Figures of Speech

Mitla Ruina

All languages make “word pictures” to say things in a poetic or elegant way. In English we can say “he is walking tall” even about a short person. We mean “he is proud” or “he is happy” and he is walking with his head high. These figures of speech liven up our conversation. Here are a few examples from Lealao Chinantec, spoken in the State of Oaxaca:

See if you can match the following phrases with their correct meanings:

 

1. To be covered or to slide
na3jli3 na3beeh32 a2

a. To puff out one’s cheeks
b. Pants tucked in boots
c. To be ferocious
d. To be in debt

 

2. To carry chickens
2chia42a2 niih2

a. To puff out one's cheeks
b. Pants tucked in boots
c. Old man in rags
d. To talk badly

 

3. To eat bats
hi2chuh2a2 laa2

a. Old man in rags
b. To be in jail
c. To be ferocious
d. To propose marriage

 

4. To have a wide open mouth
jla2 na1haa2

a. To propose marriage
b. To talk boldly
c. To talk badly
d. To puff out one’s cheeks

 

5. To have an injured mouth
hoo42 na1haa2  

a. To talk badly
b. To be ferocious
c. To be in jail
d. To talk boldly

 

6. To hang oneself
hi2chih42a2 voo32a2  

b. To be ferocious
d. To talk boldly
a. To talk badly
c. To be in jail

 

7. Cow feet
guaa3 tii2 cue2yah3

a. To be in debt
b. Pants tucked in boots
c. Old man in rags
d. To be in jail

 

8. Dressed up squirrel
güii42 na3jmeeyh42

a. Pants tucked in boots
b. To be in debt
c. Old man in rags
d. To puff out one’s cheeks

 

9. A dog with a litter
dsii3 xey3 j2

a. To talk badly
b. To be in debt
c. To puff out one’s cheeks
d. To be ferocious