Traditions across Europe-an eTwinning project

“Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, TRADITION and myth frame our response.” (Arthur Schlesinger Jr.)

Proverbs May 11, 2008

Filed under: Typical activities — ivasil @ 10:07 am

Proverbs are like pearls: precious, concentrated, hidden drops of wisdom our ancestors have forged and transmitted to us. They say a lot about the way people live and think.

This is why my pupils and I are suggesting you all a game: comparing our proverbs. They have chosen and translated a few proverbs on some of their favourite topics and here they are. Do you have similar ones? Will you tell us yours?


  • Show me your friend and I’ll tell you who you are.
  • Love your friend moderately, for he may be your enemy some day; hate your enemy moderately, for he may be your friend some day.
  • You get to know your friend in times of need.
  • One hundred friends is not enough, one enemy is too many.
  • Who is alike will rally (Such a sack, such a patch. Such a Turk, such a pistol)
  • A friend is worth much more than a bagful of gold.
  • Protect me, God, from my friends, for I can protect myself from my enemies.
  • Brother or no brother, the cheese is for sale ( meaning:don’t ask me for favours)
  • Friendship is a flower that does not grow by the road.
  • Where there’s two, the strength will grow.
  • Scold your friend privately and praise him in public.
  • Make brothers with the devil till you’ve crossed the bridge.


  • A man’s life is like an egg in a child’s hand.
  • The one who fears death lost his life.
  • It’s hard for the poor man to live and for the rich one to die.
  • The death shuts every mouth
  • I’d rather be an eagle for a day than a crow for a lifetime. (The reverse: Better a living ass then a dead wise man.)
  • The dead-man won’t return from his grave.
  • The one who digs another man’s grave will fall into it himself.
  • Anyone who sees birth, sees death.
  • Dead with the dead, living with the living
  • About the dead, nothing but good (words).
  • If the woman’s tongue were shorter, the man’s life would be longer.
  • Rather than to live dying, die living.
  • The one whom you won’t let die won’t let you live.


  • Money attract money and lice attract lice. (the rich will grow even richer and the poor, poorer)
  • He has as much money as the frog has hairs.
  • Money won’t bring schooling, but schooling will bring money.
  • The rich won’t believe the poor, the fed won’t believe the hungry.
  • Honesty can be neither bought, nor sold.
  • To a poor man not even money are drawn. (can’t translate this properly, it’s a rhyme)
  • I’d rather get milk from a barren cow than money from you.
  • And a funny one: It’s not money that makes you happy….it’s the amount of it.


  • The gentle cat scratches badly. (about hypocrisy, of course)
  • The cat wearing a bell catches no mice.
  • When the cat is not at home, the mice dance on the table. (this is a rhyme).
  • Whatever is born from a cat will eat mice. ( Another version: the owl will not hatch nightingales).
  • He bought a cat in a sack. (about imprudence)
  • The cat entered the sack, but her claws are showing.
  • The mouse with only one hole gets caught by the cat.
  • They get along as well as the cat an the dog.
  • To pull the cat by the tail (meaning living poorly, having no steady income etc.)
  • The cat has nine lives.

Play with us!

Irina and pupils from School 92, Bucharest


5 Responses to “Proverbs”

  1. Liliana Says:

    Wonderful idea, Irina!

    Here’s another one, about friendship: “Those who are similar, gather together”… or the well known English version “Birds of a feather flock together”. This is my favourite.

    We would love to hear proverbs from other countries!

    Liliana&the kids

  2. Gina Says:

    We’ve got another one about friends:
    ” Chi trova un amico trova un tesoro!”
    ” Who find a friend find a tresaure!”
    Or … more…:
    ” Chi va con lo zoppo impara a zoppicare!”
    “Who goes with the lame learns to limp!”

  3. ivasil Says:

    Thank you both for joining the game.
    I especially like the one that compares a friend and a treasure.

  4. ligregni Says:

    a nice idea to develop.

  5. ivasil Says:

    So, give us some of yours! we’re curious. 🙂

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