Italian proverbs, part 6

Hi my lovely dears,
This post is a new entry in the series on Italian proverbs. This time, instead of only one proverb per letter I will talk, for most letters, about two proverbs per letter. Ready? Let’s start!

Letter A:

Aiutati che Dio ti aiuta.
It literally means, “Help yourself so God helps you”, and has its English equivalent in “Heaven helps those who help themselves”. It means that if you are in trouble you should be the first one to work to get out of the bad situation, and you shouldn’t passively wait and hope in a sort of providence to solve everything.

Ambasciator non porta pena.
It literally means, “Ambassador brings no pain”. It means that somebody carrying news shouldn’t take responsibility or being blamed if the news is not good. It’s the Italian equivalent of, “Don’t shoot the messenger”. You say this to somebody to whom you have to tell bad news and who you expect could get angry or upset, to prevent possible bad reactions towards you.

Letter C:

Chi di spada ferisce, di spada perisce.
The literal translation is, “He who harms with the sword, will die by sword”; in English, it’s often rendered as “He who wields the sword will die by the sword”. It means that those inflict harm on others can expect to be harmed in turn.

Chi di speranza campa, disperato muore.
Literally translated is, “He who lives of hope, will die desperate”. It means that you shouldn’t just sit and wait and hope that destiny or the universe provides for you what you want or need, because you won’t obtain anything. In other words, if you badly want something, just work for it and don’t wait that it comes at you spontaneously.

Letter D:

Dove c’è gusto, non c’è perdenza.
Literally it means, “Where there’s liking, there’s no loosing”. It means that if you really like something and it makes you happy, it doesn’t matter what others think of it. Put differently, you shouldn’t care if others like or not something that you really like.

Dio, se chiude una porta, apre un portone.
The literal translation is, “God, if he closes a door, opens a doorway”. It means that if you met an obstacle that prevented you from obtaining something, or if a door shut for you, that happened probably because something even better is reserved for you. In English, you’d say, “Where one door closes, another one opens.”

Letter I:

Il troppo storpia.
It literally is, “Too much cripples”. It means that excesses are never good, so also a good thing becomes harmful if it is too much. In other words, there can be too much of a good thing, or – for the classically-minded – “Nothing in excess”.

Impara l’arte e mettila da parte.
Literally translated is, “Learn the art and put it aside”. It means that it is always good to learn or improve some art or craft or skill because, even if you don’t use it immediately, it can always come in handy in the future.

Letter L:

L’erba cattiva non muore mai.
It literally means, “The bad grass never dies”. It means that somebody or something bad often seems difficult to get rid of.

L’erba del vicino è sempre più verde.
Literally translated it is, “The neighbour’s grass is always greener”. In English you’d comment how the grass is always greener elsewhere. It means that other people’s lives or situations always seem better or easier that yours, even when that’s not actually the case, because you only see it from the outside and don’t know all the details.

Letter N:

Non dire quattro se non l’hai nel sacco.
It literally is, “Don’t say four if you don’t have it in your sack”. It means that you shouldn’t celebrate a victory, or an accomplishment, or think to have obtained something before actually gaining it, even if it looks very possible, because you could always be disappointed.

Non è tutt’oro quello che riluce.
Its literal translation is, “It’s not gold all that shines”, i.e. “Not all that glitters is gold”. It means that also what seems beautiful and perfect and easy from the outside can actually disappoint once obtained or once looked at more closely, because it reveals to be less nice or more difficult than what expected.

Letter R: Rendere pan per focaccia.
Literally means, “To give back bread for cake”. It means that you take your revenge towards somebody that harmed you and hurt that person in the same way you were hurt. In other words, you retaliate and pay back with the same coin.

Letter T: Tutto è bene ciò che finisce bene.
It has its literal English equivalent in, “All’s well that ends well”. It means that if you manage to solve a problem or to rescue a situation in a satisfactory and successful way, you can forget all the problems and troubles you went through.

Letter U: Una noce da sola, non suona nel sacco.
It literally is, “One nut alone doesn’t make any sound in the sack”. It means that if you take action or speak up alone and nobody follows you, you’ll hardly make any difference or accomplish any result.

What do you think of these proverbs? I would like to hear your comments, or your comments on the proverbs I talks about in the previous posts. Do you have any favourite proverb? I would like to hear from you also in that case. I hope to see you soon on this blog. Ciao ciao!

PS: if you are interested in the previous posts in this series, here you can find the first one, the second one, the third one, the fourth one, and the fifth one.

Leave a Reply