It's all Greek to me

Jana337

Senior Member
čeština
Hi everyone,

what’s the equivalent and the English translation of “it’s all Greek to me” in your mother tongue? This could evolve into a nice exercise in geography.

The Germans have “böhmische Dörfer”, Bohemian villages (Bohemia is the western part of the Czech Republic and constitutes some 2/3 of the country’s area).

We Czechs (as well as the Slovaks to my knowledge), in turn, associate the absolute lack of comprehensibility with Spanish villages but don’t ask me why!

To je pro mne španělská vesnice. This is a Spanish village to me.



I pass the baton to the Spanish foreros. Comments of anyone else are naturally welcome, too.



Let’s travel around the globe!



Jana
 
  • belén

    Senior Member
    Spanish, Spain, Catalan, Mallorca
    Well in Spanish we usually say:
    Esto me suena a chino, no me hables en chino
    It sounds Chinese to me, don't speak in Chinese ...

    Cheers from a Spanish village (well a big village, la Villa de Madrid :))

    PS: I love Kundera so much... I envy you are able to read him in the original language...
     

    Carlos Martínez Riera

    Senior Member
    Spain / Spanish
    belen said:
    Well in Spanish we usually say:
    Esto me suena a chino, no me hables en chino
    It sounds Chinese to me, don't speak in Chinese ...
    True... chines is the most popular reference.
    We also use 'Arameo', Arameic, as an impossible language.

    Carlos
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Dalian

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    well, I can't think of any equivalent of "it's all Greek to me." in Chinese. Is it because Chinese is itself difficult enough as cited in your posts?:)

    but sometimes if we come across something hard to read or understand, we call it "tian shu" (heavenly script). we don't refer to any real language in the world, generally.
     

    Ralf

    Senior Member
    German
    Jana337 said:
    The Germans have “böhmische Dörfer”, Bohemian villages ...
    Apart from those 'Bohemian villages' we also say "Das kommt mir Spanisch vor" - "that's Spanish to me" which is used when so. feels the vague suspicion that his/her lack of comprehension is caused (combined or intenisified) by a false presumption or explanation.

    By the way, it's a nice thread. Thanks a lot, Jana.

    Ralf
     

    Philippa

    Senior Member
    Britain - English
    belen said:
    Well in Spanish we usually say:
    Esto me suena a chino, no me hables en chino
    It sounds Chinese to me, don't speak in Chinese ...
    Hello Be
    Do you also say something with 'basico' in it?
    It's all greek to me - Todo es chino basico para mí.

    Love Philippa :)
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    ^There is another expression for something that may be incomprehensible, but is stated in lovely words, and sounds quite eloquent...."Me suena palmípedo."
    Is that a common expression, or is it from some arcane dialect?

    C.
     

    dimitra

    Senior Member
    Greece, Greek
    Hello all!

    In Greece, since we would be considered very bloated to say that "it's all Greek to us" (thus, we can understand everything?!?!?!?!?!?!), we also say "it's chinese to me". :)
     

    Tede

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I thought it was kind of interesting that this phrase seems ubiquitous, but different in every language. We of course say "it's Greek to me", but in German you say "it's Spanish to me" and in Italian "it's Arabic to me". Those of you that speak Spanish, French, etc, what phrase do these languages use?
     

    ~PiCHi~

    Senior Member
    Mexico (Spanish)
    Well, in spanish it could be "Me suena como griego" Or "Para mí que es Griego"
    But I'm not sure of what you're trying to say :confused:
     

    Like an Angel

    Senior Member
    Argentina - Spanish
    Tede said:
    I thought it was kind of interesting that this phrase seems ubiquitous, but different in every language. We of course say "it's Greek to me", but in German you say "it's Spanish to me" and in Italian "it's Arabic to me". Those of you that speak Spanish, French, etc, what phrase do these languages use?
    Hi Tede!

