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He is unlucky when he thinks

Photo of four varieties of bananas.

Image via Wikipedia

How can I call someone stupid? Let me count the ways …

It started with one “simple” expression (pardon the pun), s/he is one sandwich short of a picnic, also known as one banana short of a bunch and other derivatives. At the Omniglot site you can find a whole page devoted to more expressions of this type in English and a variety of other languages.

What you find is that most languages have an expression to do with “missing” a screw or similar or that this object is loose. For example, in Croatian and Serbian you lack a plank, in Dutch, you don’t have all your 5 senses in a row and in German, you’re missing some cups in the cupboard. Only in Czech do you have something extra, an extra wheel – curiously, for the Italians, this is what you lack …

Another widespread idea is that of the attic or roof, for example having birds (Latvian), monkeys (Portuguese), rats (Danish) or even brownies (Swedish – no joke) in the attic or the roof being full of holes or just plain missing.

After that, there are the absolutely bizarre, probably-missing-something-in-translation, type of phrases. Our favourites follow …

Turkish takes the prize with no less than four phrases:

Kafadan kontak – The contacts in his brain are cut / Keçileri kaçırmıs – His goats fled

Kafayı yemiş – He has eaten his own brain / Tırlatmış – He purred

Our title for this post comes from Swedish:

Han har otur när han tänker – He is unlucky when he thinks

Croatian brings us the painful Vrane su mu popile mozak – Crows have drunk his brain, while a personal merit award goes to Czech for the bizarre Šplouchá mu na maják – It’s splashing on his lighthouse! I think we can all relate to that one …

Strange Random Stupidity Quote:

“The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.” – Harlan Ellison

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