giving away from the queen’s purse

< Previous | Next >

High on grammar

Senior Member
Farsi
Hello everyone:

I am looking for an English equivalence of a Farsi proverb which roughly translates into English as: ''He is giving away from the queen’s purse'', which is said of someone who pretends to be generous at other people’s expense.
Thanks
 
  • Orble

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    But the best literal translation I think, rather than substituted idioms from English, would be,

    He is giving from the Queen’s purse.​

    (Rather than “away from”)
    I love it as a idiom! Better than the English ones!
     

    Orble

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    And yes you can say, “you are robbing robbing Peter to pay Paul” and can use all sorts of other variations like “don’t rob Peter to pay Paul”.

    But to me this expression is not close enough to what I think is the intended meaning of the Farsi proverb. It doesn’t give any sense of pretended generousity like the proverb does.
     

    High on grammar

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    And yes you can say, “you are robbing robbing Peter to pay Paul” and can use all sorts of other variations like “don’t rob Peter to pay Paul”.

    But to me this expression is not close enough to what I think is the intended meaning of the Farsi proverb. It doesn’t give any sense of pretended generousity like the proverb does.
    Thanks
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    I am looking for an English equivalence of a Farsi proverb which roughly translates into English as: ''He is giving away from the queen’s purse'', which is said of someone who pretends to be generous at other people’s expense.
    What, exactly, is the pretence? Is he concealing the fact that his gifts are not his to give? Or is he pretending to be generous, while actually expecting to profit in some way?

    The latter sense makes me think of giveways by businesses, or pork-barrelling by politicians.
    There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
     

    Orble

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    In my mind it’s more your first alternative - the pretence is that his apparent willingness to give makes him appear generous, and yet the funds and the generosity are in fact not his but those of his queen.
     

    High on grammar

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    What, exactly, is the pretence? Is he concealing the fact that his gifts are not his to give? Or is he pretending to be generous, while actually expecting to profit in some way?

    The latter sense makes me think of giveways by businesses, or pork-barrelling by politicians.
    There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
    I think my definition of the Farsi proverb was inaccurate. Let me create a situation in which the proverb is used in everyday conversation:
    C claims that B owes him 500.00 dollars , but B disagrees:
    A: Give him however much he wants
    B: What! Are you giving from the queen’s purse? ( meaning “ don’t try to be generous with my money”)

    It is mostly used in the question form.
    A Farsi source gives this English proverb: [ he is of fruit that wants an orchard] which sounds like an archaic proverb no longer in use.

    Thanks
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    I see. So it is a barb directed at a third party who is not the donor. Not quite Put your money where your mouth is.

    I have never heard of the English proverb, archaic or otherwise. But Samuel Johnson might have had it in mind when he said:
    Sir, he throws away his money without thought and without merit. I do not call a tree generous that sheds its fruit at every breeze.
     

    Orble

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Well, I thought we were done with this but we begin again instead!

    The proverb would seem to be this Scottish one in this century old book partially accessible on Google Books, A Complete Collection of Scottish Proverbs by James Kelly (published in 1818):

    “He is free o’ fruit that wants an orchard”
    Spoken to them who tell how free and liberal they would be, if they had such things, or were such persons.
    Translating this a bit in modern terms, I think the meaning is,

    Spoken to a person who claims how generous they would be if they had the money to be generous.
    And now taking this meaning across to the Farsi proverb, I suspect we have a meaning something like:

    “Are you giving from the queens purse?”
    What makes you the expert in how generous I should be with my money, when you don’t have any money of your own to give?​

    What do you think High on Grammar?
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    Good catch, Orble.

    He is free o’ fruit that wants an orchard. (attested to 1721)

    Or as we might say today:
    Whoever has no orchard is generous with the fruit.

    Or even:
    Fools are very good at telling others what to do.
     

    High on grammar

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    Good catch, Orble.

    He is free o’ fruit that wants an orchard. (attested to 1721)

    Or as we might say today:
    Whoever has no orchard is generous with the fruit.

    Or even:
    Fools are very good at telling others what to do.
    Awesome. [Whoever has no orchard is generous with the fruit]
    I think that's exactly what I am looking for.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    The orchard-fruit metaphor is interesting as a curiosity, but (sorry to be a wet blanket) I don't think it's easily understandable or recognisable. I wouldn't use it unless I were trying to explain the Farsi proverb, as you have done here.

    (Incidentally, my mind first went to politicians being irresponsibly free with the public purse, and this familiar saying:

    The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money.)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top