'I couldn't give a hoot'

Article published on Sept. 30, 2009
Article published on Sept. 30, 2009
You couldn't care less what somebody is saying to you? European expressions range from the Germans 'not giving a sausage' to rather more vulgar sausage sayings ... read on for the weekly idiom roundup

‘And I ate an apple this morning!’ The French wryly put an end to all banalities with the phrase Et moi j’ai mangé une pomme ce matin. They’re so bored by your comments, that they offer you another uninteresting detail from their lives. The Spaniards react too, feeling like they’re listening to rain: como si escuchara llover. 100% guaranteed to shut you up. Sticking with the skies, the Brits reply I couldn’t give a hootwhilst the Spanish variation goes cerrarle el pico, which resembles the English order: Shut your beak.

The Spaniards see one main vision when they feel you’re talking so much nonsense that it spills out from your mouth through your elbows (habla por los codos). Their version of ‘I couldn’t care less’ amounts to me importa un comino (‘I don’t give a cumin’) or me importa un bledo, to the end effect that the other person ‘finally stops tweeting’ or no diga ni pío. The Germans complain that whatever you say, ‘what do you care if it’s a jacket or a coat?’: das ist doch Jacke wie Hose

The French outdated strategy is: ça ne lui rendra pas la jambe bien faite(‘it won’t give you a beautiful leg’), referring to a rooster’s leg, which allegedly symbolised pride, and today has evolved into the expression Ça me fait une belle jambe ! (‘that gives me a good leg’). Brimming with pride, the Germans make a stereotypical allusion to national food staple, the Curry Wurst, when they say proclaim ‘I couldn’t give a sausage’ or das ist mir Wurst (‘That’s a sausage to me’, literally). It has been claimed in certain internet forums that the Bard from whom these words originated from was Otto von Bismarck. ‘How do you say sausage in Latin,’ he asked blithely, interrupting others around him fussing over what his new title would be as first chancellor of Germany – so the story goes. 

On to other, more vulgar sausages: the bored Poles are left ‘hanging’ (Wisi mi to), the French men masturbate ( s’en branlent), the Spanish comment that it goes through their [foreskin] or clitoris: lo pasan por el forro de…, or me lo paso por la pipa del coño, or se la pela (masturbate). Your boring comment could ‘go via a German’s ass’ (das geht mir am Arsch vorbei), or ‘fill a Polish ass’ (mam to w dupie), which is when the Poles then ‘piss by' whatever you say (olewam to or leję na to). The Brits for their part couldn’t give – in theatrical turn - a shit, a rat's ass or a flying fuck. Nice!

We’ll end on a more mathematical tone for you, borrowing a haughty expression from the Germans who’ll tell you that das tangiert mich peripher (‘That affects me in the periphery’). The verb comes from the Latin ‘tanegere’, meaning to touch, which in German has come to mean affect or bother. 

More from resident illustrator Henning Studtehere