Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wisdom coming from proverbs and sayings

Practice makes perfect – this is one of the saying language learners use very often.  It’s true with many other things and actions we do or learn in our lives. During a hangout we had the other day on Google+ we exchanged some of the proverbs and sayings used in various countries. And you know what? They’re not so unique as one might have thought. To every proverb someone gave, someone else gave a counterpart from their country.

Below there are some examples of this folk wisdom as the proverbs and sayings are often called. The list was completed thanks to the persons who participated in the Hangout: Anita, Entasar, Andrzej, Ted, Bojan and Davud.

Dutch: Oost west, thuis best.
Polish: Wszędzie dobrze, ale w domu najlepiej.
English: East or West home is best.

Dutch: Twee geloven op een kussen, daar slaapt de duivel tussen.
*English literal translation: Two religions on the pillow, the devil sleeps between. It seems to have appeared when the number of mixed marriages increased, foreseeing that there will come nothing good out of it.

Dutch: Een zwaluw maakt nog geen zomer.
English: One swallow doesn’t make a summer.
Polish: Jedna jaskółka nie czyni wiosny.
*In Dutch or English a swallow doesn’t make a summer, in Polish – a spring.

Dutch: Bezoek en vis blijven slechts drie dagen fris.  
Slovenian: Svakog gosta tri dana ima dosta.
*English literal translation: Visit and fish only stay fresh for three days. Meaning: a guest is welcomed but not for a long time.

Spanish: Dime con quién andas y te diré quien eres.
Slovenian: Povej mi s kom se družiš in povem ti kdo si.
Portuguese: Diz-me com quem andas, dir-te-ei quem és.
English: Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.

Portuguese: Deus ajuda quem cedo madruga.
Polish: Kto rano wstaje temu Pan Bóg daje.
Slovenian: Kdo rano rani dve sreči grabi.
Croatian: Tko rano rani dve sreče grabi.
*In Slovenian and Croatian they say literally: Early bird gets two worms.

Polish: Nie od razu Rzym zbudowano.
English: Rome wasn't built in a day.

Polish: Jeśli wejdziesz między wrony musisz krakać jak i one.
English: In Rome do as the Romans do.
Spanish: Donde fueres haz lo que vieres.
*These are not exact translations. In Polish we say “if you enter among the crows you have to croak as they do”. In Spain they say (literally): “Wherever you go do what you will see”.

French : L'air ne fait pas la chanson.
Polish: Nie wszystko złoto co się świeci.
English: Not everything that glitters is gold.
*French one says literally: The air doesn’t make a song.

Croatian: Siromašan kao crkveni miš.
Dutch: Zo arm als een kerkmuis.
Polish: Biedny jak mysz kościelna.
English: Poor as a church mouse.

English: Barking dogs seldom bite.
Dutch: Blaffende honden bijten niet.
Turkish: Öküz altında buzağı aranmaz.
Polish: Krowa, która dużo ryczy mało mleka daje.
*Funny that in Polish we say – in literal translation „The cow that moos much gives little milk”.

Arabic: التكرار يعلّم الحمار
Polish: Nauka czyni mistrza.
English: Practice makes perfect.
*Arabic version says literally that the repetition teaches (even) a donkey.

Basque: Bila eta bila eta azkenean bonbila.
Polish: Kto szuka ten znajduje.
English: He that seeketh findeth.
*This one is in Old English.

Dutch: Das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten.
Polish: Wylać dziecko z kąpielą.
English: Throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Of course there are many many more... If you want to share your favoirte proverb(s), feel free to do it in comments.



  1. German: Das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten.
    Dutch: het kind met het badwater weggooien.

  2. lepiej ptak w ręce wart jest dwóch w dachu

    besser den Spatz in der Hand, als die Taube auf dem Dach