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Finnish Proverbs

A man is to be valued by his work, not his words.

A new insight allows for new views.

Closeness without conflict exists only in the cemetery.

Do it today. Tomorrow it might be forbidden.

For the sake of wild strawberries you will bow again and again to the earth.

Let the new day shows new ways.

Potatos blossom too.

The first night in the gallows is the worst.

The goat grazes where it is tied.

Unsown seeds won't grow.

Proverbs preserve much of the knowledge, customs and counsel of forebears. They beautify and strengthen the speech, and can add pungency to what is delivered. Proverbs may also assist those who wish to learn a language, and can reflect some of the deep roots of customs or attitudes; roots that may spring up in one proverb after another.

Some of the translations are modified.


Finnish Proverbs
A pessimist may not always be disappointed.
Ällös lainaa kulloinkaan suuntaan kumpaankaan.

Never have loans, in neither direction. So: Never give or take a credit.

Ei auta itku markkinoilla.

Weeping does not help at the marketplace.

Ei elämä irvistellen somene.

Life will not get more beautiful by making grimaces.

Ei elämästä selviä hengissä.

You won't survive life. (Sooner or later.)

Ei halu halaamalla lähde.

Desire won't fade with embraces.

Ei kaikki kultaa mikä kiiltää eikä kaikki hopeata mikä hohtaa.

All that glistens is not gold, nor silver all that shimmers.

Ei kannata mennä merta edemmäs kalaan.

One should not go farther than the sea to fish.

Ei todenpuhuja saa yösijaa.

He who speaks the truth won't get shelter for the night. (Be prepared for untoward results where truths are ill-heard.)

Elämä on epävarmaa, syö jälkiruoka ensin.

Life is uncertain, so eat your desert first.

Esteet katoavat etevän tieltä.

Barriers will disappear on the path of the skilled.

Halukas auttaja tulee käskemättä .

A willing helper comes without being asked.

Hyvä kello kauas kuullu, paha vielä kauemmas.

A good bell [reputation] is heard far, a bad one even farther.

Itku pitkästä ilosta, pieru kauan nauramasta.

Laughter from joy for long, a fart from laughing long.

Jos et löydä rauhaa itsestämme on turhaa etsiä sitä muualta.

If you cannot find peace within yourself, it is useless to look elsewhere.

Kuolema kuittaa univelat.

Death settles sleepdebts. (Death "makes up for" lack of sleep.)

Kyllä routa porsaan kotiin ajaa.

The frost will drive a pig back home.

Kyllä routa porsaan kotiin ajaa.

The frost drives the pig home.

Kyllä siinä melua syntyy, kun kaksi hullua yhteen tulee.

There will surely be some noise when two madmen come together.

Leikki on lapsen työtä.

Play is work for a child.

Maltti on valttia.

Patience is a trump.

Mikäs pahan tappais, Jumala ei huoli ja piru ei pidä kiirettä.

What would kill the bad; God doesn't want them and the devil is not in a hurry. (Reply to a query on how one is faring.

Moni kakku päältä kaunis, vaan on silkkoa sisältä. or "Moni kakku päältä kaunis, silkkaa silkkoa sisältä.

Many cakes are beautiful on the surface, but don't have nice fillings.

Myöhäistä itkeä kun on kakat housuissa.

It's no use crying when the crap is already in your pants.

Neuvottu mies on puoliksi autettu.

A man who is given advice is helped half the way.

Oma kiitos haisee.

Self-praise stinks.

Oma koti kullan kallis.

One's own home is worth gold. Compare: Home sweet home.

Oma maa mansikka; muu maa mustikka.

Other land blueberry; own land strawberry. That is: Foreign places are nice enough, but home is sweeter.

On taottava silloin kun rauta on kuuma.

Iron must be forged when it is hot. One meaning: Look out for opportunities that come in your way to improve your life.

On vuohellakin parta, vaan ei miehen mieltä.

A goat may have a beard, but not the mind of a man. Meaning: Mere formal signs of authority are not all it takes to make you one.

Parempi karvas totuus kuin makea valhe.

Better a bitter truth than a sweet lie.

Pessimisti ei pety.

A pessimist will not get disappointed.

Raja se on raittiudellakin.

Even abstinence has its limit.

Samanlaiset linnut lentävät yhdessä.

The same kind of birds fly together. Compare: Birds of a feather flock together.

Sanasta meistä, sarvesta härkää.

Take a man by his word, take a bull by its horn.

Se ei pelaa, joka pelkää.

He who is [awfully] afraid does not gamble.

Se mikä on ollutta, on mennyttä.

What has been is gone.

Sen minkä ilotta oppii, sen suruttaa unohtaa.

What one learns without joy, one forgets without grief.

Sota ei päätä kuka on oikeassa, vain sen että kuka on jäljellä.

War does not determine who is right, only who remains.

Tieto on taidon perusta.

Knowledge is the foundation of skill. Or: Knowledge is the foundation of art.

Vaihtelu virkistää.

Variation refreshes.

Viisas oppii toisten virheistä - tyhmä ei omistaankaan.

The wise learn from mistakes of others, the fools won't learn even from their own ones.


Finnish proverbs in English and Finnish, Literature  

Harvesting the hay

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