I avoid using common idioms because I often mess them up. As an adult, English is my primary language, but I grew up in Southern California and surrounded by family in a swirl of Spanish and English with Hebrew, Portuguese, German and Yiddish sprinkled in. Hablamos todos! Y occasionally messed them all up (as I’ve noted before).
Example: certain expressions have always eluded me. Like, yes! I’m going to grab the bull by the balls! Oh wait. I mean, “Take the bull by the horns”, a phrase that I have never once correctly uttered and only know now because I googled it. I will forget the correct phrasing as soon as I am done writing this.
A friend of ours, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a first-generation Armenian-Syrian-Jewish-American. She sympathizes. Recently in a job interview, she says, she said something along the lines of “The company shouldn’t chew off… I mean, bite a lot… ” After mumbling various false starts, she declared: “I can’t remember! My parents are immigrants!”
She’s still trying to remember whether “lucked out” is a good or a bad thing. Come to think of it, we don’t really know that one either.
Amy, who grew up in a Korean-speaking household and today makes her living as an (English) writer, still fights the urge to use “whole those things” as a synonym for “everything.”
Pero it kind of makes sense, right? What do you always get wrong?