to carry coal to Newcastle

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by vandad, May 24, 2009.

  1. vandad Senior Member

    I'm really eager to know how can it be said in other languages "to carry coal to Newcastle"? We in Persian say "to carry caraway to Kerman " and Kerman is a historical city in the south of Iran,in wich the most part of caraway seeds of Iran grow.And in Italain and other members of the romance languages and even in Dutch is said "to carry water to the sea" .
  2. Saluton Banned

    Moscow, Russia
    You've posted this thread in the Russian section and received a correct answer: ехать в Тулу со своим самоваром (to go to Tula with one's own samovar).
  3. jonquiliser

    jonquiliser Senior Member

    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    In Swedish I think it is "to sell sand in Sahara", though I'm not sure if this is rather used for someone so shrewd that he could sell sand in Sahara.
  4. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

  5. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Vandad, it would have been a good idea to include links to the previous threads you posted in other forums: :)



    In German there is:
    - Eulen nach Athen tragen = carry owls to Athens (It is a calque of the Greek one and mainly used by educated people; many German native speakers wouldn't know the literal meaning of this idiom - still, it is the only idiom with this meaning which is used in all German speaking nations.)
    - Regional idioms as listed here at Wiki of which however I only know "einem Eskimo einen Kühlschrank verkaufen" which however is not (!) synonymous (literal meaning: "to sell a fridge to an Inuit", and the idiom means "being an excellent salesman"); thus I can't confirm if they're really idiomatic, or in what regions they're used.
  6. Wilma_Sweden

    Wilma_Sweden Senior Member

    Lund, Sweden
    Swedish (Scania)
    Yup, it would take superior sales skills to sell sand in the Sahara, which is similar to selling snow to Eskimos, but I've seen it used for pointless activities, too... :D

    The most common equivalent Swedish expression for doing something pointless is 'gå över ån efter vatten', i.e. to cross the creek for water, so similar but not exactly like the Romance/Dutch version.

  7. phosphore Senior Member

    In Serbian one could say raditi Sizifov posao, which (literally) means to do the work of Sisyphus and is not really synonymous to the English phrase, or trla baba lan da joj prođe dan, which means to de something pointless.
  8. poppi1986 New Member

    In Hungarian we have a loval variant "Vizet vinni a Dunaba" meaning 'to carry water to the Danube'.
  9. ilocas2 Senior Member


    nosit dříví do lesa - to carry wood into forest
    nošení dříví do lesa - carrying of wood into forest

    there is also nosit sovy do Athén - to carry owls into Athens, but this is rare, I think that I never heard it, I only saw it in written form
  10. ESustad Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    English - (Minnesota)
    You can also say "to bring sand to the beach" in English.
  11. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Welsh (all of these are copied from the Geiriadur yr Academi dictionary):

    bwrw heli yn y môr "throw brine into the sea"
    iro blonegen ~"to grease pig lard"
    iro hwch â bloneg "to grease a sow with lard"
    gwerthu mêl i berchen gwenyn "to sell honey to an owner of bees"
    mynd i 'ngheg i chwilio am fy nhafod "to go to my mouth in search of my tongue"
    gyrru halen i'r Heledd "to drive salt to Yr Heledd" (Yr Heledd is a placename meaning "the salt pit")
    golchi traed alarch "to wash a swan's feet"

    bera í bakkafullan lækinn "to carry into a brimming stream"
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2014
  12. Nino83 Senior Member

    In Italian (in addition to portare acqua al mare) there is portare vasi a Samo, nottole ad Atene, cavoli a Legnaia (vases to Samo, noctules to Athens, cabbages to Legnaia).
    In Sicily we say also portare paglia a Lipari (strow to Lipari).
    Last edited: May 12, 2014
  13. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
  14. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    "tæla mathay tel dewa" = "To put oil on an oiled head"
    Context: It is common in Bengal, and other parts of Indian subcontinent to put oil to your hairs before a bath.
  15. Geo.

    Geo. Member

    West of So'ton, Hants
    UK English (SE England)
  16. Radioh

    Radioh Senior Member

    Sydney, Australia
    It's the same in Vietnamese. We say chở gỗ về rừng, which literally means "to carry timbers to a forest".

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