Arabic proverbs

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by cherine, Apr 7, 2006.

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  1. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Hi all,
    While looking for an explanation of the proverb وافق شن طبقه (mentioned in this thread) I found some amusing proverbs, and thought I'd share them with you.
    If any of you can add to this thread -both in fusHa or colloquial-, maybe we can make a culturally interesting thread (what do you think?)

    Here's the first one I chose, I liked it because it sounded strange and bit "cute" too :) :
    مجمع الأمثال، للميدانى
    لا تبرقل علينا : هذا مأخوذ من البرق بلا مطر. ومعناه الكلام بلا فعل. يضرب للمتصلف. يقال: أخذنا في البرقلة. أي صرنا في لا شيء.
     
  2. SofiaB Senior Member

    English Asia
    قِرْد في عَيْن أُمّه غَزَال

    .........................................................................................................
    a monkey in hs mother's eye is a gazelle.
    Yemeni proverb
     
  3. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    Yes, excellent idea, Cherine.:thumbsup: In fact I have been wanting to start an Arabic proverbs thread, but never got around to it.

    Here are two of my favorites that I use often:


    I like this one because it is short and simple, but has a deep meaning, that needs to be expressed by a long sentence in English in order to get the full meaning:
    لقد اعذر من انذر
    laqad 2a3zara man anzar (A mix of FusHa and Egyptian pronunciation)
    Literally: He who warns is excused
    Meaning: He who gives you time to mend your ways by giving a warning has every right to act against you if you do not act accordingly.

    عري طيزك :warning: للدبابير وقول يا رب انت قدير
    3arri Tiizak :warning: lid-dababiir wi-2uul ya rabb, inta 2adiir (Egyptian pronunciation)
    Literally: Expose your bottom to the hornets, and say, "lord, you are the almighty one," that is, "Expose yourself ... and ask for God's help."
    Meaning: Don't complain at the consequences of your own stupidity.

    I will add more later as I think of them.
     
  4. Heba

    Heba Senior Member

    Coventry, England
    Egypt, Arabic
    Hi Cherine and all
    That is a great idea Cherine. I guess that this will be very interesting and helpful for people trying to learn Arabic.

    I would like to give proverbs which have equivalents in other languages. Here is one of my favourites:

    من خرج من داره اتقل مقداره (men kharag men daro it'al me'daro)-colloquial Egyptian pronounciation.

    The proverb literally means that a man can be humiliated if he gets out of his home, (but can be sure to preserve his dignity or pride as long as he is in his own house). In other words, this proverbs means that a man's home is his castle, and it can be equal to the spanish proverb ''mientras en mi casa estoy, rey me soy''
     
  5. ayed

    ayed Senior Member

    Riyadh
    Arabic
    Every tide has its ebb
    لكل جواد كبوة
     
  6. zahret el zenbak Senior Member

    Árabe
    غش القلوب يظهر في زلات اللسان​
     
  7. zahret el zenbak Senior Member

    Árabe
    اتق شر من أحسنت إليه.
    من قال لك قال عليك.
     
  8. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Thank you all for sharing :) this is getting good.:thumbsup:
    Ayed and Zahra, could you please give us more than just the text of the proverb; like : its story, its meaning, its origin, were is it used.... This would enrich the thread further.
    Thanks again for everyone :)
    Cherine
     
  9. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Yes Sofia, thanks for adding the translation, I was going to do it :)
    By the way, this proverb is also widely used in Egypt, but we add an article to the monkey :) القرد فى عين أمه غزال
    It's used with people who insist on ignore the bad things in the person they love :)

    A somehow contrary proverb, were monkeys are used too :) is : يا واخدة القرد على ماله، يروح المال ويبقَى القرد على حاله a very wise proverb that says : you who marry a monkey (a very bad or ugly reason) for his money, the money can be gone/lost but the monkey will remain what he is.
     
  10. SofiaB Senior Member

    English Asia

    تالعب بي حنش و تقله دودة
    from Yemen​
    You play with a snake and call it a worm.

    Hi Cherine, It( monkey) is the same meaning as Egypt but no article.
     
