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‘Sausage to me’: 5 business phrases that don’t make sense in English

Jessica Yun
·2-min read
(Source: Getty)
(Source: Getty)

“Pencil you in”, “pick your brain”; these are just two common phrases used in corporate life, and we use them almost without thinking.

So it’s no surprise that there’s a whole host of similar phrases that exist for professionals in other languages, too – and but many of them sound plain confusing when translated into English.

“Just as we have unique phrases and sayings … many countries all around the world use phrases that are totally unique to them,” wrote TollFreeForwarding in a blog post.

“These idioms are usually shorter, visually focused phrases that are used to put across a wider meaning.”

“While we wouldn’t think twice about using these idioms in a business setting, they can often seem confusing or odd to non-native speakers hearing them for the first time.”

Here are some business phrases in other languages you may not have heard of, courtesy of TollFreeForwarding:

German: ‘Das ist mir Wurst’

If the word ‘wurst’ sounds familiar, that’s because it is: this phrase directly translates into “this is sausage to me”.

“If a German colleague says this, they are telling you that they don’t care or have no opinion on the matter at hand.”

Swedish: ‘Slå två fulgor I en smäll’

This one makes more sense to English speakers, because we have a very similar phrase.

It means “hitting two flies in one blow,” which is just like killing two birsd with one stone – or completing two tasks in one go.

Polish: ‘Zrobić kogoś w konia’

Have you ever had someone in Polish say you are “turning someone into a horse”?

They’re not giving you a compliment: it means they’re accusing you of cheating or misleading someone.

Chinese: ‘九牛一毛’

The Chinese have many short, succinct phrases up their sleeves, and it’s often a punchy way to say something with colour and flair.

This phrase directly translates to “nine cows and one strand [of cow hair]”, and is similar to the English phrase “a drop in the bucket,” meaning something is quite small in the grand scheme of things.

Japanese: ‘猿も木から落ちる’

If you’ve made a mistake and a Japanese colleague says this to you, it’s probably nothing to be too worried about.

This one translates directly to “even monkeys fall out of trees”, and basically means ‘we all make mistakes’, even the best of us.

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