"Eulen nach Athen tragen" is a german proverb meaning that you do something useless, when you "take owls to Athens" how about other languages ? I wonder if this proverb is simply translated word by word or do other nations have different ways to say this ?
obviously is the translation of the original phrase (in ancient greek): "komizo glafk eis Athenas" for the greeks is a familiar phrase because we did it in school :) and according to wiki here's the story behind it: The owl, which roosted in the rafters of the old Parthenon (the one burnt by Xerxes I), was the symbol of the city of Athens, and was sacred to its patron goddess, Athena. It was featured on Athens’ silver coins, and as Athens both mined its own silver and minted its own coins, bringing owls (either the real birds, or the coins) to Athens would be pointless.
In UK English we 'take coals to Newcastle'. This is Newcastle-on-Tyne, which was once a huge mining area...so taking coal there would be stupid. We don't really use 'bringing owls to Athens'.
aha, that is interesting ! So we use an old greek proverb in german and it is different in english ! How about other countries and languages ?
We also have 'preaching to the converted' and 'flogging a dead horse'....though neither are *exactly* the same as coals to Newcastle.
we also have similar things like "get a frog a drink" etc., but I love that idea with the owls and most people use this !
They don't in the UK! :-)
Depending on your English, as noted you can flog a dead horse. Or you can beat a dead horse. Or regionally we also say that you can pound sand or push on water. But getting back to the question of proverbs that are transferred/translated into to other languages, I've really be unable to think of any. But I have learned a few new expressions in Portuguese that I find useful here: "making honey (or more literally making wax)" or "flying" - both ways to say looking busy but not doing anything "standing but not falling and lying down without sleeping" - way to say doing so-so "we are on the cassette, the playboys are on the DVD" - confessing that you're not the best one out there
In Russia they say: "Dont bring Samowars to Tula !"
Sell oil to the Arabs. Sell sand to the Arabs. (Both to be found in huge quantities in the Arab nations)
The Geman expression I could never understand (though i do understand its meaning)has always been "Kreuzweise im Mondschein" I could never for the life of me understand how this came ot mean what it means.
"Kreuzweise im Mondschein" is a quite modern version of the so-called "Götz-Zitat" , where in a play by Goethe Götz von Berlichingen is saying: You can tell your king, he can lick my @ss. - and now there seem to be different ways to lick like from up to down or from down to up, but also x-wise, thats the meaning of kreuzweise - and "im Mondschein" the x-wise-licking might even be more fun...
Ja ja, immer besser im Monschein LOL
Hi, we take wood into the woods in Slovakia "Nosit drevo do lesa" Regards J :-)
*Waves to Kate!* :-)
In my language is " to teach the father making children" (sorry if it is a bit rough-cut)or similar to Slovakian " take a sand to desert"
I've heard a few people here in the western USA talk of "Brining Coals to Newcastle" but have also heard a few having to do with Eskimos, such as "selling ice to the Eskimos" or air conditioning or refrigerators or what have you.