Sayings from around the world

We all regularly use sayings or proverbs in our native language. Understood literally, they might not make much sense, but they speak volumes about our culture, mentality and way of life.

That’s why, in order to really grasp a new language, you should also learn a few sayings from that country. As well as making a language and its people more vivid, they can also be a lot of fun!

Saying

Our favourite sayings

We’ve picked some of our favourites from each of the 12 languages you can learn on busuu.

Russian

  • Saying: Здесь девять месяцев в году холодно, а три месяца – очень холодно. (Сибирь)
  • Literally: Here for 9 months a year is cold, and for 3 months is very cold. (Siberia)
  • What it means: It’s really cold.

Polish

  • Saying: Gdzie serce tam i szczęście.
  • Literally: Where there’s a heart, there’s happiness.
  • What it means: Happiness is where your heart is

French

  • Saying: Mieux vaut de l’amour plein la main que des biens plein le four.
  • Literally: A handful of love is better than an oven full of bread.
  • What it means: It is better to have a hand full of love than an oven full of goods

Portuguese (Brazil)

  • Saying: A loucura é breve, longo é o arrependimento.
  • Literally: Madness is short, regret is long.
  • What it means: XXXX

Japanese

  • Saying: 言わぬが花 (Iwanuga hana)
  • Literally: Saying nothing is a flower.
  • What it means: Telling something is easy, but sometimes it is better saying nothing to keep it calm.

English

  • Saying: A peacock that sits on its tail is just another turkey.
  • What it means: If you want to be noticed, show off your best qualities.

Chinese

  • Saying: 爱屋及乌 (Ài wū jí wū)
  • Literally: If you love someone, you love even the crow on the roof of their house.
  • What it means: In Chinese superstition, crows bring bad luck to the person living in the house they land upon. If you really love someone, you accept the crow on their home too

Arabic

  • Saying: إذا كان الكلام من فضة فالسكوت من ذهب 
  • Literally: If speaking is silver then silence is gold.
  • What it means: It’s better not to say anything rather to say something irrelevant.

Spanish

  • Saying: Desde Madrid al cielo.
  • Literally: From Madrid to heaven.
  • What it means: The only thing more beautiful than Madrid is heaven itself.

Turkish

  • Saying: Dil kılıçtan keskindir.
  • Literally: The tongue is sharper than the sword.
  • What it means: The word is really powerful and to be careful what you say because it can be hurtful so someone.

Italian

  • Saying: Chi dorme non piglia pesci.
  • Literally: Someone who sleeps will not catch any fish.
  • What it means: Only if you work really hard you can obtain really good results

German

  • Saying: Lustig gelebt und selig gestorben, heißt dem Teufel die Rechnung verdorben.
  • Literally: Someone who lived to the fullest and died happy, has spoiled the Devil’s bill.
  • What it means: if you have lived life to the fullest and yet still died with God’s blessing, your soul is in no danger to be ‘delivered’ to the devil

What are your favourite sayings?

Tell us in the comments below and explain what each one means. Have you found any interesting sayings in the language you’re learning? Or can you recommend any useful books or resources?

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