Faroese proverbs use old standards that stem from Scandinavian settlers.
Proverbs of the Faroe Islands ("The Sheep Islands") reflect the geography, history, and people on the archipelago. About 47.000 inhabitants of Scandinavian descent enjoy "mild winters, cool summers; usually overcast; foggy, windy" in a terrain that is "rugged, rocky", with "cliffs along most of the coast", and they are largely descended from Viking settlers who arrived in the 800s AD. Until the 1800s the Faroese used open boats that were able to fish close to the Faroese coasts. And today still the people depend on fishing. The islands have been under Denmark for many centuries. Much self-government, Home Rule, was had in 1948. The Faroese have a standard of living not far below Danes and Norwegians, and enjoy far more freedom to go fishing, etc; a rural, fairly natural environment, a strong cultural integrity and lots of birds winging, flying, sailing, singing, cawing and screaming in the countryside.
In 2007 the National Geographic Traveler ranked the Faroe Islands as their top destination among 111 island communities in the world: "Authentic, unspoiled, and likely to remain so." [◦National Geographic Traveler Article from 2007]
A boatless man is tied up.
After a landslide one more can be expected.
An eager dog often gets a torn skin.
As we are egged on, we rage.
Better be a good man's slave than badly married.
Better leave something than eating overly much.
Better to own it than asking your brother for it.
Big rivers are made out of many small brooks.
Blind is the bookless man.
Burnt child fears the fire.
Done by oneself is well done.
Every day is not a baking-day.
Everything is better than owning nothing.
Haste often causes nasty things.
He that rows out often, gets fish at last.
He who waits gets a tailwind, and he who rows, a harbour.
Hear about others, but make it cosy for yourselves.
Heavy is an old man's fall.
High calling brings a high fall.
If a Dane first has come into the room, more Danes will probably follow.
It is a poor mouse that doesn't have more than one hole.
It is best to ask a man who manages on his own.
It is better to attract two birds to the nest than one.
It is good to wait for a man that is alive.
It mars to tie the dog to the butter stamp.
It's a poor bird that fouls its own nest.
It's bad to have to trust in others.
It's better to be prepared than swift afterwards.
It's difficult to build a boat plank against the wave.
It's the owner of the cow who walks close to her tail.
Keeping silence won't get you to court (i.e. to the Thing).
Wool is the gold of the Faroes Wool is the gold of the Faroe Islands.
Loans are to come home (back) laughingly.
Mad dogs get their skin torn.
Many can carry things on both shoulders.
No one should forget old friends and old goats.
Nobody is to eat the morsel of someone else.
None reaches further than his arms reach.
Nothing is as bad that it isn't good for something.
Nothing ventured, nothing won.
Old ones are good at councelling.*
Old ravens are not easy to fool.
See the guest out if you want to see him again.
Small birds lay small eggs.
Small boats sail, as well as ships.
Small fish are better than empty dishes.
Swimming is easy if someone holds your head above water.
The blind one asked the naked guy to lead him on.
The child does not cry as long as it has its way.
The coward falls.
The crow thinks best of her own chickens.*
The dead man's heirs are many, but not his brothers.
The dog is as his master. (Like master, like dog.)
The food we grow ourselves, is fit. *
The knifeless man is a lifeless man.
The one who derides others, gets derided too.
The thief believes that everybody steals.
There are misfortunes in almost every family (slekt).*
There is always something the matter with a bad child.
There lies often falsehood beneath a pretty skin.
There should be good embers after a good fire.*
Things don't always go as planned.
Time runs like the river current.
We are born to be our own, and not fed to it.
When ale goes in, the wit goes out [Havamal, v. 12].
When the mouse is satisfied, the flour is bitter.
Who does not eat till he is full, won't lick himself satisfied.
Who fares suitably, (carefully), gets ahead.
Who is reared at home fares wrong away from home.*
Who rides first, controls the speed.
You can take the ox to the river, but begging it won't make it drink.
You've made your bed, so you can lie in it (Literally: As you make your bed, you lie in
Young, G. V. C. and Cynthia R. Clewer, comps. Føroysk-ensk orðabók = Faroese-English Dictionary. Peel, Isle of Man: Mansk-Svenska Publishing, 1985.
Harvesting the hay
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