What is your favourite non-English quotation?

One I encountered years ago in a Straight Dope column: Se Non è Vero, è Ben Trovato | Definition of Se Non è Vero, è Ben Trovato by Merriam-Webster. If it’s not true, it’s a good story.

Hah! I’ve pretty much my whole life refused to wear a wristwatch, partly because of the underlying principle of that saying. I had no idea such a saying existed. (Surprisingly, I am actually a punctual person — when I NEED to know the time, I’ll find it.)

Another Italian phrase that can have its uses: Galileo’s Eppur si muove - “And yet, it does move”.

I don’t know them in Kannada or Hindi, but I’ve got two:

“The emptiest pot makes the most sound”, and “It takes two hands to make a clapping sound”. The first meaning whatever’s the most attention getting might have the least substance or priority, and the second is more like it takes two to tango, or “don’t start none, won’t be none.” Very close to the koan about one hand clapping in imagery, so maybe that’s why I never forgot it. : )

One Yiddish phrase explains almost everything about the world:

“Ven der putz shteht, ligt der sechel in drerd.”

In English that’s: “When the prick stands, the brains get buried in the ground.”

These are some sayings of the Buddha:

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.’

I spent nearly eight years being furious at a nasty practical joke. Once I let go, I felt much better.

If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good.’

A similar thought I’ve found equally useful is “Don’t worry about things you don’t control.”

If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path.’

Do lyrics count?

This is from Duresori Story by Duresori. I can’t find the original Korean, but here’s the translation

*It can be hard, it can be painful. *
But we should walk on this path.
(alternate But this is the path we should walk on)


The soloists are Jo Ah Reum, Kim Seul Gi and Im Ha Nui. Testament to Ha Nui’s vocals, the second solo sung by her has never been included in any live version of Duresori Story since this performance in 2010.

I (badly) sing this to myself, sometimes not so quietly whenever I’m down or frustrated, especially at work and it’s been on repeat in my car since 2017.

The song is about creation of Duresori (literally Music Sound), the real life choir of the National School of Traditional Arts and was the closing song of the fictional pseudo-documentary movie about its creation, Duresori - The Voice of East. All of the singers are/were real students and members of Duresori, including their teacher.

I don’t know how much of the movie is true, but the song begins with about how the members of Duresori* were forced together in a summer makeup class. First being unhappy, then finding enjoyment, with a coda, sometimes not sung, about how they bring joy to the world with their singing.

*Duresori was founded in 2009 and is much larger, 30+ students. Ah Reum and Seul Gi weren’t in the original Duresori, but Ha Nui and some of the others were. Duresori with new students is still active and occasionally former students, notably Ha Nui appear in live performances.

I had the full lyrics professionally translated and will send it to you if you PM me if that’s allowed.

Edit: I forgot to include the two other main members of Duresori. Choi Eun Yeong, the choir leader and Choi Eun Hye, the pianist.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

This was reputed to be from Einstein (although I don’t believe it): Eigener Dreck stinkt nicht. (Your own shit doesn’t smell.)

From Yiddish: Mir lebt und mir lebt und mir stirbt a narr. (We live and we live and we die a fool.)

Sounds like a porn flick.

I’ll go with

Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?

But where are the snows of yesteryear?

- which is something I’ll say from time to time, but I just had to look up where it comes from: Ballade des dames du temps jadis.


“Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!”

I won’t translate.

I love the etching, too.

A Russian proverb: You can’t put a ball and chain on a world going mad.

Won’t you think of the German speaking dopers? I almost died laughing! :scream:

kaniktshaq moritlkatsio atsuniartoq. – Cecil Adams

(Supposed to translate as, “Look at all this fucking snow!” Actual translation: “Observe the snow. It fornicates!”)

On the analogy of carpe diem, which is what I presume you are going for, you want carpe cerevisiam. Cerevisi isn’t a possible form.

But if you’re thinking like a Roman, you might go for carpite hordeum, “(you [pl.]) seize the barley,” where you and your pals are planning a raid on some unsuspecting Gaulish barley farmers. Then you can make all the beer you like, at your leisure. Also, easier to transport.

Edit: on my screen, “cerev” is highlighted in blue for unknown reasons. Stupid text editor.

Wouldn’t “Como tienes frijoles?” (como = how, tienes = you have, Frijoles = beans) be better?

Un bon mot ne prouve rien. - Voltaire
A witty saying proves nothing.

I have a friend in an email group whose posts are always very educated, well-thought-out, and entertaining. His sig line is:

“Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur”

which Google translates as: “Whatever is said in Latin sounds profound”

I have a love hate relationship with 仕方がない shigata ga nai, it can’t be helped. It’s useful to remember that somethings are beyond us and to let go. Unfortunately some people use it as weasel words implying something is impossible instead of something they just don’t want to do or face.