?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Sauntering Vaguely Downward [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat

Serious Business | Flickr
Bounty Information | Wanted Dead or Alive: Mad Scientess Nanila
Deeds of Derring-Do | Full of Wild Inaccuracies and Exaggerations

I'm in a pickle. [20081016|08:09]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
[Tags|, ]
[the weather today is |halp]

My conversation partner wishes to talk to me about proverbs. (I presume he would like to do this because the subtleties of their meanings and origins prove difficult for a non-native speaker.) Apparently, he collects them. I'm going to give him a list and provide some context. I found this, which has 1000, but that's probably too many so I'm going to try and narrow it down to ones that provoke strong reactions in English-speaking people.

Please help me out and tell me either your most or least favourite proverb. Or both.

The one I dislike the most is "Better safe than sorry". Rubbish. If I never took any risks, I'd be bored to death.
linkReply

Comments:
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
[User Picture]From: chibaraki
2008-10-16 07:40 (UTC)
Proverbs drive me a little crazy in general. I always hated "A rolling stone gathers no moss" because I never saw what it had to do with anything. I'm still not entirely clear on what it's supposed to mean -- is gathering moss a good thing or a bad thing? Is it saying to be patient, or to keep moving lest you become green and fuzzy?

I don't think this is a proverb so much as a figure of speech, but it amused me greatly:

My boyfriend's sister's love of shopping is well-known. It is in fact so well-known that even though I've never met her I know alllll about how much she loves to shop. When I met his parents I discovered that his mother also loves to shop, and commented that clearly his sister comes by her love of shopping naturally. His father responded, "Yes, she didn't lick it off a stone."

It's apparently a pretty uniquely Irish expression, and it cracked me up.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ironed_orchid
2008-10-16 07:42 (UTC)
I've been told that gathering moss is considered a bad thing in the US where movement and progress are win, and a good thing in the UK, where settling down and putting down roots is considered worthy and socially responsible behaviour.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]From: ironed_orchid
2008-10-16 07:40 (UTC)
In which case "That which doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger" should be more up your alley. It's been attributed to Nietzsche, but I'm not sure if it originates with him.

I like "Necessity is the mother of invention"

Also, two aphorisms which may not be proverbs but should be are:
"Lotteries are a tax on people who can't do maths"
and
"73% of statistics are made up on the spot."
(Reply) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-10-27 22:57 (UTC)
I figure most proverbs start off as something one person said to another down the pub, and the second person was just sober enough to remember it.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: greyface
2008-10-16 09:51 (UTC)
I hate: Curiosity killed the cat.
The only redeeming portion of it is better stated as "Mind your own business." But using that as a club to beat curiosity over the head is bullshit.

I have grown to like: If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: wiggyfish
2008-10-16 14:46 (UTC)
I hear the hammer proverb a lot, and have a bit of a problem with it.

I think it's supposed to mean something like "If you don't develop your tool set, you may be able to resolve problems but your solutions will often be brutish and messy."

However, it's often used more to the effect of, "Well, at least I have a hammer, so let's get moving."
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]From: opheliablue
2008-10-16 09:57 (UTC)
Walls have ears.
I have yet to see a wall with ears and this one creeps me out.

After a storm comes a calm.
Not always and this is misleadingly optimistic.

A man is known by his friends.
Crap!

Seeing is believing.
Bullsh*t (in my opinion)

As soon as man is born he begins to die.
Partytime! NOT

Better late than never.
This is not always true.

A fool and his money are soon parted.
Untrue. E.g. Paul McCartney, Sting.

The early bird catches the worm.
This may be true but it makes me feel sick.

A stitch in time saves nine.
I can't sew.

Crime does not pay.
It does if you rob a bank and get away with it.

Dead men tell no tales.
Oh yes they do!

Ok so I got a bit carried away :)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-10-27 22:43 (UTC)
A fool and his money are soon parted.
Untrue. E.g. Paul McCartney, Sting.


This made me LOL. Twice.

Dead men tell no tales.
Oh yes they do!


