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Translating a text

Posted by Pamela on March 30, 2006

In Reply to: Translating a text posted by Smokey Stover on March 30, 2006

: : : I'm translating a text from (American) English into Serbian and don't know the meaning of 2 phrases:
: : : 1. The turtle goes down the beaten path
: : : 2. get (right down) into shoe leather

: : To go down the beaten path is to take the most-used route, to pursue a goal without doing anything original and risky. This metaphor relies on the flattening effect of many feet on an unpaved trail: heavy traffic beats a path down. "The beaten path" is a common enough phrase, but I haven't heard it applied to turtles before. The turtle in your context may be metaphorical, too. A turtle proceeds slowly and hides its head when it senses danger.

: : The shoe-leather phrase isn't familiar to me. I'm a native speaker of American English.

: I, another native speaker of American English, have never these phrases, and at first glance I thought they were translations from the Serbo-Croatian. I suspect that the shoe-leather phrase is related to the phrase "pound the pavement," that is, use your actual feet in walking to such places as you need to visit, primarily in connection with what investigators, police and private, do as required. SS

An Australian journalist recently used the "shoe leather" phrase in the context of an upcoming election:

KATHY MCLEISH: In the final week, an election campaign comes down to shoe leather... [One of the candidates] reckons he's knocked on more than 80 per cent of the doors in this labour stronghold. He's out meeting the people."

Full transcript is at:

In this context "get down to shoe leather" means get out of the office or the car and walk around, meet people or - as Smokey said - "pound the pavement". Maybe because it wears out the leather on the bottom of your shoe? Pamela