mind.
    There is an English equivalent but it is slightly vulgar. "I know my shit" is a similar phrase.
     

    GavinW

    Senior Member
    British English
    There is an English equivalent but it is slightly vulgar. "I know my shit" is a similar phrase.
    No, sorry, don't think that works. The meaning is different. If you know your :warning:sh*t, then you know a subject well, you have mastery of facts and information. If you "know your chickens", you're talking about people, not information (as explained in earlier posts).
     
    Top