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Our Reg reader 'mutt's nuts' dictionary is le chien's biens

Or he3 hi-niikoo'owu'u-no, as the Arapaho would enthuse

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Last month, we provoked quite a linguistic rumpus when we unwisely described our Vulture 2 spaceplane's magnificent livery as les noix du mutt.

This immediately prompted protests at the use of noix for French goolies, and we threw the matter over to our beloved readers, inviting them to also provide international translations for the compilation of the definitive mutt's nuts dictionary.

You responded magnificently, but not without controversy, since there's a clear divide between the "literal translation" and "convey the sense" schools of thought.

So, while les noix du chien might amuse a Brit who knows the original English meaning, it in no way transmits the sense of "top notch" to a Frenchman.

Well, we'll leave it to you lot to ponder the legitimacy or otherwise of the following submissions, but suffice it to say, we're well on our way to compiling the definitive mutt's nuts dictionary...

Arapaho

We all know the Arapaho term for pliers is tooyo'oenoo' ("they bite", literally), so we went in search just what dangly bits of a dog tooyo'oenoo' might bite, were it necessary.

Taking the word for dog (he3) and nuts (niikoo'owu'u), and forming the possessive from directions in the handy A Reconstructed Conjunct Order Participle in Arapaho, we arrive at the impressive he3 hi-niikoo'owu'u-no.

In case you're wondering, 3 is pronounced "like English th 'thin', never as in 'that'" and ' is a "glottal stop, as in the middle of 'oh-oh!' in English". Seek further enlightenment here.

Finnish

Chris Wareham presented the literal translation koiran pallot, where [the] dog's [possessive/genitive case] balls [nominative plural].

Mookster jumped in with: "Na, I'd go with: Koiran Munat. (Although Munat is eggs, you'd get some very funny looks if you went into a shop and asked for them)"

French

Plenty of input on this one, kicking off with Anomalous Cowshed's comedy zeu deug's bolleucks, which would certainly please the Inspector Clouseau fanclub, but also found favour with Antonovich, who used to work in Bordeaux where "dogze boloques was definitely an expression we used occasionally".

Hans 1 served up the literal couilles de cleps, but suggested bijoux de famille might better convey the meaning.

Irony Deficient responded: "I can't think of an existing idiom that combines those two pieces; we’ll probably need to coin our own. Perhaps something like dard de clébard (literally 'mutt's spear', though to my knowledge, dard is not currently used to represent any part of a dog's anatomy, and clébard is a bit more pejorative than 'mutt' — maybe cur would be closer)"

Over in Canada, meanwhile, Dave Stevens reckons the Francophone Canucks might opt for les gosses du chien or la poche du chien. Gosses in this case is 'nads, not "kids" or "brats", as in France.

Gaelic

EddieD said the phrase we're after is cù magairle, although Nicboyde added: "According to Bruichladdich, darling of Islay, Clachan a Choin is the Gaelic. By which I believe they mean the Scottish form, not the Irish, Manx etc."

German

Andreas Koch was quickly out of the blocks with this analysis: "Apart from the fact that people in the old Vaterland wouldn't refer to a specially good thing that way the translation would be: Die Nüsse des Hundes. Alternatively you could call the male canine gonads Eier (eggs), which is more common.

"To preserve the colloquial humour I would propose: Die Klöten des Köters*. I don't think anyone ever said that, but it sounds cool. At least for northerners with a soft spot for alliterations; I don't think Klöten is used in the south...

"* The ö is rather like the 'i' and half the 'r' in 'first'. A bit like the Swedish chef from The Muppets."

Hokkien

According to reader Gordon 8's missus, if you're looking to express excellence among the many speakers of this far-flung Chinese dialect, then try 狗胡说八道 - phonetically "lien cheow".

Gordon admitted: "Whatever it is, it sounds dodgy to me."

Italian

Our anonymous contributor, who we've dubbed "Don Coglioni", wrote: "It would be le palle del cane , or alternatively, i coglioni del cane. (nuts are noci pron. 'noshy', balls as palle pron. rhymes with 'gall-ee', balls as in gonads are coglioni pron. 'kollyonee')

"Unfortunately, in Dante's and Manzoni's blessed language you'd -never- say something to be cool as i coglioni del cane, since said gonads are not held in great respect.

"You do, however, say, especially in Southern Itay, that sei indietro come i coglioni del cane, meaning 'you're late as a dog's nuts' in regards to something that has happened before you knew of it."

Japanese

This one proved tricky. Tristanm kicked off with: "How about inu no kintama for the Japanese translation? 犬の金玉. Literally 'dogs gold balls'."

Pypes responded: "Shouldn't that be tanuki no kintama, as the tanuki is regarded in Japanese folklore as having exceptionally large balls, and said large balls being considered lucky."

Frumious Bandersnatch then weighed in with a mini-thesis on the matter: "I have a copy of Japanese Street Slang at home. As you might imagine, it has a whole section devoted to testicles:) Kintama is the #1 word they recommend, but (as with many of the words in the book) I've never heard it spoken. It does seem to have a good pedigree, though (no pun intended).

"The other word that I was actually going to suggest is in there too: O-inari. The o at the start is an honorific prefix. Look up the web to see pictures of inari sushi (contracted to inarizushi).

"From the resemblance to scrota, it should be obvious that people could understand its slang use. The only thing about using it with kitsune (as opposed to inu) as some people have suggested is that there's also a kami (somewhere between a spirit and a god) named Inari, and the kitsune are his messengers.

"If you said something like kitsune no inari, people might thing you were referring to the kami and get confused. You'd just have to try it out on a native Japanese speaker."

Latin

Colei canis and not testicul par canem is the phrase we're after. As John Cleese might have said: "Now write it out a hundred times. And if it's not done by sunrise, I'll cut your (dog's) balls off."

Norwegian

Sweep authoritatively reported hundens balla as the correct expression, but since he also offered "the dug's baws" as the Scottish equivalent, further verification is required.

Sesotho

Jim Lundberg wrote: "In Lesotho the spoken language is Sesotho, and the people are Basotho." So, the Lesotho Basotho Sesotho phrase is Marete a ntja - "the testes of a dog".

Thai

We're obliged to Scott Earle for this gem, or rather pair of gems: "Thai doesn't have any possessives (or plurals, singulars, tenses, articles [definite or indefinite], or pretty much any grammar at all - making the language a tad tricky to learn!), and so the phrase would be ไข่หมา - literally meaning 'egg dog', but in this context would be 'the eggs of [a/some/the] dog(s)'.

"Eggs are used to refer to the male gonads, presumably for their fragility? Because of the tonal nature of the language, the pronunciation is a little tricky, but it would be 'khai maa' with the first word said with a low tone, and the second with a rising tone."

Welsh

We had a few suggestions for this one, kicking off with a basic cnau cwn, quickly corrected to y cnau'r ci by JustaKOS and then contracted by Hywel Thomas to cnau'r ci, who explained: "I don't think you need the y because it's already in the contraction. Cnau y ci -> cnau'r ci. It may be that in real use it'd just be cnau ci though.

Hywel concluded with this useful example of everyday use: "'Old chap, this microwave is the mutt's nuts!' -> Mae'r pobty ping 'ma yn cnau ci gwboi!."

Fantastic stuff, and we're sure readers will agree this vital research is time well spent when we otherwise might have been wasting our time frivolously working for a living.

No doubt there are more international mutt's nuts entries to come, but while we await further input with bated breath, try this noteworthy anonymous Franglais suggestion: "The chien's biens." ®

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