We spotted this very nice article on Visual News, How Other Countries Say “When Pigs Fly” and Other Idioms. It features the work of London-based illustrator and writer Genevieve Edwards.
“When pigs fly” or “when pigs have wings” are idiomatic English ways to exaggeratedly say “It’ll never happen.” Because pigs are obviously seen as absurdly non-aerodynamic and heavy. Benjamin Star also points out in his article how Mike Meyers in Wayne’s World put it, “and monkeys might fly out of my butt!” Another classic way to say express the same idea is “when (or until) hell freezes over,” such as the name of the reunion tour and live album of the recently deceased Glenn Frey and the Eagles.
Genevieve Edwards’ illustrations include the following phrases and their closest English equivalents:
- Cuando las ranas crien pelo (“When frogs grow hair,” or “Pigs might fly!”)
- Ich glaub, Mein schwein pfeift! (German: “I think my pig is whistling!” or “Blow me down!“)
- Tristo kosmatih medvedov! (Slovenian: “300 Hairy Bears!” or “Holy Moly!“
- Peigner la girafe (French: “Combing the giraffe,” or “Flogging a dead horse.”)
- 猿も木から落ちる (Japanes: “Even monkeys fall from trees,” or “Everyone slips up from time to time.”)