Talk:Scottish Gaelic proverbs

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Language[edit]

It should be clear enough to an English speaker when a proverb is in Scots (a language similar to English) as opposed to Gaelic.--Collingwood (talk) 17:43, 18 September 2012 (UTC)

Literally[edit]

A'bhiast as mutha ag ithe na beiste as lugha: - 'biast' - beast, not fish

Massive deletions of proverbs[edit]

Why? They are sourced. Spannerjam (talk) 18:10, 28 September 2018 (UTC)

A[edit]

DO NOT add the proverbs to the main page unless you provide a source.Spannerjam (talk) 06:18, 3 October 2018 (UTC)

  • Am fear nach glèidh na h-airm san t-sìth, cha bhi iad aige 'n àm a' chogaidh.
He that keeps not his arms in time of peace will have none in time of war.
(ie In order to preserve peace, prepare for war. Cf Latin and French proverbs.)
  • Anail a’ Ghàidheil, air a’ mhullach.
The Gael's rest is on the summit.
  • An car a bhios san t-seana mhaide, 's duilich a thoirt às.
The warp in the old piece of wood is hard to remove.
  • An rud a nithear sa chùil, thig e dh'ionnsaigh an teine.
What's done in the corner will come to the hearth.
  • An uair as làine 'n cupan, 's ann as dorr' a ghiùlan.
When the cup is fullest it is most difficult to carry.
  • Aon bhò a bhristeas an garradh, 's a dhà dheug a leumas.
One cow breaks the fence, and twelve leap it.
  • Aon ghlainne, chan fheàirrde ’s cha mhiste. Dà ghlainne, ’s fheàirrde ’s cha mhiste. Trì glainneachan, ’s miste ’s chan fheàirrde.
One glass, not the better of it and not the worse of it. Two glasses, the better of it and not the worse of it. Three glasses, the worse of it and not the better of it.
(variant:)
Aon ghlainne, chan fheàirrde ’s cha mhiste mo chorp no m’ anam e. Dà ghlainne, ’s fheàirrde mo chorp e, ’s cha mhiste m’ anam e. Trì glainneachan, ’s miste m’ anam e, ’s chan fheàirrde mo chorp e.
One glass, not the better and not the worse my body or my soul of it. Two glasses, the better my body of it and not the worse my soul of it. Three glasses, the worse my soul of it and not the better my body of it.[1]

B[edit]

  • Bainne nan gobhar fo chobhar ’s e blàth, ’s e chuireadh an spionnadh sna daoine a bha.
'Tis the milk of the goat foaming and warm that gave the strength to the past generations of people.[2]
  • Bheir duine beath' air èiginn, ach cha toir e rath air èiginn.
A man may force a livelihood, but cannot force fortune.
  • Bidh gach fear a' tarraing uisge gu mhuileann fhèin.
Each draws water to his own mill.

C[edit]

  • Caidlidh duine air gach cneadh ach a chneadh fhèin.
A man can sleep on every hurt but his own.
  • Cha bhi suaimhneas aig eucoir, no seasamh aig droch-bheairt.
Wrong cannot rest, nor ill deed stand.
  • Cha bhòrd bòrd gun aran ach 's bòrd aran leis fhèin.
A table without bread is not a table but bread is a table on its own.[3]
  • Cha d'fhàg claidheamh Fhinn riamh fuigheall beuma.
Fingal's sword never had to cut twice.
(literally Fingal's sword never left remnant of a stroke.)
  • Chan e ciad sgeul an t-sagairt bu chòir a chreidsinn.
It is not the priest's first story that should be believed.
  • Chan e gogadh nan ceann a nì an t-iomradh.
It is not the nodding of heads that does the rowing.
  • Chan eil gach iuchair san tìr an crochadh ri aon chrios.
All the keys in the land do not hang from one girdle.
  • Chan eil tuil air nach tig traoghadh.
Every flood will have an ebb.
  • Chan ionann gealladh is coileanadh.
Promises are easy to make.
(literally Promising and accomplishing isn't the same.)
  • Chan ith a shàth ach an cù .
None but a dog eats his fill.[4]
  • Chan òr a h-uile rud buidhe, 's chan uighean a h-uile rud bàn.
All that's yellow is not gold, and all white things are not eggs.
  • Cha tig muir mhòr tron chaolas chumhang.
A great sea comes not through a narrow strait.
  • Cha tuig an t-òg aimbeart, 's cha tuig amadan aimhleas.
Youth comprehends not necessity, nor the fool his mischief.
  • Cho corrach ri ugh air droll.
As unsteady as an egg on a stick.
  • Chuir sin an clamhan gobhlach am measg nan cearc.
That put the cat among the pigeons.
(literally That put the red kite among the hens.)[5]
  • Cuir do làmh sa chliabh, 's thoir do rogha leabaig às.
Put your hand into the creel, and take your choice of flounders.
  • Cuiridh mi clach air do chàrn.
I will put a stone on your cairn.
(ie I will remember you / you won't be forgotten.)