Keeping journals is a bad idea.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: chickenfeet2003
2008-10-16 10:10 (UTC)
"Ne'er throw a clout 'til May be out"

I am sure this is immensely useful but I have no idea what it means.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-10-16 20:10 (UTC)
Something about gardening? Gardeners can be quite pugnacious.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
Meaning of phrase - (Anonymous) Expand
[User Picture]From: foreverdirt
2008-10-16 12:06 (UTC)
I'm very fond of "The mouth often breaks the nose."
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: attictroll
2008-10-16 13:15 (UTC)
Ooo, neat one. Thanks!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: attictroll
2008-10-16 13:27 (UTC)
"A stitch in time saves nine."
'Do it now, you lazy bastard, while it's a small task.'

"The short way's the long way."
Shortcuts are a waste of time. You'll spend as much time and pain, if not more, trying to get that jury rig, half-assed effort to work. Take the time at the start to set the job up right.

"You have eyes bigger than your stomach."
You have an overly optimistic opinion of your capacities.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-10-27 22:49 (UTC)
I think you'll like this. It's the Persian take on a familiar one.

"A coconut shell full of water is an ocean to an ant."
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: wiggyfish
2008-10-16 14:38 (UTC)
Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you'll feed him for a lifetime.

Assuming he lives near water, of course. For me, especially at work, this means "I could resolve this problem quickly, but if I stop and explain to you what it means, maybe you will take care of it yourself next time."

Fuck with the techies, work in the dark.

Literally, "You whiny abusive actors best reco'nize that if you don't straighten out and grow a social skill, you will end up in a situation where the audience won't be able to see or hear you because you and your ilk don't know how to work the equipment."

Figuratively, it applies anywhere that someone depends on something they lack the knowledge or time to do. Prank call your lab equipment vendor, and your samples rot while you wait for a repair. Piss Mom off near dinnertime, and you get sandwiches or your own devising. Poop in the janitor cart, and you get overflowing trashcans until a new janitor is found.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-10-27 23:00 (UTC)
One of my favourites is, "Shit rises to the top". Because while there are plenty of lovely, competent, brilliant people in high positions, there are also plenty of gibbering idiots.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: smallfurry
2008-10-16 19:12 (UTC)
I prefer "What doesn't kill us makes us stranger," but then again i'm a smart-ass.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: taische
2008-10-16 15:17 (UTC)
Circumstances do not make the man; they merely reveal him to himself.

Epictetus(?)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-10-16 20:05 (UTC)
If he has the sense to pay attention!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nimoloth
2008-10-16 16:16 (UTC)
I like nature proverbs.

"Oak before Ash, in for a splash. Ash before Oak, in for a soak." Regarding the weather of spring depending on which trees puts out leave first. However, in my experience, ash is always the last tree to put out leaves! Maybe that's because I'm in Scotland.

"Red sky at night, shepherd's delight, red sky in morning, shepherd's warning." The colour of the sky being defined somewhat by the atmospheric conditions, as is the upcoming weather.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-10-16 20:03 (UTC)
I've never heard the first one before! Wonder if it's UK-specific?

My grandfather taught me the second, except with "sailor" in place of "shepherd", but this is likely influenced by his stint in the Navy in WWII.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: smallfurry
2008-10-16 19:30 (UTC)

This reminds me of a story.

Once upon a time, I was dating a boy who thought it would be very sweet to give me a framed poster entitled "Proverbidioms," which is a ghastly, student bookstore, Bruegel-esque thing which illustrates common proverbs and idioms (hence the terribly clever title). It also had a brass plaque bearing my name and my birthdate nailed to the bottom of the frame. Possibly the most hideous present ever.

Anyway, of course it is online. You can see it here (which would be a link except i've no facility for html whatsoever)
www.tebreitenbach.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=1&zenid=033013025506ae8b4d8f7be5981f6c16
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nanila
2008-10-16 20:02 (UTC)
Wow, that's fantastically hideous. I can see it making a good party game, though. The person who finds the most wins a prize. The person who finds the least has to take it home.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: chickenfeet2003
2008-10-16 20:31 (UTC)

Foprgot this traditional gem

A woman, a dog and a walnut tree
The more you beats 'em, the better they be
(Reply) (Thread)
From: tdj
2008-10-17 02:46 (UTC)
Empty vessels make the greatest noise.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: tdj
2008-10-17 05:44 (UTC)
Almost forgot this one: Arcum nimia frangit intensio (too much tension breaks the bow).
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>