    In Argentina we literally say "Basic Chinese" that means "chino básico" just stressing the idea that is too hard for me but, we could use it as "It's Chinese for me"...:)

    I'm sorry for my English, I'm learning it!
     

    manuycacu

    Senior Member
    Argentina - Spanish
    Philippa said:
    Do you also say something with 'basico' in it?
    It's all greek to me - Todo es chino basico para mí.
    Yes, when we find something extremely difficult to understand we say: "¡esto es chino básico!"
     

    Milja

    Member
    Finland, Finnish
    In Finnish we refer to the Hebrew language saying 'it's totally Hebrew to me' ... as is Finnish to most foreign people. :)
     

    badger

    Senior Member
    Ireland, English speaker
    Hi everyone.

    Here in Dublin we sometimes say "It's double Dutch to me".

    This can refer to another language, or even English if it's very technical or ambiguous.

    badge.
     

    Tabac

    Senior Member
    U. S. - English
    Like an Angel said:
    In Argentina we literally say "Basic Chinese" that means "chino básico" just stressing the idea that is too hard for me but, we could use it as "It's Chinese for me"...:)
    I'm told by a Greek friend of mine that the expression in Greek uses 'Chinese', as well.
     

    charlie2

    Senior Member
    I speak Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese only) and I am not aware of any similar stock expressions in Chinese. It makes me wonder why. Perhaps that doesn't mean that the others don't know any. I am curious to know.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Sev said:
    In french we also say "C'est du chinois !"
    German:

    Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof. = It's [all] Greek to me.

    Literally: "I understand only 'train-staion' "

    NO idea where that came from, but I've seen it and heard it. :)

    Another:

    Das kommt mir spanisch vor. Loosely: It's all Spanish to me. :)

    No offense to those who speak Spanish please!
     

    muspara

    New Member
    Israel, USA Hebrew/English
    Milja said:
    In Finnish we refer to the Hebrew language saying 'it's totally Hebrew to me' ... as is Finnish to most foreign people. :)
    I know this thread is very old, but I only discovered it now.

    If "it's all Hebrew" to you, I just wanted to note that in modern Hebrew we also say "it's Chinese as far as I'm concerned".

    I don't think Chinese is mentioned terribly often in the old testament, so I would guess the source is Russian or Argentinian immigration waves in Israel.
     

    Like an Angel

    Senior Member
    Argentina - Spanish
    Dalian said:
    but sometimes if we come across something hard to read or understand, we call it "tian shu" (heavenly script). we don't refer to any real language in the world, generally.
    Then the hardest language on earth is Chinesse, after it just God is the hardest one :D... intresting, I like that "tian shu" :)
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    In Portuguese, we can say "Greek" or "Chinese":

    É grego para mim. / É chinês para mim.
     
    Hello everyone,

    Whenever we don't understand something in the U.S. we say "It's all Greek to me". For this thread please provide the following:

    1. The name of your country.
    2. The equivalent nationality used along with the phrase in your language. I know in Germany and in other countries that they use a different nationality other than Greek but I cannot remember what it is. I believe the Germans say "It's all English to me." and the Spaniards say "It's all French to me." or some equivalent. However, I could be mistaken. I have always found these to be interesting.
    3. Why you think that nationality was chosen by your country.

    I look forward to your replies.

    drei
     

    cameo

    Member
    Chinese, Taiwan
    1. As you can see I'm from Taiwan.
    2. We say "It's all Spanish to me."
    3. I don't know why. Maybe my fellow Taiwanese can give us a reason.
     

    Shu_Fen

    Member
    Cantonese / Hong Kong, China
    Czech: To je pro mě španělská vesnice ("It's a Spanish village to me")

    French: c'est de l'hébreu pour moi ("It's Hebrew to me")/c'est du chinois pour moi ("It's Chinese to me")

    German: Das kommt mir spanisch vor ("It seems Spanish to me")

    Greek: Είναι κινέζικα για μένα (Eínai kínezika jia ména; "It's Chinese to me")

    Hungarian: Ez nekem kínai (This is Chinese to me.)

