“Not My Circus. Not My Monkeys.” And Other Proverbs From Around The World

“Not My Circus. Not My Monkeys.” And Other Proverbs From Around The World

“A bird in the hand was worth two in the bush, he told her, to which she retorted that a proverb was the last refuge of the mentally destitute.” W. Somerset Maugham

Proverbs are short statements of wisdom or advice that are transmitted from generation to generation. Miguel de Cervantes would call it “a short sentence based on long experience”. I just learned that the study of proverbs is called paremiology. They make up words for anything. It is interesting how easily we relate to them no matter what country they are from. Here are some of my favorites.

Give even an onion graciously. Afghan

The one who asks
 questions doesn’t lose his way.

Don’t put gold buttons on a torn coat. Albanian

The good-looking boy may be just good in the face. American Apache

The fruit of silence is tranquility. Arabian

When elephants fight, ants get killed. Cambodian

Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet. Chinese

Don’t teach your mother how to make children. Colombian

You do not  teach the paths of the forest to an old gorilla. Congolese

Listen to what they say of others and you will know what they say of you. Cuban

One sprinkles the most sugar where the tart is burnt. Dutch

Use soft words and hard arguments, English 

The best brewer sometimes makes bad beer. German

The liar and the thief rejoice in their first year only.  Greek

A leaky house can fool the sun, but it can’t fool the rain. Haitian

There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only person wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.” Indian Hindu 

Mothers hold their children’s hands for just a little while… 
And their hearts forever. Irish

Since the house is on fire, let us warm ourselves. Italian 

The reverse side also has a reverse side. Japanese

I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders. Jewish 

If you kick a stone in anger, you will hurt your own foot. Korean

To bend a bamboo, start when it is a shoot. Malaysian 

He who thinks he is leading and has no one following him, is only taking a walk. Malawian

it is not enough to know how to ride, you must also know how to fall. Mexican

Instruction in youth is like engraving in stone. Moroccan

Never marry a woman who has bigger feet than you. Mozambique

Not my circus. Not my monkeys. Polish 

He need not search his pockets for words. Russian

You can out distance that which is running after you but not what is running inside you.   Rwandan 

A greedy father has thieves for children. Serbian

Never trust your friend with a secret unless he is mute or a dog. Sicilian 

More grows in the garden than the gardener has sown. Spanish

Those who wish to sing, always find a song. Swedish 

The highest art is the art of living an ordinary life in an extraordinary manner. Tibetan

Kind words take the snake out of his hole. Turkish

Heaven creates the elephant, heaven will make grass.  Viet Nam

Who throws a stone in the market will hit a relative. Yoruban 

Any more?

Fly safe,




13 thoughts on ““Not My Circus. Not My Monkeys.” And Other Proverbs From Around The World

  1. Hi, Jane. Have you been to Amsterdam? Thinking about stopping there on our way to Prague with students end of June. Any thoughts? Hope things are good. Harry

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Hi Jayne, He who is patient is wise – Italian. If wishes were horses, all beggars would ride – Indian. A new broom sweeps clean – Italian. Age is the foundation of wisdom – Pope Francis. And many, many more. Harv


    Here are a few more of my favs:

    “Travel alone if you wish to go fast. Travel together if you wish to go far.” African

    “Coyote is always out there. Coyote is always hungry…” Native American

    “The two most important days in your life. The day you are born, and the day you figure out why.” Mark Twain

    “Intellectuals solve problems. Geniuses prevent them.” Dean Kamen

    “There’s your version of the story. There’s my version of the story. There’s the real story.
    And they are ALL a part of the truth” Robert Evans

    “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living!” ‘Mother’ Mary Harris Jones

    “Don’t send me anymore of those Goddamn West Point graduates! Get me some men who’ve been out in the world; who know how to improvise when the shit hits the the fan!” Patten

    “If I’d listened to my brother Roy, I’d have never made Snow White or built Disneyland…” Uncle Walt

  4. Hola! Just like the Old Gorilas one, colombians usually say: Dont teach your mother how to make children.

    D.I. Luis Lamprea Cel 310 2405415 Bogotá/Colombia

    El 31/10/2014, a las 10:56, “Travel Well, Fly Safe” escribió:

    > >

Comments are closed.