By Tom Bendall
“My flea”, “an egg with eyes”, “a diving fish, swooping geese”. These may not sound like the most complimentary things you could say to someone, although I’m glad to say they sound much more affectionate in their native language.
Some terms work in English. For example, pumpkin in Portuguese - “Chuchuzinho” - is used here in the UK. Then there are some that don’t quite translate into English. For example the French term for Sweetie “Ma Puce” translates as my flea, which may sound like you’re calling your other half an annoyance rather than a sweetie.
It does work both ways too: if you refer to a French person as “honey” or “miel” in French it can be construed as you calling them a sticky mess.
Although it may not sound like the nicest thing you could say to your love interest, saying a lady looks like an egg with eyes in Japanese, “Tamago gata no kao,” is considered a great compliment in Japan.
“Diving fish, swooping geese” - or “Chen yu luo yan”- is a Chinese saying to describe a beautiful woman. It comes from two Chinese stories about two beautiful women Xi Shi and Wang Zhaojun. Xi Shi was so beautiful that when fish in a pond saw her they forgot to swim and sank, while Wang Zhaojun’s beauty made geese forget to flap their wings and swoop towards the ground - hence the term “diving fish, swooping geese”. This is something which I think Walt Disney has imitated in many a Disney motion picture, Snow White charming the woodland creatures out of hiding with a song for example.
As Pat Benatar would say “love is a battlefield”, and hopefully some of these examples will help keep you out of trouble or impress that special someone.
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