Thursday, September 18, 2014

Crawling buzzard-monkeys

Crawling buzzard-monkeys

Often, idioms act as advice or sage observation & it should be no surprise that multiple cultures might have the same things to say to future generations. This week’s post takes a look at one English idiom as stated in five other languages. The English idiom of the day is You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

Below are three lists:
-each idiom loosely translated into English
-the languages from which each idiom hails, &
-each idiom in its original tongue

However, I’ve changed up the order in each list. Your task is to match each translated idiom with its original language & original wording:

A.    You can’t turn a buzzard into a sparrowhawk.
B.    A monkey in silk is still a monkey.
C.   To celebrate a wedding with dried figs.
D.   Even if the monkey wears a golden ring it remains ugly.
E.    If you’re born to crawl you can’t fly.

1.    Dutch
2.    Italian
3.    Spanish
4.    French
5.    Russian

I.               fare le nozze con I fichi secchi
II.              rozhdennyj polzat letat ne mozhet
III.            aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda
IV.            al draagt een aap een gouden ring, het is en blijft een
V.             on ne peut faire d’une buse un épervier

Before checking the first comment in the comment section, make a list of your corresponding letter, Arabic number & Roman numeral. Then, in the comments section let us know how well you did & what you have to say about sow’s ears, or silk-wearing monkeys, or maybe even dried figs.

My thanks go out to this week’s sources:, Adam Jacot de Boinod’s Toujours Tingo, & Learning English with Idioms


  1. And the answers are...
    A – 4 - V
    B – 3 - III
    C – 2 - I
    D – 1 - IV
    E – 5 - II

  2. I had them all! The fact I've lived in several European countries helped. Then I got to the Russian by process of elimination. Fun!

  3. Same as Anne for the same reasons. =) Fun exercise.

  4. Ahoy Anne & Vickie,
    Thanks for coming by. Maybe if I'd posted the translations backward it would've been more challenging -- or as anagrams! Thanks for popping by.