He studies like a donkey. He is a donkey reader.

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sb70012

Senior Member
Azerbaijani/Persian
Hello,
Here in Iran we college students always joke to our classmates who study a lot. There is a sentence which we use to joke to a classmate who studies a lot.

Jennifer, look at Alex. Hahaha, he looks like ready for the exam. He studies like a donkey. He is a donkey reader.
(a donkey who reads a lot and never gets tired)
We never get it as an insult. If my classmates say that to me, sure I will laugh and say: "hahahaha no I'm not that much smart. I don't have enough study these days."

I want to know what you native English speakers say in the circumstance I explained.

Thank you so much
 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    'Study like a donkey' is not an English idiom as far as I know. Your description is confusing to me. If we say someone is a donkey, we mean they are not very smart. I would understand 'study like a donkey' to mean that the person has to study hard because they learn slowly. Is that what you mean?
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Yes exactly. When we say that he studies like a donkey it means that he is very smart student and studies a lot.
    I will be proud if one tells me "You study like a donkey" hahaha
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    What's your opinion about this expression: "He burns the midnight oil"

    Is it ok to be used in the context I explained? Is it a common expression among you native English speakers?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    What's your opinion about this expression: "He burns the midnight oil"
    It is quite a common idiomatic expression, but it conveys the meaning of "staying up very late to study". So the meaning definitely overlaps, but I'm not quite sure whether it's exactly the same.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It's more of a cultural thing, but in the UK students prefer to give the impression that they are naturally brilliant and don't have to do much studying to pass their exams. Of course, this is seldom true.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Thank you. Then I will use "bookworm"

    I.e. Alex you are really a bookworm.

    If I say it to a student, will he get sad or angry? I mean will he take it as an insult or bad behavior?
     

    bamzy777

    New Member
    Farsi
    Yes exactly. When we say that he studies like a donkey it means that he is very smart student and studies a lot.
    I will be proud if one tells me "You study like a donkey" hahaha
    I do not agree with you. I think it has a negative meaning! In Iran, 'he studies like a donkey' means that he has to study hard because he is not smart and he learns slowly.
    Certainly, I will not be proud of hearing that about myself!
     
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    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    I am not agree with you. (Say: I don't agree with you or I disagree with you)
    I disagree with you too.
    I am a college student and all students in the university say that and the definition is what I explained it in previous posts. It means studying very hard without any pause.
    I will explain it to you via a private message.
     
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    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    The English culture tends to have ambivalent views about studying.

    Someone who works hard is often called a swot, the verb to swot. It is not usually a compliment and I honestly cannot think of an idiom that is meant to convey studiousness in a positive / complimentary light
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Yes, I suspect "He's very studious" is about as close as you can get to this in English. Or at least, it doesn't to me suggest any negative connotations.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Is it common? I mean is it used these days?
    I'm not sure I'd describe it as common, but it's ordinary enough and certainly doesn't come across to me as sounding dated or old-fashioned. The real problem here is that, as suzi has said, there just isn't a widely-used idiomatic way of saying this. Unless someone else can come up with one.......
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Hello,
    Here in Iran we college students always joke to our classmates who study a lot. There is a sentence which we use to joke to a classmate who studies a lot.

    "Jennifer, look at Alex. Hahaha, he looks like ready for the exam. He studies like a donkey. He is a donkey reader.
    I would say: "Jennifer, look at Alex. Ha! Ha! Ha! He looks like he is ready for the exam. He has always got his head stuck in a book. He's a swot."
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    There is a compliment familiar to classics teachers at least: 'That smells of the lamp' (translated from the Latin).
    In other words, that piece of work shows you have been burning the midnight oil: it is very good work.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    To add:

    "To burn the midnight oil" = to work until very late at night. (From the days when domestic lighting was via a paraffin/oil lamp rather than electricity.)

    'That smells of the lamp' is more a curiosity than an idiom. It is very rare.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I might say someone burned the midnight oil to indicate they work long hours, but I have never heard 'the smell of the lamp.'

    Even saying someone is studious would need more context to decide if it was meant as a compliment or a criticism. It can be said warmly or in a sneering way.

    If I heard you say this donkey thing in a literal translation it would never enter my head that you meant it as a compliment because donkeys are used as metaphors for stubbornness and stupidity in the UK. I would assume it meant he was slow to understand, he struggled to keep up with the work.
     
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