Of Owls and Spoons

Last week we were discussing Redewendungen – “idiomatic expressions” – and the phrase die Suppe auslöffeln was one that I had previously heard. Literally it means “to eat up all of the soup” but the figurative meaning can be translated as “to face the music” or “to face the consequences” – die Konsequenzen/Folgen tragen. This led me to other phrases including the verb tragen, some of which feel quite natural in English, others less so. Prior to learning the idiom die Suppe auslöffeln, I’d used this verb mainly in the sense of “wearing” something as in “to wear a coat” – einen Mantel tragen. Here are some expressions and saying that extended the meaning of tragen for me:

“to carry a trunk” – einen Koffer tragen
“to bear a name” – einen Namen tragen
“to pay for itself” – sich selbst tragen

“to grin and bear it” – es mit Fassung tragen (“to bear something with composure”)
“to bring coals to Newcastle” – Eulen nach Athen tragen (“to take owls to Athens” – the owl is the symbol of Athena and appeared on Athenian coins)
“to wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve” – das Herz auf der Zunge tragen (“to wear your heart on your tongue”)

In addition, there is a related word, übertragen, that is part of the expression for the figurative meaning of a word – die übertragener Bedeutung – which perhaps could be translated as the meaning “carried above” the actual words?!

Hope I haven’t “worn you out” with all of these (which I might have done if I had covered all of the possible translations dict.cc gives for “worn out,” abgetragen among them)

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