If the mountain won't come to Muhammad...

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by sakvaka, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. sakvaka

    sakvaka Moderoitsija

    How would you express this saying in your languages?

    English: If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain.
    Finnish: Jos vuori ei tule Muhammedin luokse, on Muhammedin mentävä vuoren luokse.
    Swedish: Då berget inte kommer till Muhammed, måste Muhammed komma till berget.
  2. Maroseika Moderator

    If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, means Moses paid more. (Sorry for off-topic joke).

    Если гора не идет к Магомету, Магомет идет к горе.
  3. ilocas2 Senior Member


    Když nejde hora k Mohamedovi, musí Mohamed k hoře.

    when - doesn't go - mountain - to - Muhammad, must - Muhammad - to - mountain.
  4. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
    In Portuguese: Se a montanha não vai a Maomé, Maomé vai à/até a montanha.
  5. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek:
    «Όταν δεν πάει ο Μωάμεθ στο βουνό, πάει το βουνό στον Μωάμεθ»
    'otan ðem'bai* o Mo'ameθ sto vu'no 'pai to vu'no ston Mo'ameθ
    lit. "when Muhammad doesn't go/is not going to the mountain, the mountain goes/is going to Muhammad"


    [ð] is a voiced dental non-sibilant fricative
    [θ] is a voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative
  6. Angel.Aura

    Angel.Aura del Mod, solo L'aura

    Roma, Italia
    Se la montagna non va a Maometto, Maometto va alla montagna.
  7. Kotbury Junior Member


    Nie przyszła góra doMahometa, Mahomet przyszedł do góry.
  8. Kotbury Junior Member

    Sorry, once again - this is the correct one:
    Nie przyszła góra do Mahometa, Mahomet przyszedł do góry.
  9. Vasiliy Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch
    Als de berg niet naar Mohammed wilt komen, dan moet Mohammed ma naar de berg gaan
  10. Rallino Moderatoúrkos

    Wow, all the languages have exactly the same idiom o_O Turkish doesn't have it. I thought you'd want to know.
  11. Serafín33

    Serafín33 Senior Member

    Vancúver, Canadá
    Español de El Salvador
    Spanish: Si la montaña no va a Mahoma, Mahoma va a la montaña.
    Si la montaña no viene a ti, ve a la montaña.
    Si la montaña no viene a mí, voy a la montaña.

    Related well-known joke in Spanish: Si la montaña viene hacia ti, ¡corre! ¡Es un derrumbe/alud!
    (If the mountain comes to you, run! It's a landslide!)
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010
  12. Rallino Moderatoúrkos

    Perché a Maometto? Normalmente si dice andare da qualcuno, no?
  13. Mahaodeh Senior Member

    Arabic and English
    Neither does Arabic have it. I wonder where the proverb came from to start with.
  14. origumi Senior Member

    Apparently England, early 17th century. It first appears in the following places.

    Francis Bacon, Essays, 1625
    John Owen, 1643
  15. phosphore Senior Member


    Ako neće breg Muhamedu, onda će Muhamed bregu.
  16. Orlin Banned

    Bulgarian: Ако планината не отиде при Мохамед, Мохамед ще отиде при планината.
  17. Tamar

    Tamar Senior Member

    Israel, Hebrew
    In Hebrew, it's other way around: if Muhamad won't come to the mountain, the mountain will go to Muhamad.

    אם מוחמד לא יבוא אל ההר, ההר יבוא אל מוחמד
    [im mukhamad lo yavo el ha-ar, ha-ar yavo el mukhamad].
  18. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I wondered in what context the phrase had been used, and noticed that the chapter where Bacon mentions it, is about boldness, and he refers to it as 'Mahomet's miracle'. But then he refers to this feature of bold men:

    (Thanks for the question, Sakvaka !)
  19. nooij Junior Member

    Dutch - Netherlands
    The singular third person form of the verb 'willen' (to want) is 'wil' not 'wilt'. And... adding 'ma' (mom) in the middle of the sentence makes no sense. I think you meant 'maar' (but), and in that case it's correct although not necessary in this translation. ;)
  20. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    Tagalog: If the mountain don't move/answer for you, then it is not fit for you. = kung walang katugunan mula sa kabundukan, hindi nga ukol sa iyo. Mountains in various places are regarded as holy sites, In my country, Mt. Banahaw is a holy/sacred mountain where Holy ONE use to visit/stand.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2012
  21. Fericire

    Fericire Senior Member

    South America
    Portuguese (Brazil)
    Which is the right one: A or B ?
    a) If Muhammad will not go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Muhammad.
    b) If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain.

    I mean, both can be found on Google with millions of results...
  22. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod

    French (lower Normandy)
    I'm not sure I've found the proper translation of this in French but I think the literal translation would be understood:
    "Si la montagne ne vient pas à Mahomet, Mahomet ira à la montagne."

    I would that in French, the variation which appeared in the novel Le Bossu is far more known and used:
    "Si tu ne viens pas à Lagardère, Lagardère ira (/viendra) à toi."
    (Lagardère being a character)
  23. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Olá Fericire,

    For me only version b makes any sense.
    Since the proverb means "If one can't get one's own way, then one must accept an alternative."
    It's a little like the "King Canute and the tide" story, that's to say, Mahomet (though a prophet) is still just a man.

    Version a looks like a deformation of the Biblical text Mattew Ch. 17 verse 20.

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