Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hindi Proverbs and their English Equivalents

This effort is a result of a discussion, my family had on the breakfast table. My daughter kept swinging her leg, which kept banging into mine and then I turned around and said .. "Sau sonaar ki, ek lohaar ki."

This started off a discussion of what it meant and whether there was an equivalent of this, in English. Which led me into a hunt for more English equivalents of Hindi Proverbs. I've taken the liberty of spelling out all Hindi words in English. I hope you get it right the first time .. or at least, the second!

Disclaimer: I'm no expert on either Hindi or English, so if you notice errors, please go right ahead and point them out!

I searched the Internet to find lists of Hindi proverbs and English proverbs and then sat down and tried to correlate them. The following list is what I came up with. As I said, I'm no expert - but I'm happy with the effort. Hope you enjoy reading this.
  • Khatte angoor - Sour grapes (also, literally)
  • Bandar kya jaane adrak ka swad - Casting pearls before swine 
  • Dal mein kaala - More to it than meets the eye 
  • Naach na jaane, aagan tedha – A poor worker blames his tools
  • Jale par namak chidakna - Rubbing salt on one’s wound (almost, literal)  
  • Door ke dhol suhavane lagte hain – The grass seems greener on the other side  
  • Aage kuan peeche khaee – Between the devil and the deep sea  
  • Garajne wale badal baraste nahin hain – Barking dogs seldom bite  
  • Jitnee lambi chadar ho utna hee pair failana chahiye – Cut your dress according to your cloth  
  • Ab pachatae kya jab chidiya chug gayi khet – No use crying over spilt milk  
  • Anth bhala to sab bhala – All’s well that ends well (almost, literal)  
  • Taali ek haath se nahin bajti – It takes two to quarrel  
  • Jahan chaah wahaan raha – Where there’s a will, there’s a way (almost, literal)  
  • Doodh ka jala chaas bhi phook-phook kar peeta hai – Once bitten twice shy  
  • Jaisa desh, vaisa bhes – In Rome do as the Romans do  
  • Ek myaan mein do talawaren nahi samaati – No man can serve two masters  
  • Khotta chana baje ghana - Empty vessels make more noise 
By the way, I never did find the equivalent of "Sau sonaar ki, ek lohaar ki"!!

Feedback? ...Bouquets? Brickbats? Well, bring 'em on :)

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good one though

harini calamur said...

nice :)
i guess that sau sonar ki, ek lohar ki - the nearest is "There's more than one way to skin a cat".
the other, more recent, one could be 'different strokes for different folks :)

Sanjeev Nair said...

Not sure but this one might come closer to it......

"Kill one to warn a hundred."

BK Chowla, said...

Well, I knew of most of them but it is the first time I have a translated version.Great .

Anonymous said...

Great Post, nicely composed, "Khotta chana baje ghana", it is actually 'Thotha' not 'Khotta', Thotha means kind of hollow, and that is the reason the Chanaa makes some sound.

Max said...

Nice post... But what does "Sau sonaar ki, ek lohaar ki" mean?

Sandeep said...

Thanks, guys! Your feedback was most encouraging.

Now, you've got me thinking on writing a few more blogs of this type. (Did I hear a few groans?)

chhavi said...

please do write some more posts like this. I learned some new ones here!

Praful Vora said...

This is an excellent job. Thank for blogging this :)

I am not satisfied with the two comments on your query for the english equivalent for Sau Sonar ...

VAN said...

Nice work! Would help non-Hindi speaking types like me if you could include a literal translation into English and then the English equivalent. Maybe then some of your readers can help out with even more English equivalents!

Anonymous said...

here is one more i couldn't find it's English equivalent - "bhains ke aage been bajaye bhains khadi paguraye".

Garima Jain said...

I appreciate your effort and other folks' who are addin to it..
I would like to add one more to "Doodh ka jala chaas bhi phook-phook kar peeta hai – Once bitten twice shy" and that is "A burnt child dreads the fire".

Anonymous said...

ye insan baingan jaisa he...can anyone pls tell me what this means...i kno baingan means brinjal:)

Anonymous said...

सौ सोनार की, एक लोहार की (Hindi) Sau sunar ki, ek lauhar ki
(A single blow of a blacksmith is equal to a hundred blows of a goldsmith)
Generally used to demonstrate the power of a strong person to a weak one.
The power in one blow of hammer used by blacksmith equals hundred blows of hammer used by goldsmith

Anonymous said...

very nice n helpful..........gr8 collection........pleazzzzzzz include some more.........

Anonymous said...

I think the point here is a bit more like: "sometimes all the money in the world can't buy the genuine strength that comes from hard work," but I'll keep looking for a more concise English equivalent.

maya mystic said...

can someone tell equivalent for 'oot ke muh me jira'?

Amaan said...

Jis vraksha per sabse jyada ful lgte he, sabse jyada pathar bhi usi ped per padte he.

GDBhradwaj said...

wat is the equivalent of "Meri billi mujse meow"?

Ritesh Miskin said...

i think sau sunar ki ek luhar ki can be said as A single blow of a blacksmith is equal to a hundred blows of a goldsmith.

Anonymous said...

A single blow of a blacksmith is equal to a hundred blows of a goldsmith.

Ritesh Miskin said...

A single blow of a blacksmith is equal to a hundred blows of a goldsmith.

Anonymous said...

"cumin seed in the mouth of camel"

Nidhi Jain said...

what is for chuulu bhar pani me dub marna?

DC said...

"dukhti rag par haath rakhna" equivalent??

Varteeka Chandel said...

Hi Sandeep,
I have three proverbs-
1*Apne Munh Mian Mithu Banna
Eng-Self praise is no recommendation
2*Door ke dhol suhavane lagte hain
Eng-The drums sound better at a distance
3*garajne wale badal baraste nahin hain 
Eng-Those who make the most threats seldom do anything......
If I am wrong here in these proverbs so plz let me know...
Well I have one more proverb but I don't have that idea what should be in English.....
---Jitnee Lambi Chadar ho Utna hee pair failana Chahiye----


Thanks...

priya said...

An empty purse frightens away friends :)

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed reading it..I would love to know the equivalent of "Aa bail muzhe maar"...

Anonymous said...

"Sau sonaar ki, ek lohaar ki"
"One good friend is better than a thousand poor ones."

Unknown said...

' oog ke muh me jira'____ ' a drop in the ocean'

AmitKS said...

Dukhti rag par haath rakhna equivalent couldn't find but 'Achilles heel' is equivalent of dukhti rag

Anonymous said...

Akal badi ya bhains?

Anonymous said...

Oonth k muh m jeera