Idioms + Missing Ziva

The AmateurI’m in the middle of listening to a Robert Littell book called The Amateur.

His books almost always deal with the CIA, and he’s most famous for The Company, an excellent book about the birth and history of the CIA.

The Amateur involves a cryptographer, Heller, who avenges is fiance’s death by terrorists by hunting them down in Czechoslovakia.

Elizabeth, an operative he meets there, is entranced with all things American, including American idioms.  Hearing and laughing to Elizabeth’s mangling of these idioms makes me realize how difficult it would be to understand idioms in a non-native tongue.

For example, Elizabeth says, “It’s like finding a thread in a haystack.”

Heller says, “You mean needle.”

haystack“What?”, Elizabeth asks, confused.

“The saying is ‘a needle in a haystack’,” says Heller.

Elizabeth retorts, “What difference does it make? Both are incredibly hard to find in a haystack…”

Elizabeth’s idiom trouble and her logic reminds me of the Ziva David character on the CBS show NCIS. Her distortion of idioms was delightful! I have so missed Zima since her character left the show…

zivaHere are a few Zima idiom distortions…

Ziva: We hit a shamu.
Susan: Did she mean a snafu?

Ziva: Bah hum-bog.
Tony: What?

Ziva: We have come to sit on the baby.

PS For those of you who are NCIS and/or Ziva fans: There are rumors (again) that she’s coming back . Here’s hoping…

4 thoughts on “Idioms + Missing Ziva”

  1. When Ziva first appeared in the show, I didn’t like her. She was closed, harsh, and really tough. It was all because of her background–both personal and professional. Gradually some of the layers came off and it was fun to see that happen. She was still tough, very tough, impressively tough. 🙂

    1. Israeli culture is very different. For example, it is rude to ask someone to pass something at the table if you can physically reach it. However, if you see a mother with a stroller near stairs, they automatically help the mother with the stroller down the stairs without asking, because it is rude to imply that she cannot do it.

  2. Funny! Idioms are hard. A comic in our paper sometimes has ones about his German born wife trying to use idioms with about as much success as Ziva.

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