What is your favourite non-English quotation?

I like me a good aphorism. What is your favourite quotation or saying, in any language other than English? What does it mean to you?

*ll y a des fleurs partout pour qui veut bien les voir" Henri Matisse (There are flowers everywhere for those who truly wish to see them)

“C’est pas que le puits est trop profond, cest que ta corde est trop corte” Proverb It’s not that the well is too deep, it’s that your rope is too short

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

But, you know, bitterly.

Its ether Que Será, Será or C’est la vie. Depends on how I’m feeling that day, sometimes its Ménage à trois ala mode?

A friend used to cock one eyebrow and intone a French phrase as quickly as possible (with a thick accent), then wiggle said eyebrow to look witty. And leave the room before anyone could tell what he’d said.

“C’n’est pas la chaleur c’est l’humidité.”


(“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”)

This one is by the Indian poet, Ghalib (Written maybe mid 1800s)

hamko ma’aloom hai jannat ki haqeeqat lekin,* *dil ke khush rakhne ko, ‘Ghalib’ yeh khayaal achcha hai

I know the truth about Heaven; and Yet, to keep the heart amused; its a good idea to have.

I don’t know about favorite, but one that comes to mind is the Polish:

Nadzieja matką głupich

Hope is the mother of fools/the stupid.

Carpe cerevisi: Seize the beer.

German saying (not sure what the words actually are in German) : “A healthy person has a thousand wishes; a sick person has only one.”

Wo man singt, da lass dich ruhig nieder
Böse Menschen haben keine Lieder

Where there’s singing, calmly settle down
Evil people don’t have songs.

I love that.

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos -Goya

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

Revenons à nos moutons

French. Loosely translates as “this thread has gone off topic”

(… I should have waited a couple of days before posting that … )

Chacun à son goût

To each his own(taste)

Supposedly a Cantonese expression (given here in English):

He has many knives but none of them is sharp.

Basically meaning “Jack of all trades, master of none”.

La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain.

  • In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.

Anatole France

I once worked with a lawyer who told me he didn’t understand this quote.



Ashita wa ashita no kaze ga fuku

(Literally, tomorrow’s wind blows tomorrow, though often translated into English as tomorrow is another day.)

You may recognize the word kaze (wind) if you know the literal meaning of the word kamikaze, divine wind.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

German: “Ein Mann ohne ein Armbanduhr ist ein gluecklicher Mann.”

Translation: “A man without a wristwatch is a happy man.”

“Como frijoles?”, or “how have you bean?”

More seriously, “honi soit qui mal y pense”, or “shame on him who thinks evil of it”.

Vidi, vici, veni