Perhaps @Christy could tell us if there have been any sort of major studies comparing languages and trying to quantify the relative ubiquity of figurative language, idioms, etc. in various tongues. (My linguistics education was long ago and no doubt inferior on these types of topics.) I’ve heard missionary colleagues talk about how some cultures have a tough time understanding non-literal descriptions. They just aren’t as accustomed to expressions like “raining cats and dogs”. (To them it seems almost like lying.)
Of course, I also know that sometimes western visitors to various cultures will initially get various impressions about a language and culture—but later on they will discover that there were levels of figurative language (for example) that was flying right over their heads. (And as Christy reminded us with that ESV review by Mark Strauss the other day, even Hebrew scholars sometime totally fail to catch important Hebrew idioms when translating!)
Brain flash: I think I recall a Star Trek episode were a culture ONLY used figurative language and inscrutable allusions with figures of speech that were very hard for outsiders to understand. It was as if their language NEVER spoke literally. (Of course, that was a fictional exaggeration but it was fun to think about.) Nothing was said in a direct manner. (Example: “Eve weeps” would translate as “I am regretful”, because every speaker in the culture would know the story of Eve, so a reference to her weeping would be a way to refer to having regret for something.)
Anyway, I just wonder if scholars have published some sort of statistical indexes to indicate how heavily various languages depend upon various kinds of features, such as figurative speech. (For example, I HAVE seen detailed measurements and comparisons of how INFLECTED a language is versus WORD ORDER DEPENDENCE. Thus, English is relatively uninflected but very heavily oriented towards auxiliaries and careful word order.**)
** I remember long ago when some professors would speak as if Greek was so inflected that one could scramble a sentence and one could still figure it out. And while that is partially true (though difficult!), it ignores the fact that word order in Koine Greek is still important. It just doesn’t have the same role as word order in English.