Never mind the European bollocks

Article published on Nov. 19, 2008
Article published on Nov. 19, 2008
In an ode to my continental colleagues – why, and how male reproductive glands have them all wrapped up in idioms

Che palle!©Francesca cries the Italian editor of cafebabel.com as she grabs her head – internet is gone again, leading her to cry what balls! It’s not so rare to hear Italians evoke a man’s private parts without thinking about what they are actually evoking as they turn the air blue.

Us Germans do let slip with a Das geht mir auf den Sack©Katha(that gets on my balls) now and then. But the romance languages win for frequency of ball-sentence use. Non mi rompere i coglioni©Adrianoor non mi rompere le palle (don’t break my balls) can be said quite casually. Another crunchy Italian variety is maroni (chestnuts) – not to be confused with Italian interior minister Roberto Maroni. So when you say la rottura di Maroni©Adriano(... still breaking the balls), it’s not about the rupture he brought to politics as part of Berlusconi's government - twice!

Whenever you hear compared with something in Spain, it’s sure to be on a positive vibe. Therefore if something is cojonudo©Fernando(from the Spanish word for balls, cojones), it’s brilliant. In fact in Spain you can get away with expressing yourself in various testicle-idiomed ways. You are a bit lazy if you have square balls (tener los huevos cuadrados©Fernando) or are a huevón (ball-man, with balls weighing you down) in Latin American Spanish. You are scared if you have your balls like a tie (tener los cojones de corbata©Pedro).

The French are just as macho. When you have big balls(être couillu©Alexandre) it means you are courageous. So take care not to go off on balls (partir en couilles©Cédric) in a situation which is getting out of hand.

Check out more illustrations from our resident cartoonist, Henning Studte