Sunday, February 24, 2013

Animals in Proverbs (part 1)

(posted; Etymology page)
I was wondering if the Japanese proverb with animal would be comprehensible for the other languages speakers when I teach students.

* "killing two birds with one stone"   「一石二鳥」
This one appears often in the school textbook as we have the exact literal translation version in Japanese. Through checking, I learned that this proverb is from England in 17th century.

*Crane lives a thousand year and turtle lives a hundred years*
In ancient China, this is believed to be true and also both are taken as an auspicious animal in Japan.

There are 3 proverbs, which indicates useless attempt. 

   (1)*Casting pearls before swine* 「豚に真珠」 
    I was surprised to know that it is from the Bible. We have same version.

   (2)*Koban to cat*    「猫に小判」
   koban was an oval gold coin used during the Edo period. Obviously, cat cannot use    them, haha.

   (3)*Buddhist Chant to horse's ears*   「馬の耳に念仏」
    An advice you gave someone was like water off a duck's back to him.

*Even a pig could climb up a tree when cheered up*
It means "A pig, which is naturally not supposed to climb up a tree, could do it when extremely cheered up."  And it can be taken as an irony; someone, who is the last to be expected to do something, might do it when you cheers him up so much. My late mother used to be very good at this for me when letting me help her house chores p;)

I found this page of English version. Wow so surprised to know there are many of them. There are some I know but I think I'll check them when finding time.  Are there any your favorite ones in yours?   Part 2 will be the last of this, hehe. 


  1. some of these i'm not familiar with, but i think the pig one is really cute. and even sweeter since your mom used it to encourage you. :)

  2. I enjoyed learning the ones here I did not know before, my dear friend. Koban to a cat is one I especiaaly enjoyed. I love words and their usage, so you have given me a great treat today!

  3. Some of these I've heard before, funny that they exist in other languages meaning the same thing. I like the one about the pig in a tree. xo

  4. Gostei de ver! beijos,ótima semana!chica

  5. They are all cute but like the pig one.
    We sure do have some funny sayings and today I learned a few I didn't know!
    Love & Hugs

  6. I have often wondered how these sayings ever came about. My father used to quote the one about not being able to make a silk purse from a sow's ear. When I was little I thought it was funny because I wondered why a lady would want a purse that looked like a pigs ear.
    I never realized that so many of these old sayings spanned different cultures. Thank you for teaching me something new. Have a wonderful week my dear little sis. Much love from your bs

  7. Hi dear Miyako. I loved the one about the pig climbing the tree! I've heard of "pearls before swine"and "killing two birds with one stone ", but not the other ones you mentioned. Another one involving animals is "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink!!!" Hope you've had, or are having, a good weekend. Hugs from Diane x

  8. Miyako san, this is such a fun post!! I didn't know buta ni shinju was from bible! The image of neko ni koban is very cute! I think my favorite is pig climbing tree when cheered :-) I look forward to part two!

  9. Dearest Miyako sama
    Killing two birds one stone Watashiwa hagimete desu.
    crane lives thousand year and turle live a hundred years, an auspicious was animal in Japan Deshita ne.
    Koban cat ohichikunai mononi Butamo odateriyakini.
    You having with of English versin .
    Australia wa yoku yonde orarimasu.
    Anata wa yahari gatukono senseidesu Miyako san!
    Have a good time with Otosan to okurashi kudasai mase.

  10. Hello Miyako! I really love these proverbs and it's great to learn the Japanese versions. I'll have to start using them!

  11. very interesting. i love proverbs.

  12. Dearest Miyako,
    Some are really international but others depend on the region and the culture.
    Hugs to you,

  13. how interesting! There are some proverbs I haven't heard of here. So interesting how one language is translated to another.
    Have a wonderful week. I am linking up to you through Our World Tuesday.

  14. Helo Miyako, I loved reading these proverbs and meanings. Thank you for translating. I have heard a few but most are new to me. Have a happy day and week ahead. HUGS, Eileen

  15. pearls before swine...oh,that brought back a memory form years ago!! my beloved aunt and grandmother were visiting us..i was around 18 or so....we were all going out aunt started out the door and my mother jokingly said "age before beauty"..and my aunt very quickly responded"pearls before swine"!!! they were very close and teased each other a lot!! i can hear their laughter now!!!