  11. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    Here are some more proverbs that I like. Hopefully they will be agreeable to all sensibilities.;)
    If anyone would like to add, clarify, or correct something, please do.:)


    يعمل من الحبة قبة
    *Transliteration: yi3mil min il-7abba 2ubba
    Literal English translation: he makes from a seed a dome.
    and
    زوبعة في فنجان
    Transliteration: zawba3atun fii finjaanin
    Literal English translation: A storm in a teacup.
    Meaning: Making much fuss about something little; as Shakespeare might say, “Much ado about nothing.”
    Equivalent English proverb: making a mountain out of a molehill (literal of first one); a storm in a teacup (literal of the second one)

    ما كل ما يلمع ذهبا
    Transliteration: maa kull ma yalma3u dhahaban
    Literal English translation: not all that glitters is gold
    Meaning: This means that something my not be as valuable as it first appears
    Equivalent English proverb: all is not gold that glitters (literal of the Arabic)

    ذئب في ثوب حمل
    Transliteration: dhi2bun fii thawbi 7amal
    Literal English translation: a wolf in lamb’s clothing
    Meaning: Something that seems harmless, but is actually dangerous. Be careful because appearances are not always what they seem in the sense
    Equivalent English proverb: A wolf in sheep’s clothing (literal); an iron fist in a velvet glove (but this is more accurately something that is strong/powerful on the inside, but beautiful/aesthetically pleasing on the outside; gentle demeanor or persona concealing a dogmatic personality).

    A related proverb is:

    تحت السواهى دواهى
    *Transliteration: taHt is-sawaahi dawaahi
    Literal English translation: Under the innocent looking are disasters/misfortunes.
    Meaning: Appearances are not always what they seem; don’t be fooled by appearances.
    Equivalent English proverb: Still waters run deep.

    إللي تزرعه تحصده
    *Transliteration: illi tizra3u tuHSudu
    Literal English translation: what you sow, you harvest/reap.
    Meaning: (1) related to the karma idea of whatever you do will come back onto you. (2)You will bear the consequences of your actions.
    Equivalent English proverbs: As you sow, so shall you reap; what goes up must come down; what comes around goes around.


    *I know these are used in Egypt. The other ones I am not sure, but I imagine all Arabic speakers would understand the intended meanings.
     
  12. ayed

    ayed Senior Member

    Riyadh
    Arabic
    What about :
    He makes a mountain out of a mole hill ?
     
  13. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    Yes, of course. I was just showing the literalness of the proverb. I suggested that as an English equivalent of the proverb. I combined the first two proverbs as they have similar meanings but it might have been better to separate them out.
     
  14. ayed

    ayed Senior Member

    Riyadh
    Arabic
    لاتعمل من الحبة قبة
    لاتصنع من الحبة قبة
     
  15. Heba

    Heba Senior Member

    Coventry, England
    Egypt, Arabic
    Here are more proverbs:
    البعيد عن العين بعيد عن القلب (el-be'eed an el'een, be'eed an el alb)- Colloquial Egyptian pronounciation.
    This proverb literally means'' out of sight, out of heart'', but I suppose that it has an English equivalent that goes like this ''out of sight, out of mind''.

    من يضحك أخيرا يضحك كثيرا (man yadhako akheeran, yadhako katheeran), standard Arabic pronounciation.

    This proverb is equal to the English proveb ''He who laughs last laughs best''.
     
  16. ayed

    ayed Senior Member

    Riyadh
    Arabic
    Cherine, does this suggest the meaning of the title of Shakespeare's play:
    Much ado about nothing ?
     
  17. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Frankly Ayed I'm not sure :) but I think that it may probably mean the same thing, yes.
    Actually it was the first time for me to read this word, and this is why I thought I'd share with you as something completely new, and to know if any of you guys have heard it before :)
     
  18. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    جبنا في سيرة القط جا ينط
    Transliteration: gibna fi siirit il-2uTT ga ynuTT
    Literal English meaning: We mentioned the cat (and) he came (and) jumped.
    Meaning: used when the person being spoken about suddenly comes.
    Equivalent English proverb: Speak of the devil.

    I know this is used in Egypt, but I don't know about elsewhere.
     
  19. SofiaB Senior Member

    English Asia
    From Bahrain nothing is better to scratch your back than your own fingernail.

    ما يحك ظهرك إلا ظفرك​
     
  20. fayabundem Junior Member

    Paris
    France French
    لاتجعل من الحبة قبة؟

    Is there an equivalent in Fusha??
     
  21. zooz

    zooz Senior Member

    Languedoc-Roussillon
    Arabic & Syrian Arabic
    دَنَبْ الكلب أعوج
    دق المي، مي

    for whom can't change his/her habit. like my grandma..:D
     
  22. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    الوقت من الذهب
    al-waqt min al-dhahab
    Literally: time is gold
    Meaning: time is precious.
    The equivalent English proverb is "time is money."
     
  23. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    I wasn't sure, but I found this:

    إن تذكر الشيطان يحضر فوراً
    in tadhkur ash-shaytaana yaHDur fawran
    If you mention the devil, he will promptly appear.

