When I received my copy of "Say What?" in the mail, my first impression was, "Wow, is this ever a small book!" Don't let the size fool you; this little text is an enjoyable foray into the colorful world of expressions from many of the world's languages.
The book is broken up into three sections: idioms, proverbs, and languages. The first two chapters are organized by notions ("displeasure" = "go fly a kite"; "overabundance" = "too many cooks spoil the broth") with examples from three or four different languages. The third chapter is comprised of numerous languages, each with a couple more idioms or proverbs.
All examples are provided first in the original language (and transliterated to provide an approximate pronunciation, if the language does not use Roman script), followed by a literal translation and then by the approximate English equivalent. Using the "displeasure" example cited previously, the reader would learn that in Spanish, the expression is rendered as "go fry some asparagus" while a Finn would be instructed to "go ski into a spruce tree."
The subtitle of the book is "Talk Like a Local Without Putting Your Foot into It" is a bit overambitious; in fact, you would be hard-pressed to find more than five or ten expressions from any one language. That said, you won't buy this book if you are looking to expand your knowledge of idioms in a single language. Rather, you purchase this book to get a better understanding of the incredible variety of expressions that the world's languages possess. "Say What?" is a great little gift -- inexpensive, small, a perfect stocking-stuffer -- for the wordsmiths, linguists, and travellers in your life.