Peculiar Proverbs: Weird Words of Wisdom from Around the World

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9780312387075: Peculiar Proverbs: Weird Words of Wisdom from Around the World

Peculiar Proverbs is a hilarious and enlightening collection of genuine proverbs from around the world that ignores the sayings we are all familiar with and focuses on the more obscure. Some are deft, witty, and colorful, others are just plain weird, but they are all fascinating.

The proverbs are grouped in topics ranging from work (or reasons not to), family life, love, food, age, religion, money, and many more. Humor and wisdom characterize these bizarre and quirky sayings, and they reveal much about their countries of origin, and plenty about human nature.

Peculiar Proverbs includes sayings you won’t find in any other collection, sometimes so surreal they defy you to decipher them, providing hours of entertainment. Remember: The man who tickles himself can laugh when he chooses.

*Dogs and rude people have no hands (Italy)

*God preserve us from pitchforks, for they make three holes (Switzerland)

*It is not necessary for priests to marry as long as peasants have wives (Germany)

*A mother-in-law, like the yucca tree, is useful underground (Cuba)

*Better the gurgling of a camel than the prayers of a fish (Egypt)

*Give a dog an appetizing name, and eat him (China)

*There are two good people: one of them is dead, and the other one was not born (Estonia)

*Mediocrity is climbing a molehill without sweating (Iceland)

*You cannot drink water, it is not vodka (Russia)

*A cow pat is wider when trodden on (Ireland)

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About the Author:

Stephen Arnott is the author of Now Wash Your Hands!, a cultural history of the toilet, Eating Your Auntie Is Wrong, a collection of the world’s strangest customs, as well as Sex: A User’s Guide and Man Walks into a Bar. Born in Jamaica, he lives in South London with his partner and daughter.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

  A NICE TURN OF PHRASEA mixed bag of deft, colourful and evocative sayings on a variety of subjects.Never bolt your door with a boiled carrot.IRISH
The quiet duck puts his foot on the unobservant worm.CHINESE
Only a pumpkin is a head without cares.ITALIAN
Better be the beak of a chicken than the rump of an ox.CHINESE
Poets and pigs are only appreciated after their death.ITALIAN
Worlds are mere bubbles of water, but deeds are drops of gold.TIBETAN
It is better to suffer the satiated mosquito to stay than to admit the hungry one.SERBIAN
One sprinkles the most sugar where the tart is burnt.DUTCH
You cannot prevent the birds of sadness from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from nesting in your hair.CHINESE
He sits full still that has riven trousers.SCOTTISH
Other people’s goats always have the biggest udders.LATIN
It’s a hard job to make old monkeys pull new faces.FLEMISH
Hope is the dream of waking.DANISH
Do not stab yourself because you have a golden knife.MARATHI (INDIA)
The man who spends the night in a marsh wakes a cousin to the frogs.TUNISIAN
To carry a light when the moon shines makes tigers laugh.MALAYAN
After being struck on the head by an axe, it is a positive pleasure to be beaten about the body with a wooden club.CHINESE
The shrimp that sleeps is carried away by the current.CHILEAN
It is easy to cut whangs off other folks’ leather.SCOTTISH
Don’t be after breaking your shin on a stool that isn’t there.IRISH
The beetle in its hole is a sultan.EGYPTIAN
A centipede doesn’t stop for a game leg.BURMESE
Mistakes ain’t haystacks or there’d be more fat ponies than there is.NORTH AMERICAN
With patience and saliva the ant swallows an elephant.COLOMBIAN
It is nobler to be taken by a big crocodile than to be nibbled to pieces by little fishes.MALAYAN
Fowl scratch up too much dirt, him run risk of finding him grandma’s skeleton.JAMAICAN
Many shrimps, many flavours; many men, many whims.MALAYAN
Alms once given are as phlegm which has been expectorated – not worth taking back.KUMAONI (INDIA)
A spur in the head is worth two in the heel.SCOTTISH
Nothing to bother you, eh? Then go and buy a goat.INDIAN
Sycophants scratch pimples for a livelihood.TELEGU (INDIA)
A lame cat is better than a swift horse when rats infest the palace.CHINESE
Dogs and rude people have no hands.ITALIAN
A naked man can be seen from afar, a rude one, close at hand.LATVIAN
He who does evil to a benefactor is like a dog which eats up the piece of leather on which he sleeps.INDIAN
Farming, letter writing, worship and the tightening of your horse’s girth; these things should be done by yourself, though you have a hundred thousand attendants.PUNJABI
It is a sick duck that is worried by the weasel.CHINESE
A man that pets a live catfish ain’t crowded with brains.NORTH AMERICAN
Death is a black camel that kneels at every man’s gate.TURKISH
The tongue is soft and constantly remains in; the teeth are hard and fall out.CHINESE
If you do what people tell you, you will be fishing hares in the sea and hunting fish in the woods.BULGARIAN
The dragon in shallow water becomes the butt of shrimps.CHINESE
Mind your pullets, my cocks are abroad!JERSEY
Our Lady of Pity and Mister Saint Peter gave bad cows short horns.BRETON
Although there exist many thousands of subjects for elegant conversation, there are persons who cannot meet a cripple without talking about feet.CHINESE
He that denies the cat skimmed milk must give the mouse cream.RUSSIAN
Who does not feed the dog, feeds the thief.ESTONIAN
One should not peer into the mouth of a presentation cow and look at its teeth.BURMESE
Do not examine the reindeer given by the rich man lest you find it to be without horns.FINNISH
Better a sausage in the hand, than a ham in the butchers.POLISH
A slice of ham is better than a fat pig in a dream.GERMAN
A bird in the soup is better than an eagle’s nest in the desert.CHINESEPECULIAR PROVERBS. Copyright © 2007 by Stephen Arnott. All rights reserved. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

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