    This one is interesting because it is pretty much a literal translation of the English, which makes me wonder of the origins. I would be interested to know if this is used in the Arabic world. Hopefully some of the natives here can answer that question.
     
  24. zooz

    zooz Senior Member

    Languedoc-Roussillon
    Arabic & Syrian Arabic


    I didn't hear it before by anyone. anyway, in Syria we use the same cat proverb, and this one too:
    ازكور الديب وهيِّر القضيب
    mention the wolf and prepare the rod.
     
  25. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    There's a similar one in Egypt :) But it's sort of insulting (maybe because calling a person a dog is an insult, so we can't use it with our parents :D )
    ديل الكلب ما ينعدل ولو اتحط له قالب
    A rough translation would be : we can't straighten up a dog's tail even if we put it in a mold.

    There's a longer version of the same proverb, I'm not very sure about it but it goes something like this :
    غلبت أعالج فيك والطبع فيك غالب، وديل الكلب ما ينعدل ولو اتحط له قالب
    gholobt/ghelebt a3aaleg feek wet-tab3 feek ghaaleb, we deil el-kalb ba yen3edel we law'et7attelo 2aaleb
    (the underlined word is the one I'm not sure about) It means: I tried to change your bad habit/caracter but your nature prevails, [like] the dog's tail....
     
  26. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    ma aghla min il-wild illa wild il-wild
    Nothing is dearer than one's children except the children of one's children.

    I know this one is used in Egypt, but I don't know about other places.
     
  27. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Another variation of the same proverb :
    A3azz mel-weld, weld el-weld أعز مِ الولد وِلْد الولد
    It's used by/about grandparents spoiling their grandchildren :D much more than they did with their own kids (the fathers/mothers of those grand children)
     
  28. ayed

    ayed Senior Member

    Riyadh
    Arabic
    In Saudi, nomadic daily life when we mention a relative or a a friend ,then all of a sudden he appears approaching us , we say in colloquial:
    Tirri al-Theeb fa 'Ada.
    طري الذيب فعدا
    Wolf was mentioned ,then it came over!
     
  29. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Interesting proverb Ayed. What does Tirri mean, or what is its etymology ? Is it only used y nomads ?
     
  30. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    Here's another proverb I like:
    Maybe I should heed the message.:)

    الكلام من الفضة، ولكن السكوت من الذهب
    al-kalaamu min al-fiDDati, wa-lakinna as-sukuuta min al-dhahabi.
    Speech is silver, but silence is gold.
     
  31. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Here's one that's very Egyptian :)
    elly te7sebo moosa yetla3 fara3on اللى تحسبه موسى يطلع فرعون
    or -with a little variation of tenses- اللى حسبته موسى طلع فرعون
    I think the meaning is clear :D it's about mis-judging people, you think a guy/girl a good person (moosa) and he/she turns out to be a real bad person (fara3on)

    P.S. Of course moosa is the prophet Moses, and fara3on is the Egyptian king (the Pharoh)

    P.P.S. Please forgive my spelling mistakes :)
     
  32. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    Here are two more that are very Egyptian:

    لما أبو هول ينطق
    lamma abu hool yinTa2.
    When the Sphinx speaks.

    لما الهرم يتحرك (من مطرحه).
    lamma il-haram yitHarrak (min maTraHu)
    When the pyramid moves (from its place)

    Meaning of both: never!

    Equivalent English Proverbs: when pigs fly; when the cows come home.
     
  33. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Same meaning : fel-meshmesh فى المشمش
    (as if المشمش never ripes ! ) :)
     
  34. ayed

    ayed Senior Member

    Riyadh
    Arabic
    Tirri
    طري:فعل ماضي مبني للمجهول بمعنى "يذكر اسمه"
     
  35. fatiha Senior Member

    ARABIC -MOROCCO
    الجمل ما يشوف السنم تاعه يشوف غير تاع غيره
    يعني الانسان ينسى عيوبه ويشوف عيوب غيره
     
  36. zooz

    zooz Senior Member

    Languedoc-Roussillon
    Arabic & Syrian Arabic
    cherine's post reminds me of this one which I like:
    على هامان يا فرعون؟
    meaning: you think you can bluff me??; you can fool everyone, but not me!!
    :D :D

    anyhow, the equivalents in Syrian dialects are:
    ياما تحت السواهي في دواهي
    ياما ورا المراعي في دياب
    مي من تحت التبن
    in English: still waters run deep.

    السواهي: plural of ساهية; the unmindful/naive.
    دواهي: plural of داهية; the vulpine.
    المراعي: plural of مرعى; the grassland.
    دياب: plural of ديب; the wolf.
    التبن: straw/hay
     
  37. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    الضحك من غير سبب قلة أدب
    iD-DiHk min gheer sabab 2illit adab
    Laughing for no reason is rude.
     
