It's all Greek to me

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by Jana337, Feb 9, 2005.

  1. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    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!

  2. belén

    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...
  3. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    Thank you for the rapid reply.
    Chinese to the fore! :)

  4. Sev

    Sev Senior Member

    Béziers, France
    France, french.
    In french we also say "C'est du chinois !"
  5. Manuela Senior Member

    Italy -Italian/English
    in italiano si dice "per me e` arabo" ( cioe` "non lo capisco proprio"!!)

    tanti saluti
  6. fetchezlavache

    fetchezlavache Senior Member

    metz, france
    crikey. i thought we said 'c'est de l'hébreu pour moi'... :eek:
  7. Sev

    Sev Senior Member

    Béziers, France
    France, french.
    ^Yes, we also say that Fetchez !
  8. Carlos Martínez Riera

    Carlos Martínez Riera Senior Member

    Spain / Spanish
    True... chines is the most popular reference.
    We also use 'Arameo', Arameic, as an impossible language.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2012
  9. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    Arameic is a dead language, yes. But why "impossible"???

  10. Dalian

    Dalian Senior Member

    Shanghai, China
    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.
  11. Carlos Martínez Riera

    Carlos Martínez Riera Senior Member

    Spain / Spanish
    Impossible to understand, only that.
  12. Ralf Senior Member

    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.

  13. Philippa

    Philippa Senior Member

    Britain - English
    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 :)
  14. belén

    belén Senior Member

    Spanish, Spain, Catalan, Mallorca
    ^ have never heard the "básico" thing...sorry... :confused:

    Besos, :)
  15. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    ^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?

  16. 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". :)
  17. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Jana, we also say "Das ist Chinesisch für mich - That's all Chinese to me" and it has the same explanation as your "böhmische Dörfer" and Ralf's "Greek ..."
  18. smorodina

    smorodina Senior Member

    The Russian equivalent is "it is all a Chinese alphabet to me".:)
  19. Dalian

    Dalian Senior Member

    Shanghai, China
    oooh, I'm indeed surprised to see Chinese is such a dreadfully difficult language in you idioms. :eek: :eek:
  20. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    ^German isn't much easier. I'm surprised, no one posted such a saying with German.
  21. Tede Senior Member

    Warwick, RI
    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?
  22. ~PiCHi~

    ~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:
  23. Like an Angel

    Like an Angel Senior Member

    Córdoba - Argentina
    Argentina - Spanish
    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!
  24. manuycacu

    manuycacu Senior Member

    San Isidro, BA
    Argentina - Spanish
    Yes, when we find something extremely difficult to understand we say: "¡esto es chino básico!"
  25. Magg Senior Member

    Spain / Spanish
    (Eso) me suena a chino.

  26. 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. :)
  27. badger

    badger Senior Member

    Dublin, Ireland
    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.

  28. Tabac Senior Member

    Pacific Northwest (USA)
    U. S. - English
    I'm told by a Greek friend of mine that the expression in Greek uses 'Chinese', as well.
  29. 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.
  30. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale

    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. :)


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

    No offense to those who speak Spanish please!
  31. muspara New Member

    Israel, USA Hebrew/English
    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.
  32. Artrella Banned

    Para mí esto es CHINO BASICO!!!! :D
  33. Like an Angel

    Like an Angel Senior Member

    Córdoba - Argentina
    Argentina - Spanish
    Then the hardest language on earth is Chinesse, after it just God is the hardest one :D... intresting, I like that "tian shu" :)
  34. Outsider Senior Member

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

    É grego para mim. / É chinês para mim.
  35. drei_lengua

    drei_lengua Senior Member

    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.

  36. cameo

    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.
  37. 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")
  38. diegodbs

    diegodbs Senior Member

    In Spain:
    esto es/parece chino = this is Chinese to me.

    Perhaps because Chinese is considered a very difficult language.
  39. 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 :) .
  40. ronanpoirier

    ronanpoirier Senior Member

    Porto Alegre
    Brazil - Portuguese
    In portuguese we say "estar falando grego" of course we'll inflect the verb "estar" according to whom is talking.
  41. Juri Senior Member

    Koper, near Trieste
    IT. When I didn't obey at once, my mother ever said:"Parlo turco?"
    We say also "Come un turco alla predica"(as a Turk during the sermon)
  42. LaSmarjeZ

    LaSmarjeZ Member

    Herning, Danmark
    Sardinia - Italy
    In Italy you can hear Turkish, Arabic, Greek and rarely also aramaic
  43. 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)
  44. janecito

    janecito Senior Member

    Γρανάδα, Ισπανία
    Slovene, Slovenia
    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. :)
  45. Juri Senior Member

    Koper, near Trieste
    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.
  46. Kevman Senior Member

    Phoenix, Arizona
    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.
  47. skatoulitsa

    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...
  48. 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!
  49. Bienvenidos

    Bienvenidos Senior Member

    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)
  50. larosa Member

    Hungary, Hungarian
    In Hungarian we say: Ez nekem kínai. It means 'That sounds Chinese to me'

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