English Proverbs

Today’s article is a guest post by Ivana.

A proverb is a simple saying popularly known and repeated throughout time, which conveys a truth, a thought or a reflection, often metaphorically, based on the practical experience of humanity. A proverb describing a basic rule of behavior is known as a maxim.

Proverbs are mainly used by adults, since they have more experience in life –and in proverbs- than children. Many times, they use them to give their opinion on a certain matter without sounding offensive. In this way, proverbs are used like quotes by popular people.

When seeking to learn English in London students enjoy discovering popular English proverbs, among which, we find:

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” used to express that it is better to have something for certain than the mere possibility of getting something better.

The early bird catches the worm” means that if you wake up and get to work early, things will turn out good for you.

Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today” This one is quite straightforward, no metaphors involved. It basically means that you shouldn’t procrastinate.

To put all eggs in one basket” this proverb means to make everything dependent on only one thing, put all your resources in one place, etc. In generally, people recommend “not to put all eggs in one basket”, although in gambling, many people have won a lot of money with this strategy.

When it comes to translating proverbs, the task is quite a challenging one: many times, you can’t translate literally, as either the idea doesn’t convey the same thing in the target language (there might be cultural nuances involved) or there is already a widely spread proverb which literally means something very different, but figuratively, the same idea is expressed. In languagetrainers.co.uk the following equivalences are taught:

(English to Spanish)

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”: “Mejor pájaro en mano que cien volando” (lit. “a bird in the hand is better than a hundred of them flying”).
Quite similar, right? Sometimes the words are literally something very different:

The early bird catches the worm”: “A quien madruga, Dios lo ayuda” (lit. “Him, who gets up early, is helped by God”)

Proverbs in different languages are very fun to learn, especially because they can vary widely depending on where they are said.

Ivana represents www.languagetrainers.co.uk and like to publish articles related to languages, travel and business . LanguageTrainers offers an effective way to learn English in London or any other language in any city.

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