Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Twelfth of Never

When will that happen? How various cultures express impossibility or extreme improbability.

  1. When grapes ripen on the willow.

  2. When cows fly.

  3. When pigs fly.

  4. Not in a month of Sundays.

  5. When hell freezes over.

  6. When chickens have teeth.

  7. On Saint Glinglin's Day.

  8. When the 7 - 11 closes.

  9. In the week with 2/3/4 Thursdays.

  10. On Saint Nobody's Day.

  11. When the sun rises in the west.

  12. When Easter and Whitsun coincide.

  13. When the crayfish whistles on the hill.

  14. When it snows red snowflakes.

  15. When gypsy children stream from the sky.

  16. When frogs grow hair.

  17. When I see the back of my head.

  18. On goalkeeper's day.

  19. When the linden tree bears pears.

  20. When the linden tree bears pears and the willow wall-flowers.

  21. At Easter of the horses and at the wedding of the cows.

  22. When donkeys fly.

  23. In the year of never and the month of then.

  24. At the Greek Kalends.

  25. When Easter falls in May.

  26. When the crow flies upside-down.

  27. In the year of the cuckoo.

  28. When the cow coughs.

  29. When the cactus grows on my hand.

  30. In the birch bark month, on the day of the goat.

Extra credit for the enthusiastic reader: try to figure out the language of origin of each of the numbered expressions. Check back in a week or so for the answers.

If you can't wait, most of the answers are available at this excellent link, from which the majority of the phrases are taken:

Flying Pigs and Toothy Chickens

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