The English language has some weird sayings. Upon reflection, they are sometimes non-sensical:
“Sleeps like a baby” …meaning screams for food every four hours?
“Sweat like a pig”…um, pigs don’t sweat.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”…unless it makes you weaker
“Strike while the iron is hot”,
“There’s more than one way to skin a cat”
“When it rains, it pours”
There are a lot of them, and they are all steeped in our history, culture, and shared experiences. I wondered what other odd saying there are out there in the wider world. Boy, did I find some strange ones:
Here are some where the parallel to English is obvious:
Arabic: A camel cannot see its own hump. (The pot calling the kettle black.)
Iceland: Empty barrels make the most noise. (All hat, no cattle.)
Egypt: The son of a goose is a swimmer. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.)
France: I have other cats to whip! (I have other fish to fry!)
Arabic: God gives nuts to the man with no teeth. (The cobbler’s kids have no shoes?)
Holland: You’re pulling an old cow out of the ditch! (You’re beating a dead horse!)
Here are some from around the world that I like better than the English version:
Thailand: You are riding an elephant to catch a grasshopper. (You’re making a mountain out of a molehill?)
Africa: When the mouse laughs at the cat, there is a hole nearby (When the cat’s away, the mice will play!)
Italy: He’s like a dog in a church. (He’s useless!)
Portugal: You are feeding sponge cake to a donkey. (You are putting pearls before swine.)
Germany: Live like a maggot in bacon! (Dance like nobody’s watching!)
Armenia: Stop ironing my head! (You are driving me crazy!)
Mongolia: May your mustache grow like brushwood. (Good luck!)
And then there are these, which are awesome even if I don’t completely understand what they mean…
France: There’s more than one donkey called Martin at the fair.
Brazil: A dog bitten by a snake is afraid of sausages.
Norway: The bear and the bear hunter have different opinions
Kenya: No matter how hot your anger is, it cannot cook yams.
Sweden: There’s no cow on the ice!
Poland: Not my circus, not my monkeys.
Venezuela: If you see your neighbor’s beard burning, put yours in water.
Kenya: When the elephants fight, it’s the grass that gets hurt.
Mexico: With money, even the dogs will dance.
Russia: I’m not hanging noodles on your ears.
Turkey: If the world flooded, it wouldn’t matter to a duck.
Lithuania: A good ploughman can plough even with a goose.
Japan: Straighten the horns and you kill the bull.
Serbia: Pretend to be an Englishman.
Nigeria: He who is being carried does not realize how far away the town is.
And my all-time favorite:
Africa: Wealth is like hair in the nose; it hurts to be separated, whether from a little or a lot.
I hope you are separated from neither your wealth nor your nose hair!