Tuesday, December 28, 2010

English Duelling Proverbs

We  all know that every action has an opposite reaction or that there are two sides of the same coin, similarly we can say that every proverb has an equal and opposite proverb.  Contradictory proverbs can be used positively or negatively. Here is a list of some duelling proverbs that have been reported in my book.
1.    1.Birds of a feather flock together    but    Opposites attract.
2.     2.The early bird catches the worm          but    It’s never too late.
3.      Nothing ventured, nothing gained        but    Better safe than sorry.
4.      You can’t teach an old dog new tricks  but    You are never too old to learn.
5.      Absence make the heart grow fonder    but    Out of sight out of mind.
6.      It’s the thought that counts                    but    Actions speak louder than words.
7.      Too many cooks spoil the broth             but    Two  heads are better than one.
8.      Best things in life are free        but    There is no such thing as a free lunch.
9.      The more the merrier                             but   Misery loves company.
10.  Wise men think alike                              but    Fools seldom differ.
11.  A penny saved is a penny earned           but    Penny wise, pound foolish.
12.  Don’t cross the bridge until you come to it   but    Forewarned is forearmed.
13.  Opportunity never knocks twice on the same door    but   If one door shuts another opens.
14.  Divide and rule         but         United we stand, divided we fall.
15.  Strike while the iron is hot     but       Haste makes waste.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Comparing English with Romance Languages

The richness of the English Language will allow you to make distinctions that you don’t find in other languages. The Italian language with its vocabulary of about 260,000 words, cannot, for instance, distinguish between house and home neither can French nor Spanish.

Here is a list of Italian words and their corresponding English meanings: casa=house, home, ombra=shade, shadow, ora=now ,hour, piano=slow, plan, musical instrument, ancora=again, yet, still, ricetta=prescription, recipe, lingua=tongue, language, pesca=peach, fishing, perché=why, because, costume=dress or suit, custom, ospite=host, hostess, guest, nipote=niece, nephew, grandchild, grandson, grand-daughter, sentire=to hear, to feel, fare=to do, to make.
On the other hand, Italians have hundreds of names for pasta and some of them don’t sound too appetizing to foreigners, such as: capellini” (little hair), “vermicelli” (little worms), “strozzapreti” (priest stranglers).

In Spanish, the word casa is used to indicate both house and home even though the proper word for home is hogar , the word lengua indicates tongue and language, the word sombra refers to shade and shadow, the word receta is used for prescription or recipe. French is not any different as they use maison for house and home, langue for tongue and language, and ombre for shade and shadow.

I should also mention that even English has some words that correspond to more than one word in French, Spanish and Italian. Here are some examples:
English                 French                      Spanish                             Italian
To know           savoir, connaître          saber, conocer                    sapere, conoscere
Right                droite, droit, raison     derecho, razon, correcto   destra, diritto, ragione, corretto

Some say that there are between 6,000 and 7,000 languages in the world, others say between 7,000 and 10,000 and that two languages will die each month in the 21st century. In addition, only a small number of the major languages will be left by the end of the 21st century.