Expressions of Europe

Europe is the continent of linguistic creativity. If we pay attention to our neighbors’ jokes, tongue twisters or spoonerisms, we discover many ways of thinking and understanding the world. One may notice for instance that every European country do jokes about one or various of its neighbors. This illustrate the special kind of links which bind nations together. One may also notice that behind funny tongue twisters, there are sometines amazing stories. It learns us a lot on the historical backgrounds of each country. This section will mainly revolves around those European expressions, trying to introduce them in a transnational outlook.

European Jokes

But who are we poking fun at? Indeed, Belgian jokes are very popular in France, Luxemburg and Netherlands such as jokes on Swedes are very common in Norway, Denmark and Finland.  In the Baltic countries, people tend to laugh at Estonians, whereas in Balkan states, they do jokes on Bosnians. This list is the first attempt ever made to compile the national targets of jokes in each European country. Europe is full of this “jokelore”. Don’t worry, most of the researchers like Davies and Leon Rappoport have argued that ethnic jokes do not propagate ethnic stereotypes, but are often a way of positive interaction between communities. Jokes on neighbors, ac […]

European Superstitions

Mini - European superstitions In Europe, we all share common superstitions : walking under a ladder, seeing a black cat, breaking a mirror, opening an umbrella indoors, all those widespread superstitions are told to bring bad luck. Others are told to bring good luck, such as the four leaf clover or the number 7. But apart from these common references, we also have individual superstitions at national level which are the results of cultural and folkloric events or traditions. Some of them can be really funny, even if it is difficult to understand how people could have come to that superstition. In Serbia, if you bit your tongue, this means that your grandmother plans to bake a cake for you… In Lithuania, a bird shitting on you will bring you […]

European Bon Appétit

 mini-european-bon-appetitThe perfect accompaniment to any meal, be it a starter, main or dessert. It can be paired with a humble slice of bread, or used to make a cake or pastry that little bit more delicious. Watch out though, it shouldn’t be served with wine or beer! No, we’re not talking about lashings of butter or your favourite condiment, but the expression Bon Appétit – and its European equivalents – which can be heard around dinner tables all over the continent as people sit down to tuck into their dinners. It’s all about European cuisine… but in its great diversity! Mahlzeit! wishes you the German, Hyvää ruokahalua! replies the Finn, Dobrou chuť! says the Czechs and Bon Appétit! answers the French. […]

European Nationality-Related Idioms

Mini - European Nationality-Related Idioms Yes, we all know: “every road goes to Rome” and “it was not built in a day”. These proverbs can be heard all throughout Europe… But Europeans also have specific sayings and idioms related to other European nationalities and they are extremely funny. If French people propose you “to go make yourself see at the home of the Greeks, they are not inviting you for a nice trip to Greece…  When Spaniards “pretend to be Swede“, they just pretend to be ignorant… When Romanians “steal the German’s pipe“, they are just getting drunk… Dutch people are panicking heavily when they “get Spanish tension” and Slovenians “go to Rome” when […]

European Palindromes
Mini - European Palindromes

 You may not know what a palindrome is, but you surely have read one at least once in your life. A palindrome is a sentence whose meaning may be read and interpreted the same way in either forward or reverse direction. “Madam, I’m Adam” for instance. And European languages generated thousands of them ! Some languages are really appropriate to build palindromes and others are somehow less “malleable”. The word “palindrome itself is a European invention, as it was coined in the 17th century by the English writer Ben Jonson. Germans have even come up with the palindromic word “Eibohphobie” to describe the hypothetic […]

European Tongue Twisters

This is maybe unexpected, but the following list of most famous Tongue Twisters will teach you a lot on European culture and history. In some countries, as in Italy or England, the tongue twisters are based on historical events, and this is quite impressive. In other countries as in Czech Republic or Estonia, they are just really funny. And naturally for the majority of them, they are unpronounceable! This […]

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