Facts So Romantic

When Pigs Fly, Crayfish Whistle, and It Snows Red Snowflakes

What do you say when faced with something so unlikely, so improbable, that you simply cannot imagine it ever happening? Perhaps you’ll admit your neighbor was right about who owns the shovel you’ve both used—when pigs fly. Or maybe your boss will give you that raise when hell freezes over. But would you ever say that Elvis will perform again when hair grows on the palm of your hand? In Israel you might. All over the world, there is a wide range of idioms of improbability. Click on the map below to see a few of the more colorful ways of saying “just about never.”

Persian Gulf

ذا حجت البقرة على قرونها — “When the cow goes on pilgrimage on its horns”

Egypt

في المشمش —  “When the apricots bloom”

Finland

Sitten kun lehmät lentävät — “When the cows fly”

France

Quand les poules auront des dents — “When chicken have teeth”

Spain

Cuando meen las gallinas — “When the hens piss”

Latvia

Kad pūcei aste ziedēs  — “When the owl’s tail blossoms”

Israel

כשיצמחו שערות על כף ידי — “When hair grows on the palm of my hand”

Hungary

Majd ha piros hó esik — “When it’s snowing red snowflakes”

Portugal

No dia de São Nunca à tarde — “In the afternoon of Saint Never’s day”

Poland

Kiedy mi kaktus na ręku wyrośnie — “When the cactus will grow on my hand”

Turkey

Balık ağaca/kavağa çıkınca — “When fish climb trees/poplar trees”

Spain / Spanish

Cuando las ranas críen pelo — “When frogs grow hair”

Persian

وقتگلنی (vaght e gol e ney) — “When the reed plant blossoms”

Chinese

除非太陽從西邊出來 [除非太阳从西边出来] (chúfēi tàiyáng cóng xībiān chūlái) — “Unless the sun would rise from the west”

Russia

когда рак на горе свистнет (kogdá rak na goré svístnet) — “When the crawfish whistles on the mountain”.

Serbia

Kad na vrbi rodi groždje — “When grapes grow on a willow”


Sources:

http://www.wordsense.eu/when_pigs_fly/
http://www.italki.com/question/112331
http://en.glosbe.com/fi/en/kun lehmät lentävät
http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/quandlespoulesaurontdesdents.htm
http://archive.org/stream/adictionaryspan00collgoog/adictionaryspan00collgoog_djvu.txt
http://www.seadict.com/he/he/כשיצמחו שערות על כף-ידו
http://en.glosbe.com/hu/en/ha piros hó esik
http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1716329
http://www.omniglot.com/language/idioms/flyingpigs.php
http://www.anlam.net/nedir/deyimler_sozlugu/balik_kavaga_cikinca
http://dictionary.reverso.net/spanish-english/cuando las ranas críen pelos
http://www.wordsense.eu/when_pigs_fly/
http://www.gramma.ru/RUS/?id=14.48
http://www.wordsense.eu/kad_na_vrbi_rodi_grožđe/

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