Be satisfied with little...

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by ThomasK, Jul 12, 2008.

  1. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    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. sayah Senior Member

    Lawrence, KS
    Spain. Spanish
    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. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    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. sayah Senior Member

    Lawrence, KS
    Spain. Spanish
    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. Nizo Senior Member

    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”).
     
  6. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    (Un pajaro is a bird ?)
     
  7. Nizo Senior Member


    Yes, pájaro is the Spanish word for bird.
     
  8. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    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.​
     
  9. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    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. Mahaodeh Senior Member

    Arabic and English
    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. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    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. kusurija

    kusurija Senior Member

    Lithuania, K. city
    Lithuania Czech
    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: Jul 14, 2008
  13. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    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. Gżegżółka

    Gżegżółka Junior Member

    Kraków
    Polska; polski
    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. Saluton Senior Member

    Moscow, Russia
    Russian
    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: Jul 15, 2008
  16. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    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. Hakkar Senior Member

    The Boot
    Italian
    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. Tamar

    Tamar Senior Member

    Israel, Hebrew
    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. jana.bo99

    jana.bo99 Senior Member

    Slovenia
    Cro, Slo
    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: Jul 17, 2008
  20. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    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."
    [​IMG]The 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).
     
  21. Another, perhaps a more literal possibility in Russian: Довольствуйся малым...
     
  22. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Do explain please ! (Thanks )
     
  23. Literally: Be pleased (довольствоваться) with little (малым).
     
  24. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks again, but so no metaphors involved (no birds, no elks, no pigeons, nothing) ?
     
  25. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Prague
    Hungarian
    Hungarian: Jobb ma egy veréb, mint holnap egy túzok. [it's better a sparrow today then a bustard tomorrow.]
     
  26. aruniyan Senior Member

    Tamil
    In Tamil, theres a saying...

    Pothum enra maname pon seyum marunthu.

    Pothum - Its enough

    Enra - said

    Maname - Mind is

    Pon - Gold

    Seyum - Making

    Marunthu - Medicine.
     
  27. aruniyan Senior Member

    Tamil
    Here is another one thats related to the topic.

    Iruppathai vittittu parappathai pidikka aasaipaduvathu

    Iruppathai(whatever there)

    Vittittu (leave out/Ignore )

    Parappathai pidikka(catch the flying one)

    Aaasaipaduvathu (to wish for)


    "Leave the one with us and try catch the one that's flying"
     
  28. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I am not sure I understand the mind/gold proverb: it is not the words that help, but the mind, the thinking? Do you see a link with being satisfied with little?
     
  29. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    Greek
    In Greek:

    Proverb «όποιος θέλει τα πολλά χάνει και τα λίγα» ['opços 'θeli ta po'la 'xani ce ta 'liɣa]
    "he who wants it all, loses it all"
    Proverb «κάλλιο πέντε και στο χέρι παρά δέκα και καρτέρι» ['kaʎo 'pende ce sto çeri pa'ra ðeka ce kar'teri]
    "better five in the hand, than the promise of ten"
    Ecclesiastes 9:4: «ὁ κύων ὁ ζῶν, αὐτὸς ἀγαθὸς ὑπὲρ τὸν λέοντα τὸν νεκρόν» (in modern pronunciation) [o 'ci.on o zon a'ftos aɣa'θos i'per ton 'le.onda tone'kron]
    "a living dog is better than a dead lion" (NKJV)

    Bonus: The person satisfied with little is «ολιγαρκής, -ής, -ές» [oliɣar'cis] (masc. & fem.), [oliɣar'ces] (neut.) --> contented with little < compound, Classical adj. «ὀλίγος» ŏlígŏs --> small, little (with obscure etymology) + Classical v. «ἀρκέω/ἀρκῶ» ărkéō (uncontracted)/ărkô (contracted) --> lit. to ward off, keep off, metaph. to suffice for, satisfy (PIE *ark-, to hold, contain, guard)
     
  30. aruniyan Senior Member

    Tamil
    I think it explains the results of saying its enough.
    The mind that says "Its enough" is the mixture/rawmaterial thats used to make the Gold (the result(jewels) that are amazing)
     
  31. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    In Tagalog; Maghangad ka ng Marami , tila walang anuman/ dumampot ka ng kaunti at ikaw ay masisiyahan. ( too much seems nothing at all , but get a portion/(what exactly you need) and be satisfied)
     

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