Translation Tuesday–nekojita!

Have you you ever heard a phrase in a foreign language and thought you understood it, but then realized that…you didn’t understand it at all? You understood the literal translations of the words, but had no idea why they were being used or what the person was trying to say.

This might happen to you if you’re studying Japanese and hear the phrase 猫舌 (nekojita). Literally, it means “cat tongue” or “cat’s tongue.” But what if the conversation you hear this in has nothing to do with cats? You might be a little lost.

But that’s because 猫舌 actually translates into something very specific: someone who cannot drink extremely hot liquids. The reasoning behind this is that cats’ tongues are very sensitive, so if somebody has a “cat’s tongue,” they are unable to drink extremely hot liquids–they need to let them cool down first!

Does English have a word for this? I couldn’t come up with anything, but maybe you can…

And thanks to reader Jan for sharing this with us!

(Have you had a lost in translation moment? Share it with us and it could be featured on G-Blogodaria!)

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1 Response to "Translation Tuesday–nekojita!"

  1. Duke

    One thing I remember from Japanese back in college was buta neko. I think it means FAT CAT. Buta=fat Neko=cat. Hmmm. Remind me… someone who speaks Japanese. Anyway, I think it’s a double entendre that means rich person, eh? no?

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