In Reply to: The proverbial buffalo posted by Smokey Stover on April 15, 2010 at 03:02:
: : A quick question - I'm translating a contemporary British novel, and ran into this sentence: "He will have to run headlong into it, like the proverbial buffalo into the storm." This seems to refer to some well-known idiom, but I can't think of any that would fit the bill. Any ideas?
: You said the author is British, right? And there aren't any buffaloes native to Great Britain. Well, there are in the U.S. (although not in the northeast, where I live), and I've never heard such an expression. I can imagine buffaloes, like musk oxen, facing a storm, especially when protecting their young, but "run headlong" suggests a situation I'm not familiar with.
: I do have a suggestion. Just translate what the author says, and don't worry about whether it makes sense or not.
SS is of course right when he says there are no Buffalo in the British Isles, but then there are no lions or elephants either, and the Brits have phrases involving those...
Having said that, I have never heard the phrase either, so if it is a genuine proverb it is presumably a fairly obscure one.
I am led to suspect the original writer was using the word 'proverbial' in a 'loose' (ie 'wrong') sense, rather in the way some people use the word 'literally' when they actually mean nothing of the sort.