Proverbs and Quotations about Languages

urlLanguage is not only our job it is our life. It is one of the basic elements of communication and living as a society. It is not surprising that there are many sayings about languages. 

Here are different quotations or proverbs in different languages. They are not only sentences; they also reflect the viewpoint of the societies… 🙂

Since it is a long list, I will leave the English, French, Latin and Spanish ones for the next blog post! 🙂

 

Aromanian

Limba dultsi multu adutsi
sweet language brings much

 

Breton

Hep brezhoneg, breizh ebet
Without Breton there is no Brittany

 

Bulgarian

Човекът е толкова пъти човек, колкото езика знае
(Čovekãt e tolkova pãti čovek, kolkoto ezika znae)
the more languages you know, the more you are a person

 

Chinese (Classical)

書不盡言 言不盡意
(Shū bù jìn yán yán bù jìn yì)
Writing cannot express all words, words cannot encompass all ideas.
– Confucius

學而時習之 不亦說乎
(xué ér shí xí zhī, bù yì yuè hū)
Is it not enjoyable to learn and practice what you learn?
– Confucius

Chinese (Mandarin)

天不怕,地不怕,只怕广东人说普通话。
(Tiān bù pà, dì bù pà, zhǐ pà Guǎngdōng rén shuō Pŭtōnghuà)
I fear neither heaven nor earth, I only fear Cantonese speakers trying to speak Mandarin.

学一门语言,就是多一个观察世界的窗户。
(xué yì mén yǔyán, jiù shì duō yí ge guānchá shìjiè de chuānghu.)
To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.

Chinese (Cantonese)

天唔驚,地唔驚,只驚北方人講廣東話唔正。
(Tìn m̀h gìng, deih m̀h gìng, jí gìng bākfòng yàhn góng Gwóngdùngwá m̀hjeng)
I fear neither heaven nor earth, I only fear Mandarin speakers speaking Cantonese badly.

 

Czech

Kolik jazyků znáš, tolikrát jsi člověkem.
The more languages you know, the more you are human.
or lit. “As many languages you know, as many times you are a human being”

– refers not just to the ability to communicate in different languages, but also the ability to share in various spiritual spheres of different cultures .
– Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk

Greek

Ἡ γλώσσα δὲν ἔχει κόκκαλα καὶ κόκκαλα τσακίζει
(I glóssa den éhi kókala ke kókala tsakízi)
Language/Tongue has no bones but it breaks bones.

 

Hawaiian

I ka ‘ōlelo no ke ola; i ka ‘ōlelo no ka make
In the language there is life; in the language there is death

 

Hebrew

Click here to hear this phrase הֵחַיִּים והַמָווֶת בְּיָד הַלָשׁוֹן
Life and death are in the hands of the tongue
= mind what you say, for it might have great consequence

 

Hindi

एक भाषा की बोली दूसरी की गाली | (ek bhaashaa kii boli doosrii kii gaalii)
A normal word in one language is an abusive word in other language

 

Hungarian

Nyelvében él a nemzet.
The nation lives through its language.
– Gróf Széchenyi István

 

Ilocano

Ti táo nga mannaríta, awán ti ania nga magapuánanna.
A man that talks too much accomplishes little.

 

Indonesian

Bahasa menunjukkan bangsa.
Language represents the nation.

Bahasa jiwa bangsa.
Language is the soul of a nation.

 

Irish (Gaelic)

Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam.
A country without a language is a country without a soul.

Is fearr Gaeilge bhriste, ná Béarla cliste.
Broken Irish is better than clever English.

 

Italian

Un vocabolario può contenere solo una piccola parte del patrimonio di una lingua.
A dictionary can embrace only a small part of the vast tapestry of a language.
– Giacomo Leopardi

Lingua toscana in bocca romana.
Tuscan language in a Roman mouth.
– a popular saying concerning the origins of the Italian language, meaning that its grammar sprang from the dialect spoken in Tuscany, while Roman people have the best pronunciation.

