heel to toe

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Sirius77, Nov 16, 2017.

  1. Sirius77

    Sirius77 Senior Member

    Turkish
    Hi,

    Does "heel to toe" got an idiomatic meaning?

    For example when climbing a ladder someone says "we climbed heel to toe".

    If you need the rest:
    "We climbed heel to toe, the armchair between us, to the last rung, next to the opening." (R. Matalon, The Sound of Our Steps).
     
  2. nikette New Member

    English - Canada
    hey, if it does i think it would suggest something logically done from start to finish
     
  3. Sirius77

    Sirius77 Senior Member

    Turkish
    that makes sense, thank you.
     
  4. The Newt

    The Newt Senior Member

    USA / EEUU
    English - US
    I gather that two people are climbing a ladder while carrying the armchair. The idea may be that one person's toe is placed right below the heel of the person who is climbing first, but it's a little hard to picture. In any case, I think it's meant literally.
     
  5. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    London
    British English
    You gave us no context.:eek: A quote is not a context. Who is doing what? What has an armchair to do with it?
     
  6. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    It doesn't sound like a very good use of "heel to toe" to me. I see it's a book by an Israeli author translated into English by another Israeli.
     
  7. Sirius77

    Sirius77 Senior Member

    Turkish
    You are right Myridon, it's a translation of an Israeli author by an Israeli translator.

    Hermione I gave you context. Armchair really does not contribute to the meaning of heel to toe.

    Newt, in this case it may mean "we climbed very close". That is possible. Thank you.
     
  8. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    Two people climbing a ladder very close together would have one person's head near the other person's feet. Their feet would be a body length apart, not literally heel to toe - their feet close to each other.
    Adding in this mysterious floating? ladder-climbing? armchair and the scene becomes somewhat unbelievable.
     
  9. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    Heel to toe sounds like an extremely complicated climbing method, laborious, I might say even risky. :D
     
  10. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    It all seems pretty unlikely to me too:( - I can't picture any way that two people could climb a ladder 'heel to toe'.

    I couldn't find the quoted sentence in the Google Books copy of the novel. Could you tell us some more about the situation, Sirius, and give us the two sentences that immediately precede this one and the sentence that follows?
     
  11. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    Well, all I can picture is the two persons trying to stand on the same step at the same time, one almost carrying the other on his back. That seems laborious and risky, especially with a whole armchair between them :D It is a good suicide recipe...
     
  12. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    I'm guessing the writer meant "head to toe", as in close together (the lower person's head being close to the higher person's toes/feet) and ended up writing "heel" instead.
     
  13. ain'ttranslationfun? Senior Member

    US English
    And Welcome, nikette!

    Maybe they were cimbing side-by-side with the armchair between them so that the heels of one person were on the same rung as the toes of the other. It does sound awkward and risky, though.
     
  14. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    London
    British English
    You did not give context.
    Why are you asking us about meaning if you are so sure of yourself and your understanding?
     
  15. nikette New Member

    English - Canada
    thanks! :)

    lots of good ideas on this
     
  16. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    The sentence does provide context (surrounding text) for the phrase, but context (surrounding text) for the sentence would also help. Some explanation of the situation would also be good.
     
  17. Sirius77

    Sirius77 Senior Member

    Turkish
    I am noting this "heel to toe" among the ones I'll check with the Hebrew. Thanks a lot for your help.
     
  18. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Yes, I see that in another of your threads on this book (hair would grow on the palms of my hands), the source of an unusual turn of phrase in English was in fact a Hebrew idiom. It may well be that something similar is going on here.

    Google throws up the following possibly-relevant snippets:
    Let us know what you find out in your researches!
     
  19. Sirius77

    Sirius77 Senior Member

    Turkish
    Hi Loob,
    That's why I asked it in the Hebrew forum and found the answer there. Maybe I should have asked "heel to toe" there as well. I could get an answer before Cagey moves it:(

    Your "heel to toe" sources are incredible, how couldn't I find it. So it means slowly. Many many thanks. :):):):tick:
     
  20. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    No, it doesn't. It may mean that in Hebrew, but it is not an English idiom and the phrase "heel to toe" has only a literal meaning to English speakers. That makes "we climbed the ladder heel to toe" impossible.
     
  21. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    I agree.
    But at least he now knows how to translate it from Hebrew, if he has to. :D
    ...thanks to Loob :)
     
  22. Sirius77

    Sirius77 Senior Member

    Turkish
    yes it does Andygc, because there are other Hebrew idioms in the text which the translator didn't bother to adopt to the English speakers culture. Thanks all and mostly to Loob.
     
  23. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    No, it doesn't. It is meaningless to an English speaker. A translation that retains literal translations of foreign idioms is an inadequate translation because it does not provide the reader with the intended meaning. In English "heel to toe" and "heel by toe" do not mean "slowly" or "slowly and carefully".
     
  24. Sirius77

    Sirius77 Senior Member

    Turkish
    I agree with that.
     
  25. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    It really is meaningless, Sirius. When I tried to imagine it, I pictured something absurd. Or funny. :)
     

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