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Image for Tower of Babel idioms: celebrating 200 illustrations

Tower of Babel idioms: celebrating 200 illustrations

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Our weekly 'idioms' column came to life under the auspices of an English editor in 2005, an inevitable product of at least six nationalities working together everyday. Our man in Darmstadt, Henning Studte, has been its resident illustrator since then. Check out the editors' favourites in this image tribute

'Tongue twisters'

In a Tower of Babel (TOB) inspired by alliterative phrases which are hard to articulate, Studte plays with the idea of healing a 'twisted tongue' (May 200)

Is the pope catholic?

Studte's illustrations are irreverent and provocative. Here, Pope Benedict bathers in a wave of catholic soup. The illustration was commissioned for a special focussing on popular rhetoric questions (July 2007)

Clichés of the perfect Italian: Manicotti, mandolin and mob

The image is inspired from the first line of this TOB: 'What are the clichés of the perfect Italian? Manicotti, the mandolin ... and the mob'. The column takes to treating European stereotypes, such as the ones that the Italians/ Mafiosos fight  (June 2007)

Time of the month

This image certainly got tongues wagging:  in a piece talking about expressions related to menstruation periods, the inspiration comes from the German saying, which translates to: 'a true sailor has also navigated the Red Sea'. A real 'sailor' sleeps with his girlfriend when she's on, too! (December 2007)

French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni

Politicians aren't safe: Sarkozy is pictured with a sheep, inspired by a German expression about dangerous liasions (January 2008)

Lady Macca

The dangerous liasions theme continues across the Channel. When ex-Beatles star Paul McCartney - 'Macca', as the tabloids have christened him - was divorcing Heather Mills, Studte reflected on the bags of money 'Lady Mucca' ('cow') was anticipating in return (March 2008)

What a load of bollocks

The Italians often turn the air blue, squealing 'what bollocks' (che palle) when something annoys them. The image depicts the German expression - 'that gets on my balls' (November 2008)

Stork's delivery

'The stork bites an expectant mother' in the German saying, focussing on pregnancies (April 2008)

Left on the shelf

Time's running out: get yourself a boyfriend quick (September 2007)


A firm hairstyle favourite, forever connoted to the Germans. The illustration took simplicity to the max in its inspiration from German footballer Rudi Völler (November 2007)

Drunk as a skunk

Are those European stars that the Irish drunk see? (June 2007)


To finish, an image accompanying an article commenting on the Latin and Heminwayesque origins of the word 'ciao' (February 2007). Read an interview with Henning here

Translated from Las mejores ilustraciones de la Torre de Babel, de huevos enfadados a lenguas rotas