 

Korean

말이 씨가 된다.
A word becomes a seed = what you say is what you get

Malay

Bahasa jiwa bangsa.
Language is the soul of a race.

 

Manx

Çheer gyn çhengey, çheer gyn ennym.
A country without language is a country without an name/identity.

Gyn çhengey, gyn çheer
No language, no country

Tra haink ny skibbyltee boghtey stiagh hie yn Ghaelg magh.
When the tourists came in, the Manx language went out.

Ta çhengey ny host ny share na olk y ghra.
A silent tongue is preferable to speaking evil.

Ta dooiney creeney smooinaght ooilley ny te gra, agh t’an ommidan gra ooilley ny te smooinaght.
A wise man thinks all he says, but a fool says all he thinks.

Yn beeal tutler poagey scrieu yn jouyl.
A gossip’s mouth is the devil’s postbag.

More Manx proverbs

 

Māori

Toku reo toku ohōho.
My Language, my awakening.

 

Norwegian

Det er viktig hvilke ord du bruker, men viktigere hvilket språk du bruker.
Du kan bytte ut ordene og si nesten det samme, men bytter du ut språket, hjelper det ikke om ordene er like.

Your choice of words is important, but more important is your choice of language.
You can replace the words, saying roughly the same, but if you replace the language, it won’t help you that the words are the same.

– Joachim Aremk

 

Polish

Mówienie jest srebrem, a milczenie złotem.
Talking is silver, while staying silent is golden.

Chodzi mi o to, aby język giętki
Powiedział wszystko, co pomyśli głowa;
A czasem był jak piorun jasny prędki,
A czasem smutny jak pieśń stepowa,
A czasem jako skarga Nimfy miętki,
A czasem piękny jak Aniołów mowa

I wish that a dexterous tongue
Could say everything that the head could think

– Juliusz Słowacki, from the poem Beniowski

 

Portuguese

Minha pátria é a língua portuguesa.
My homeland is the Portuguese language.
– Fernando Pessoa

 

Sanskrit

भाषा प्रशस्ता सुमनो लतेव
केषाम्न चेतांस्यावर्जयति।
(bhāṣā praśastā sumano lateva
keṣām na cetāṃsy āvarjayati)
Language, auspicious, charming, like a creeper, whose minds does it not win over?
– sūkta – traditional maxim

 

Scottish Gaelic

Am fear a chailleas a chanain caillidh e a shaoghal.
He who loses his language loses his world.

Sluagh gun chanain, sluagh gun anam
A people without a language is a people without a soul

Chan fhiach cuirm gun a còmhradh.
A feast is no use without good talk.

Tagalog

Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika ay higit pa sa hayop at malansang isda.
Those who know not how to love their own language are worse than an animal and a smelly fish.
Jose Rizal, Filipino national hero

 

Turkish

Söz gümüşse sukut altındır.
If talking is silver, silence is golden.

Tatlı dil yılanı deliğinden çıkarır.
Sweet language brings even a snake from its hole.

Dilin kemiği yoktur ama kemikleri büker.
The tongue has no bone but it twists the bones. meaning: words may have disastrous effects.

Bir dil bir insan, iki dil iki insan.
One who speaks only one language is one person, but one who speaks two languages is two people.

 

Ukrainian

Скільки мов ти знаєш – стільки разів ти людина
(Skilʼky mov ty znaješ – stilʼky raziv ty ljudyna)
How many languages you know – that many times you are a person.
– Павло Тичина (Pavlo Tychyna)

 

Welsh

Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon.
A nation without a language is a nation without a heart.

 

Yiddish

אַ שפּראַך איז אַ דיאַלעקט מיט אַן אַרמיי און פֿלאָט
(A shprakh iz a dyalekt mit an armey un flot)
A language is a dialect with an army and navy.
– Max Weinreich

I want to thank to http://www.omniglot.com/ for this precious compilation. There are many useful and interesting information on their web site. Enjoy and wait for the second part published by omniglot.com! 🙂

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Hazal Didem YENER on February 18, 2013 at 18:37

    Interesting. Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply

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