If you heard someone say: "My soul has gone into my heels!" you might simply imagine that his shoe was falling to pieces. But a Russian translating literally from his own language would simply mean: "My heart sank to my boots!". He would be just as puzzled if you translated the English version literally into Russian.
The illustrated series we are starting today may help. In each case we give an illustration of the literal meaning of a Russian saying, and then an example of how the saying is applied.
Стрелять из пушки по воробьям
Russian Idiom: Стреля́ть из пу́шки по воробья́м. Strelyat' iz pushki po vorob'yam. [стр’ил’ат’ ис пушк’и по вараб’й’ам]
Translation to English: To fire a cannon at sparrows. English Equivalent: To use a sledge hammer to crack a nut.
Meaning: To make a great effort for a small gain.
Душа ушла в пятки
Russian Idiom: Ду́ша ушла́ в пя́тки. Dusha ushla v pyatki. [ду́ша ушла́ ф п’атк’и]
Translation to English: The soul has gone into the heels. English Equivalent: My heart sank to my boots.
Meaning: To be greatly alarmed by what is happening or expected to happen at once: to be frightened.
Делать из мухи слона
Russian Idiom: Де́лать из му́хи слона́. Delat' iz muhi slona. [д’элат’ ис мух’и слана]
Translation to English: To make an elephant out of a fly. English Equivalent: To make a mountain out of a molehill.
Meaning: To exaggerate the importance of a small matter.