We talked about idioms, like “a red herring,” “pulling one’s leg,” “raining cats and dogs,” and “a piece of cake.”
And then we moved on to discuss proverbs or adages, such as:
“Barking dogs seldom bite.”
“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
“Beggars can’t be choosers.”
“Don’t cry over spilled milk.”
After they got the hang of using some of these quirky phrases, I would ask them to think about and share similar proverbs from their own language. Here are some Japanese proverbs. Are they as clear as mud to you?
“Even monkeys fall out of trees.” (Our Japanese son, Takashi, used this one frequently.)
“After the rain, earth hardens.”
“He takes dumplings over flowers.”
“Unless an idiot dies, he won’t be cured.”
“The stake that sticks out gets hammered down.”
Can you try to guess the meaning of these five Japanese proverbs?
I like the last one, because it seems to me to be the complete opposite of one of our English proverbs and points out a great difference in the Japanese and American way of thinking. For that one, maybe you can think of the opposing American proverb. We also have one that is similar in meaning. Which one would that be?
Give it a try! I'll post the meanings in a few days. (But not unless some of you play along!)