Walls have ears

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by El escoces, May 25, 2008.

  1. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    Further to the interesting thread from earlier today on the different words used in each language (except perhaps English) for different types of wall, I have a further question.

    In English, we might say, "The walls have ears" (meaning Be careful, you never know who might be eavesdropping). You might tap the side of your nose, in a knowing manner, while saying it (such action would be stereotypically melodramatic).

    Is there an equivalent idiom in other languages, or would one simply have to be more literal?

    El escocés
  2. Angel.Aura

    Angel.Aura del Mod, solo L'aura

    Roma, Italia
    In Italian we use the same expression (even if we don't tap the side of our nose :confused:)
    "The walls have ears" = (Anche) I muri hanno orecchie
  3. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    In Portuguese, too: "As paredes têm ouvidos".
  4. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    Interesting, many thanks. Suspicious (or cautious) bunch, we Europeans.
  5. Trisia

    Trisia mod de viață

    Romanians are pretty "cautious" as well:

    Walls have ears = Pereţii au urechi.
  6. Christo Tamarin

    Christo Tamarin Senior Member

    English: Walls have ears (as well).
    Bulgarian: (И) Стените имат уши.
    Russian: И у стен есть уши.
    Greek: (Kαί) οι τοίχοι έχουν αυτιά.
  7. Tamar

    Tamar Senior Member

    Israel, Hebrew
    In Hebrew: אוזניים לכותל
    [ozna'im la kotel]
  8. Miguel Antonio Senior Member

    Galego (Rías Baixas)
    In Spain we say: las paredes tienen oídos
  9. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)

    In Dutch: de muren hebben oren.


  10. Kangy Senior Member

    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Argentina [Spanish]
    Do you really?
    Over here we say "Las paredes escuchan" (walls hear)
  11. Topsie

    Topsie Senior Member

    Avignon, France
    French: Les murs ont des oreilles !
  12. In Polish we have the exact counterpart:
    "Ściany mają uszy".
  13. Dr. Quizá

    Dr. Quizá Senior Member

    Esuri - Huelva York.
    Spain - Western Andalusian Spanish.
    Here we say "las paredes oyen".

    On the other hand, there's ironically "sordo como una tapia" ("deaf as a wall").
  14. PABLO DE SOTO Senior Member

    Spain Spanish

    Yo también estoy de acuerdo en que las paredes más que escuchar o tener oídos, oyen.
    Aunque donde yo vivo es habitual la confusión entre escuchar y oír, en esta frase hecha, las paredes oyen
  15. בעל-חלומות Senior Member

    ישראל, עברית
    Which may be the source for this expression as it is from a book that was written in the sixth century (ויקרא רבה).
  16. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    Arabic: للحيطان آذان (lil-HiiTaani aadhaanun)
  17. kusurija

    kusurija Senior Member

    Lithuania, K. city
    Lithuania Czech
    In Czech:
    I stěny mají uši. ((also) walls have ears)

    In Lithuanian:
    Ir sienos girdi ((also) walls hears)
    or ir sienos turi ausis ((also) walls have ears)
    Last edited: May 28, 2008
  18. valdo Senior Member

    Riga, Latvia
    Latvia, Latvian
    In Latvian:

    Sienām ir ausis
  19. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    In Japanese:

    "Walls have ears" is a set phrase but it is actually a part of a well-known proverb:
    Kabe-ni mimi ari, shōji-ni me ari.

    Walls have ears, screen sliding doors have eyes.
  20. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    How curious that the saying should also exist that far away! I wonder if European languages got the expression from Japanese...
  21. Nizo Senior Member

    In Esperanto, la muro havas orelojn (the wall has ears). This expression is documented from the earliest days of Esperanto.
  22. blue_jewel

    blue_jewel Senior Member

    In Tagalog:

    It's really an idiom, there's no literal meaning to us but we rather use

    May pakpak ang balita or it's like the 'news have wings' in English which obviously means that news can easily or reach you faster as to have wings :)

    and for 'walls have ears" literally it's 'may tenga ang dingding'.

  23. avok

    avok Banned

    In Turkish, we have "Yerin kulağı vardır." which means "the ground has ears" (lit. an ear)
  24. kanya22 Member

    Tijuana, Mexico
    Mexican Spanish & English
    En Mexico tambien decimos "las paredes oyen" o "hasta las paredes oyen" :)
  25. xisanibo New Member

    Mandarin - China
    In Chinese we have the idiom "隔墙有耳" , which means "the walls have ears" or literally "there is a ear/are ears on the other side of the wall ". So intereting we have the same expression:)
    The origin of this Chinese idiom is the book "管子" (Guanzi) written in the the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States Period in Chinese history(770-221BC) . So does the Japanese saying:

    かきに耳(みみ)あり (the walls have ears)
    • 〔出典〕 『管子』君臣下 (Origin): Guanzi, Article: Junchenxia(literally means Lords and Ministers II)
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2008
  26. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    very interesting it exists in many languages

    Hungarian: A falnak is füle van. (even the wall has ears)
  27. piuet Member

    Bangkok, Thailand
    Spanish (Spain) and Catalan
    In Catalan we say Hi ha roba estesa, literally There are clothes hanging (to dry). The meaning is the same as Walls have ears, though.
  28. sakvaka

    sakvaka Moderoitsija

    Finnish: Seinilläkin on korvat. (even the walls have ears)
  29. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    I say it in Tagalog: Dinig man sa lupa/dingding.
  30. darush Senior Member

    in Persian: wall has mouse and mouse has ear.
  31. djara

    djara Senior Member

    Sousse, Tunisia
    Tunisia Arabic
    In Tunisian Arabic: en-nhar bi-3weenaatu, w illeel bi-wdhiinaatu The day with its eyes (has eyes) and the night with its ears (has ears).
  32. darush Senior Member

    too nice! please write it down in Arabic script.
  33. ancalimon Senior Member

    In Turkish apart from "yerin kulağı var : the ground has an ear" we also use "şeytan kulağına kurşun" meaning "a bullet the the ear of the devil" or maybe "lead (the chemical substance) to the ear of the devil" when we don't want something to happen we just said or heard.
  34. djara

    djara Senior Member

    Sousse, Tunisia
    Tunisia Arabic
    النهار بعويناتو والليل بوذيناتو
    In Modern Standard Arabic it would be النهار بعينيه والليل باذنيه
  35. Perseas Senior Member

    Athens - GR
    I have heard the expression "ears have walls" (I mean its translation in Greek) which in my view means the situation when someone wouldn't listen or accept other people's opinions. I don't think it has become a set phrase in Greek, but it's rather a word play with the known phrase "walls have ears". Does this phrase mean something in your language or not?
  36. darush Senior Member

    yes, in Persian when we are talking to a person and we never see a reaction, then we say: (it seems) I'm talking to [a] wall.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2012
  37. Fericire

    Fericire Senior Member

    South America
    Portuguese (Brazil)
    There is a Portuguese Proverb: «Montes vêem, paredes ouvem» (lit. Hills/Mountains/etc can see, walls can hear).
  38. jana.bo99

    jana.bo99 Senior Member

    Cro, Slo
    Slovenian: Stene imajo ušesa

    Croatian: Zidovi imajo uši

    It means, we have to be careful what we are talking about, even in some empty room or house.
  39. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
  40. seitt Senior Member

    Here's the Welsh equivalent: Mae llygaid gan y perthi a chlustiau gan y cloddiau.
    Literally: “There are eyes with the hedges and ears with the embankments.”
    I.e. “Hedges have eyes and embankments have ears.”
  41. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    Tagalog: May pakinig kahit ang dingding./May tenga ang dingding.

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