Saturday, September 25, 2010


Please be advised that medical proverbs are not based on scientific evidence but on generations of observation and experience. They give us advice for healthy living. The six proverbs cited below have certainly withstood the test of time, and will continue to be used by people of all walks of life for generations to come.
     1.      Prevention is better than cure.
     2.      A stitch in time saves nine.
     3.      Diseases come on horseback but go away on foot.
     4.      Desperate diseases must have desperate cures.
     5.      Bitter pills might have sweet effects.
     6.      An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
It seems that the last proverb is the most quoted medical proverb. It might have originated from “Eat an apple in going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”
Nowadays, as strange as it might seem, we find many humorous and often satirical variations of this proverb, in advertisements, cartoons, greeting cards,  and comic strips, such as “A pill a day keeps the stork away”, “An onion a day keeps everybody away”,
“A condom a day keeps AIDS away’.
At the time of President Nixon, a national columnist James Reston wrote that apparently
“A crisis a day keeps impeachment away.”
While some of these proverbs are quite funny they express concerns of our society.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Non-English speakers are often puzzled by the most unphonetic spellings and inconsistent pronunciation. Think of these sounds: o in hot, u in up, e in red, a in mad, i in bit. You can never be sure of English pronunciation. Words spelled the same way but pronounced differently, such as beard and heard, road and broad, low and how, blood and book, four and tour, break and speak, though and through, or think of comb, tomb and bomb.

To add to the confusion let’s look at some “misnomers”, that is words that designate a meaning different from what the word might indicate, as there is no grape in grapefruit, no butter in buttermilk, no apple in pineapple, and the fact that sweetmeat is neither sweet nor meat but candy, and that sweetbreads is meat.

Let’s not forget these two very common expressions as we park on driveways and drive on parkways.

As Richard Lederer points out: “ In what other language your feet can smell and your nose can run.”

Friday, September 3, 2010


“A proverb is one man’s wit and all men’s wisdom.”
                                                          Lord John Russell

The aim of the book is to inform and entertain. One of the pleasures of proverbs is seeing how other languages express the same idea. Almost every subject has some proverbs, be it love, women, health, animals, time, etc. Proverbs, sayings, clichés and idiomatic expressions presented in this volume are an integral part of our daily conversations, and at times echo back to long ago conversations with our parents or grandparents. They often serve as the punch lines of jokes or catchphrases, as well as to open a conference. Idioms are the lifeblood of any evolving language. In fact there seems to be a great demand for these North American expressions which are being reported either in English or translated into many other languages.