  38. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    :) Yes this is one proverbe that we learn since our childhood, we must not laugh for no reason.
    But does قلة الأدب really translate as rude ?

    Now, here's another famous one :
    اجرى جرى الوحوش غير رزق لن تحوش
    egry gary el-wo7oosh, gheir rez2ak lan t7oosh
    It's -to an western eye- a "fatalist" proverb. I'm not sure I can translate it well, but it means that whatever a man does he will only get what he's destined to get.
     
  39. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    That's how I usually translate it. I guess you could also use "bad mannered" or "impolite" depending on the context. You're right, the latter two would be better in English translation of this proverb.
    Is it similar to:

    ما حدش ياخد إلا نصيبه
    ma-Hadd-ish yaakhud illa naSiibo.
    no one takes more than his fate (ordains).

    ?
     
  40. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Yes, it's the same.
    Slight correction ماحدش بياخد إلا/غير نصيبه
    غير is more used with this expression.
    Speaking of جرى الوحوش there's an Egyptian movies with that title "gary el-wo7oosh", speaking precisely about this idea : people not satisfied with what they already have in life (which is a lot) and fighting to get more.
     
  41. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    Here's my advice to them :D:

    القناعة كنز
    il-qanaa3a kinz
    Contentment (with one's lot) is a treasure.

    العين ما تعلىش على الحاجب
    il-3een mati3laash 3ala il-Haagib
    Know (and respect) your place (in life).

    اللي ما عندوش ما يلزموش
    illi ma3anduush mayilzamuush
    If you don't have it, you don't need it.
     
  42. zooz

    zooz Senior Member

    Languedoc-Roussillon
    Arabic & Syrian Arabic
    Originally, it should be like this: القناعة كنز لا يفنى

    This one is about work: مطرح ماترزق الزق
    الزق is to stick with the ل pronounced.
     
  43. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    إرضاء الناس حاجة لا تدرك
    irDaa2u an-naasi Haajatun laa tudraku

    Pleasing people is an impossible task.
     
  44. zooz

    zooz Senior Member

    Languedoc-Roussillon
    Arabic & Syrian Arabic
    من راقب الناس مات هماً

    Who observes the people dies of anxiety.

    (Colloquial) كول اللي بيعجبك والبيس اللي بيعجب الناس

    Eat what you like and dress up as people like.
     
  45. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    This proverb reminds me of another proverb about people who always look up (to others in envy) will get a crick in their necks, but I can't remember it right now.
    ----------------

    من يخطئ فهو إنسان ومن يعفو فهو ملاك
    man yukhti2 fa-huwa 2insaanun wa-man ya3fuu fa-huwa malaakun

    To err is human, to forgive is divine
     
  46. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    There's اللى يبص لفوق يتعب elli yboss lefo2 yet3ab (=He who looks up suffers/get tired).
    Here, "up" means of course something "above" your means.
    This one doesn't sound like a proverb to me, but rather like a wiseman's saying. Usually proverbs have certain musicality, if not ryhme.
    But it's a wise one anyway :)

    But there's a good one in this meaning :
    اللى بيته من ازاز ما يحدفش الناس بالطوب elly beito men ezaaz maya7ddefsh (maye7defsh) en-naas bet-toob. (=He whose house is of glass shouldn't throw stones on others).
     
  47. mansio Senior Member

    France/Alsace
    salâmatu l-insâni fî HafZi l-lisâni = You are in safety when your keep your tongue.

    man sakata salima = Same as above.

    3izzu l-insâni fi l-lisâni = The strength of man is in his tongue.

    wazanu l-insâni wazanu 3aqlihi = The weight of man is the weight of his intelligence.

    likulli faSlin jamâlahu = Each season has its beauty = One can find beauty in ugliness.

    al-3ilmu aHaddu mina s-sayfi = Knowledge is sharper than the sword.

    ra'su l-Hikmati makhâfatu Llâhi = The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God.
     
  48. ayed

    ayed Senior Member

    Riyadh
    Arabic
    We often say:
    إضاء الناس غاية لاتدرك
     
  49. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    Yes, you reminded me. The one I heard goes اللى يبص لفوق تتعبه رقبته .
     
  50. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    This is not a common version. Mine is more common :D

    Seriously : we say يتعب in absolute, without determining "what exactly" gets tired.

    Another proverbe about the same meaning :
    تروح فين يا صعلوك بين الملوك
    teroo7 fein ya sa3look bein el-molook
    Where do you think yourself going among kings you vagabond

    It means : don't get too ambitious, don't try to trade with people too "high" for you.
     
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