D[edit]

  • Dail chuach am bainne ghobhar, suath ri d’ aghaidh, ’s chan eil mac rìgh air an domhan nach bi nad dhèidh.
With violets and goats’ milk anoint your face, and every king’s son in the world will be after you.[6]
  • Dèan maorach fhad 's a bhios an tràigh ann.
Get bait while the tide is out.
  • Dh'aithnichinn air do sheirc do thabhartas.
I would know your gift by your graciousness.

E[edit]

  • Èisd ri gaoth nam beann gus an traogh na h-uisgeachan.
Listen to the mountain wind, till the streams abate.
(Waverley: Listen to the wind upon the hill till the waters abate.)

F[edit]

  • Far an taine 'n abhainn, 's ann as mò a fuaim.
Where the stream is shallowest, greatest is its noise.
  • Fialachd don fhògarrach, 's cnàimhean briste don eucorach!
Hospitality to the exile, and broken bones to the oppressor!

G[edit]

  • Gabh eòlas Rubh' a' Bhàird air.
Take it like the Bard's Point.
  • Ge cruaidh sgarachdainn, cha robh dithis gun dealachadh.
Though separation be hard, two never met but had to part.
  • Ge fàgas clach don làr, is faisge na sin Choibhi.
Though near be the stone to the ground, closer is Coivi.
(Coivi may refer to an important druid or to the priest Coifi.[7])
  • Gheibh rìgh feachd, 's gheibh domhan daoine.
King will get armies, and the world men.

I[edit]

  • Innsidh na geòidh as t-fhoghar e.
All will be reveaed in due course.
(literally The geese will tell it in autumn.)[8]
  • Is ann a tha 'n càirdeas mar a chumar e.
Friendship is as it's kept.
  • Is binn gach eun na dhoire fhèin.
Sweet sings each bird in his own grove.
  • Is bior gach sràbh san oidhche.
Every straw is a thorn at night.
  • Is buaine bladh na saoghal.
Renown is more lasting than life.
  • Is cruaidh a leònar an leanabh nach innis a ghearan.
The child is sadly hurt that doesn't tell his illness.
  • Is duilich bùrn glan a thoirt à tobar salach.
It's difficult to draw pure water from a dirty well.
  • Is e 'n cadal fada nì 'n t-iomradh teth.
Long sleep makes hot rowing.
  • Is fad' an abhainn air nach fhaighear ceann.
It's a long river whose head can't be found.
  • Is fheàrr an t-olc a chluinntinn na fhaicinn.
Better to hear the evil than see it.
  • Is fheàrr Gàidhlig bhriste na Gàidhlig sa chiste.
It is better to have broken Gaelic than dead Gaelic.[9]
  • Is fheàrr deagh chainnt na h-asail na droch fhacal fàidh.
The good speech of an ass is better than the bad word of a prophet.
  • Is fheàrr fheuchainn na bhith san dùil.
It's better to try than to hope.
  • Is fheàrr na 'n t-òr sgeul innse air chòir.
Better than gold is a tale rightly told.
  • Is fhurasda caisteal gun sèisteadh a ghlèidheach.
It's easy to keep a castle that's not besieged.
  • Is i an dias as truime as ìsle chromas a ceann.
The heaviest ear of corn bends its head lowest.
  • Is i chuileag bhuidhe bhuachair as àirde srann.
The yellow dung-fly makes the loudest hum.
  • Is iomadh urchair tha dol san fhraoch.
Many a shot goes into the heather.
  • Is ioma dòigh a th' air cù a mharbhadh gun a thachdadh le ìm.
There are many ways of killing a dog without choking him with butter.
  • Is leigheas air gach tinneas creamh is ìm a’ Mhàigh; òl am fochair siud bainne ghobhar bàn.
To heal all disease, take garlic and May butter; drink along with that white goats’ milk.[10]
  • Is leòr luathas na h-earba gun na coin a chur rithe.
The roe is swift enough without setting the dogs on her.
  • Is lugha na frìde màthair a' chonnsachaidh.
The mother of dissension is smaller than a mite.'
  • Is math an sgàthan sùil caraide.
A friend's eye is a good looking-glass.
  • Is minig a tha an fhìrinn searbh ri h-innse.
Truth is often harsh to tell.
  • Is minig a bha claidheamh math an droch thruaill.
Good sword has often been in poor scabbard.
  • Is minig a thàinig comhairle ghlic à ceann amadain.
Often has wise counsel comes from a fool's head.
  • Is mios' an t-eagal na 'n cogadh.
Fear is worse than fighting.
  • Is mòr toirm cuilce gun dol troimhpe.
The noise of reeds is loud without going through them.
  • Is obair-là tòiseachadh, ach is obair beatha crìochnachadh.
Beginning is a day's work, but finishing is the work of a lifetime.
  • Is tric as daoir' a' chomain na 'n dubh-cheannach.
A favour often costs more than what's hard-bought.
  • Is trom snighe air taigh gun tughadh.
Raindrops come heavy on a house unthatched.
  • Is uaine feur na faiche as fàsaiche.
Green is the grass of the least trodden field.
  • Ithear cruach na breacagan.
A stack can be eaten in cakes.

