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Thread: Be satisfied with little...

  1. #1
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    Be satisfied with little...

    I am just trying to render something I just read in a Jewish proverb or saying:

    "Grab a lot and you have nothing at all; grab but a little, and you will have something" (Talmud, Yoma 80a)

    In Dutch it would be something like :

    "Better (to hold) one bird in your hand than ten in the air."

    I have a feeling that there might be other proverbs or saying conveying a similar message, but...

    What birds (etc.) do you hold on to ?

  2. #2
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    Hi,

    In Spanish we have a similar idiom as the one you have just said. We also talk about birds:

    "Más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando"

    Sayah

  3. #3
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    Thanks, but help me translate the first part: 'better pay cash (in hand) than ten flying' ? [PLEASE TRANSLATE, everyone, FOR THOSE POOR PEOPLE WHO DO NOT SPEAK/ READ your language ... ;-) ]

  4. #4
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    Sorry:

    "Más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando" means (literally): "It is better to hold one bird in your hand than hundred in the air." (a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush)

    Sayah

  5. #5
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    An English expression is A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

    I've seen the following expressions with similar meanings:

    French: Un "tiens" vaut mieux que deux "tu l'auras" (One "here you go" is worth more than two "you'll have it")

    German: Ein “hab' ich” is besser als ein “hätt' ich” or “Der Spatz (Ein Sperling) in der Hand is besser als eine Taube auf dem Dache” (...someone else will have to provide a translation!)

    Esperanto: Pli bona estas malgranda “jen prenu” ol granda “morgaŭ venu” (Better is a small “here you go” than a big “come tomorrow”).
    Nizo "Kiel malvarma akvo por suferanto de soifo, tiel estas bona sciigo el lando malproksima." Salomono

  6. #6
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    (Un pajaro is a bird ?)

  7. #7
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    Quote Originally Posted by ThomasK View Post
    (Un pajaro is a bird ?)

    Yes, pájaro is the Spanish word for bird.
    Nizo "Kiel malvarma akvo por suferanto de soifo, tiel estas bona sciigo el lando malproksima." Salomono

  8. #8
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    Quote Originally Posted by ThomasK View Post
    I am just trying to render something I just read in a Jewish proverb or saying:

    "Grab a lot and you have nothing at all; grab but a little, and you will have something" (Talmud, Yoma 80a)

    In Dutch it would be something like :

    "Better (to hold) one bird in your hand than ten in the air."

    I have a feeling that there might be other proverbs or saying conveying a similar message, but...

    What birds (etc.) do you hold on to ?
    I don't think the first saying means the same as the second. The first saying I've never found in Portuguese.

    The second is:

    Mais vale um pássaro na mão do que dois a voar.
    A bird in the hand is worth more than two in flight.
    Deuparth gwaith yw ei ddechrau.

  9. #9
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    Ok, I agree they do not really mean the same. The first one reminded me of the second - and i do think there might be a link (in the sense that you should not wanting too much, because you might lose too much). But I was mainly wondering about the translation of the bird proverb !

    The first was only the occasion for wondering about the other...

  10. #10
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    In Arabic it's عصفور في اليد خير من عشرة على الشجرة - 'usfoorun fi-l-yadd khairun min 'ashra 'ala ash-shajara - a bird in the hand is better than ten on the tree.

  11. #11
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    As for the German "Der Spatz (Ein Sperling) in der Hand is besser als eine Taube auf dem Dache”, the translation is, I think: a/ the sparrow in the hand is better than a pigeon (dove) on the roof (better a sparrow in the hand than...)

    [They have more imagination, those German speakers ! ;-)]

  12. #12
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    In Czech:
    Lepší vrabec v hrsti nežli holub na střeše. [Better (is) sparow in fistfull than dove on the roof.]

    In Lithuanian:
    Geriau žvirblis saujoj, negu garbanotas briedis girioj. [Better (is) sparow in fistfull than curly elk in the forrest.]
    Last edited by kusurija; 14th July 2008 at 5:43 PM. Reason: link
    Su pagarba: 薬屋 (S úctou: kusurija) As I'm too poor in English, please repair my mistakes. Prašau pataisyti, jei ką netiksliai parašiau.

  13. #13
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    Great these variations. Strange that there should be a 'Central European' variant based on the kind of birds rather than the number !

    [The elk story reminds me of our proverb that you should not sell the bear skin before you have shot the bear, which is also about certainty but... different]

  14. #14
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    In Polish:

    Lepszy wróbel w garści niż gołąb na dachu. [Better (is) sparow in fistfull than dove on the roof.]

    Just like in Czech

    [Also in Polish is a proverb (dictum/phrase?) with bear, it's: Nie dziel skóry na niedżwiedziu. The meaning is very close to your proverb.]

  15. #15
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    Russian:
    Лучше синица в руках, чем журавль в небе. (Luchshe sinitsa v rukakh, chem zhuravl' v nebe.)

    Literally: A titmouse in the hands is better than a crane in the sky.
    Last edited by Saluton; 15th July 2008 at 5:48 PM.

  16. #16
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    I just try to summarize : there seem to be two 'models'

    A
    [one bird] [in the hand] better than [10, 100] [in the air, far away]

    B
    [one little bird] [in the hand] better than [a big one] [somewhere far away, out of reach]

    The variations in the second part of the B type have been quite funny to me.

    Just wondering if there is a C type of some kind. Anyone who can call on an Asian or African friend for help ?

  17. #17
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    In italian, a possible translation could be " Meglio un uovo oggi, che una gallina domani"

    (Better)An egg today, rather than a chicken tomorrow.

  18. #18
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    In Hebrew: טובה ציפור אחת ביד מאשר שתיים על העץ (tova tzipor akhat bayad ma'asher shta'im al ha'etz) which means one bird in the hand is better than two on the tree.

  19. #19
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    In Croatian and Slovenian we have also connection with birds:

    Croatian:

    Bolje vrabac u ruci nego golub na grani.
    (Better sparrow in the hand than pigeon on the tree)

    Slovenian:

    Boljše vrabec v roki kot golob na strehi.
    (Better sparrow in the hand than pigeon on the roof)
    Last edited by jana.bo99; 17th July 2008 at 8:28 AM. Reason: Forgot something!
    “Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.” - Dr. Seuss

  20. #20
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    Re: Be satisfied with little...

    Some background taken from http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/64950.html:

    "Variations of the phrase have been known for centuries.

    The earliest English version of the proverb is from the Bible and was translated into English in Wycliffe's version in 1382, although Latin texts have it from the 13th century:
    Ecclesiastes IX - A living dog is better than a dead lion.
    Alternatives that explicitly mention birds in hand come later. The earliest of those is in Hugh Rhodes' The boke of nurture or schoole of good maners, circa 1530:
    "A byrd in hand - is worth ten flye at large."
    John Heywood, the 16th century collector of proverbs, recorded another version in his ambitiously titled A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, 1546:
    "Better one byrde in hande than ten in the wood."
    http://www.phrases.org.uk/images/bird-in-hand.jpgThe Bird in Hand was adopted as a pub name in the UK in the Middle Ages and there are still many pubs of that name there. This refers back to mediaeval falconry where a bird in the hand (the falcon) was certainly worth more than two in the bush (the prey).

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