    Japanese: ちんぷんかんぷんだ (It's double Dutch to me)

    Russian: китайская грамота (It's Chinese writing!)

    Serbian: Cyrillic: шпанска села -- Latin: španska sela (Spanish villages)

    Spanish: Eso es griego para mí (It's Greek to me.)

    Swedish: Det är rena grekiskan ("It is pure Greek")
     

    diegodbs

    Senior Member
    Spain-Spanish
    In Spain:
    esto es/parece chino = this is Chinese to me.

    Perhaps because Chinese is considered a very difficult language.
     

    Honour

    Senior Member
    Türkçe, Türkiye
    in turkish, even it doesn't mean the same thing, if someone misses the context of a conversation or chat s/he says: "olaya fransız kaldım" which means "i am french to the conversation/chat" . I know that is quite opposite of other languages :) .
     

    ALOV

    Member
    Belgium- du, fr, eng, sp
    In Dutch we also say:
    "Dat is Chinees voor mij!" (that's chinese for me)

    OR sometimes:
    "Dat is Latijn voor mij'" (that's latin for me)
     

    janecito

    Senior Member
    Slovene, Slovenia
    Jana337 said:
    We Czechs (as well as the Slovaks to my knowledge), in turn, associate the absolute lack of comprehensibility with Spanish villages but don’t ask me why!

    To je pro mne španělská vesnice. This is a Spanish village to me.
    Looks like we've got a Czech-(Slovak-)Slovenian pact going here. :)

    To mi je španska vas. This is a Spanish village to me.

    No idea where this village comes from though...

    Isn't there also a Spanish expression "No entiendo ni jota." meaning (approximately) the same. To shift from nationalities to alphabet. :)
     

    Juri

    Senior Member
    italian/Slovenia
    The same in italian:"Non capisco un'acca"."Non me ne importa un'acca"
    (I don't care a straw)
    The letter aich in It. is not important. She is only used for the sounds chi,che,ghi ghe and the verb avere. In the dictionary the "h" occupies only a half page with majority of foreign words.
     

    Kevman

    Senior Member
    USA English
    My first post here is going to be kind of a nerdy one, but I find this discussion very interesting! As far as I know the phrase originated in English from the quill of William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar. The earliest instance I know of which survives in print is the First Folio of 1623, but the play was of course written several years earlier (you know, during Shakespeare's lifetime!).

    Near the end of Act I, scene ii Casca is describing to Brutus and Cassius the festivities surrounding Caesar's being made emperor:

    Cassi. Did Cicero say any thing?
    Cask. I, he spoke Greeke.
    Cassi. To what effect?
    Cask. Nay, and I tell you that, Ile ne're looke you i' th' face againe. But those that understood him, smil'd at one another, and shooke their heads: but for mine owne part, it was Greeke to me.

    I never realized the old chap was so influential that such a phrase of his could become so popular worldwide with regional variations like that, but I suppose the concept is universal and was just begging for an adage.
     

    skatoulitsa

    Senior Member
    Greek, Greece
    I'm not sure if the choice depends on geography or the language. For example US, England and Australia. All very far from each other, but they all speak english and I'm pretty sure they use "it's all greek to me", no?
    But then apparently from what i read from the responses, spanish has griego o chino depending on geography...
     

    The Extraordinary

    New Member
    Greek, Greece
    yeah, we say in Greece "it's all Chinese to me", since Chinese is the most difficult language in the world and Greek the second most difficult!
     

    Bienvenidos

    Senior Member
    USA
    Afghanistan/USA
    It's an odd phrase to translate, but:

    Persian (Farsi):

    Urchíz burím Greek us.
    (Everything's Greek to me)

    Urchíz buruh muh Greek us.
    (Alternative Sentence)
    Bien
     

    larosa

    Member
    Hungary, Hungarian
    Whodunit said:
    Jana, we also say "Das ist Chinesisch für mich - That's all Chinese to me"
    In Hungarian we say: Ez nekem kínai. It means 'That sounds Chinese to me'
     
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