M[edit]

  • Ma bheir thu Muile dhiom, cha toir thu muir is tìr dhiom.
You may take Mull from me, but you can't take sea and land from me.
(literally [Even] if you take Mull from me, you can't take sea and land from me.)
  • Ma tha Dia ann, 's chan eil fhios a bheil, fàg eadar sinn fhèin 's na biodagan!
If there be a God, and no one knows whether there be, leave it between ourselves and the dirks!
  • Mar a thèid an t-eun o dhuilleag gu duilleag, thèid am mèanan o dhuine gu duine.
As the bird goes from leaf to leaf, the yawn goes from man to man.
  • Mar lus an Dòmhnaich, gun mhath, gun dolaidh.
Like the herb plucked on Sunday, it does neither good nor ill.
  • Mas math leat do mholadh faigh bàs, mas math leat do chàineadh pòs.
If you want to be praised die, if you want to be criticised marry.
  • Mas olc am fitheach, chan fheàrr a chomann.
If bad be the raven, his company is no better.
  • Mhealladh e 'n t-ugh bhon chorra-ghlais, ged bhiodh a dà shùil a' coimhead air.
He would cheat the heron of her egg, though her two eyes were fixed on him.
  • Mòran sgalan, 's beagan olainn, mun dubhairt Muisean 's e lomairt na muice.
Great cry and little wool, as the Devil said when he sheared the sow.

N[edit]

  • Na abair do sheanfhacal gus an toir thu do long gu caladh.
Don't quote your proverb till you bring your ship to port.
  • Na gèill do ghis, cha ghèill gis dhut.
Don't give in to spells, they won't give in to you.
  • Na gèill is tu beò.
Do not surrender while you are alive.
  • Na innis do run do d' charaide gòrach, no do d' nàmhaid glic.
Tell not thy mind to thy foolish friend, nor to thy wise enemy.
  • Na tarraing mi gun adhbhar, 's na pill mi gun chliù.
Neither draw me without cause, nor return me without honour.
(A sword inscription.)
  • Nuair a thig air duine thig air uile.
It never rains but it pours.
(literally When it comes on one it comes on all.)[11]

R[edit]

  • Ruigidh an ro-ghiullachd air an ro-ghalar.
The best of nursing may overcome the worst disease.
  • Ruithidh an taigeis fhèin le bruthaich.
Even a haggis will run downhill.

S[edit]

  • 'S e am beul a labhras, ach an gnìomh a dhearbhas.
Actions speak louder than words.
(literally It is the mouth that speaks, but the deed that proves.)
  • Shaoil leis gum bu leis fhèin an cuan fo gheasaibh.
He thought the ocean his own under his spells.

T[edit]

  • Tha chomhachag ri bròn, thig tuiltean oirnn.
The owl is mourning, floods are coming.
  • Tha fios fithich agad.
You have a raven's knowledge.
  • Thig trì nithean gun iarraidh, an aois, an gaol, agus an t-siataig.
Three things come without being wanted, age, love, and rheumatism.[12]
  • Triùir a thig gun iarraidh – gaol, eud is eagal.
Three that come unbidden – love, jealousy and fear.[13]
  • Tuig thus’ an t-eathar agus tuigidh an t-eathar thu.
Understand the boat and the boat will understand you.[14]

References[edit]

  • Source: Gaelic Proverbs, by Alexander Nicolson. October 2003; Birlinn, Limited.