“Great Minds Think Alike.” That sounds pretty awesome and compliments both of you. I don’t know how this popular saying is translated in other languages, but in German it’s more like “Two Fools, One thought” for lack of a better translation. You get the idea… and it’s a guaranteed laugh every time I bring it up to Americans.
This is just one example of a 1:1 translation that doesn’t get the right message across and could even offend somebody. Worst of all, you get a puzzled look from the person you’re talking to or they just perceive it as crazy talk.
There are lots of popular proverbs like that and if you are somebody who likes using them in English conversations, you want to get it right. I’m sure different cultures describe the same proverbs very differently, so I’m not trying to explain them to you since all I can refer to is the German version. However, I’m going to share a few popular ones with you and when you read through them, you’ll probably match them to sayings in your native language very quickly.
“Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.”
“Don’t blow your own horn.”
“Misery loves company.”
“The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
“There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
“The early bird catches the worm.”
“You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.”
“Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
“Beggars can’t be choosers.”
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
“The grass is always greener on the other side of the hill.”
Did some or all of these sayings sound familiar to you? Please comment below, if you know of other proverbs that are commonly used, but are being paraphrased very differently in your language. For more English proverbs check out this site.
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