A Swedish doctor's collection of English anatomical idioms

Harvard Medical School's Per-Olof Hasselgren moved from Sweden to the USA more than 30 years ago, and ever since he got here, he's been noting down the large and bizarre universe of anatomical idioms in the glorious hairball that is the English language.

He's collected more than 2,000 of these in a new book, celebrating English's proliferation of body-related idioms — these are much more central to English than they are to Swedish.

The result is a book that blends anatomy and language with humor, but from an anatomist's perspective.

Befuddled when someone remarked that something was "fishy," Hasselgren didn't yet grasp American slang and idiomatic expressions. "Something's fishy" wouldn't make much sense directly translated into Swedish, but Hasselgren eventually located its Swedish counterpart, that aforementioned head-scratching phrase involving feathered critters in a bog. (Another American expression, "to beat around the bush," would mean to "walk like a cat around hot porridge" in Sweden.)..

…"When I have medical students and residents scrubbed in during my cases in the operating room, there are many opportunities to demonstrate and discuss anatomy," he said. "I often make the point that anatomy matters. I usually also jokingly add, 'You even need to know your anatomy to be able to speak and understand your language properly.'"

Body Language – from Head to Toe: Expressions, idioms, slang, and quotes related to body part
[Per-Olof Hasselgren/Strategic Book Publishing]

Body Language- from Head to Toe
by Per-Olof Hasselgren

Body of work [Sarah Sweeney/Harvard Gazette]

(via 3 Quarks Daily)