Manx Proverbs in English and Gaelic
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Proverbs of Man (Mann, Manx) reflect the common sense of people and nature there throughout recorded history. We may get valuable glimpses of Manx peculiarities, manners and customs from its folk lore, thinks Sophia Morrison (1860-1917) in her introduction to Manx Proverbs and Sayings, 1905. [Mpr]
CLIMATE AND OTHER CONDITIONS: Manx lies in the Irish Sea off the northwest coast of England. Manx is not part of the United Kingdom, but a somewhat self-governing crown possession (since 1828). The climate is maritime temperate, with cool summers and mild winters. The island's farms produce oats, wheat, barley, turnips, and potatoes, and cattle and sheep graze on the pastures of the central massif.
HISTORY: The Isle of Man (Manx) has a long and complex history and cultural heritage. At one time Norwegians colonised the Orkneys, Faroes, and Iceland, and Manx. The island became the centre of a Viking kingdom that included the western isles of Scotland at its height. That Norse (Viking) invasions began about AD 800, and the isle was a dependency of Norway until 1266. Thus, the Isle of Man was a Viking Kingdom for almost 500 years. During that period Man came under a Scandinavian system of government, and the Celts and Norwegians blended well. The Norwegian king sold Man in 1266. The island came under the control of England in 1341. From then the island's successive feudal lords styled themselves "kings of Mann". The British Parliament bought sovereignty over the island in 1765.
REMARKABLE TYNWALD: Throughout the centuries the Isle of Man has developed a way of life and a culture all of its own. Many world events such as the Roman and Norman invasions of Britain passed it by. Celts and Vikings came together as one nation there with a unique system of Government that still exists. It is called Tynwald, and is the oldest working parliament in the world. [◦Link]
A friend by you is better than a brother far off.
A rich man without liberality is like a tree without fruit.
A short courtship is the best courtship.
A stitch in due time saves nine.
A wise man will not receive rebuke [partial].
After spring-tide, neap.
An eel by his tail, an Irishman at his word.
As poor as a church mouse.
Avoid all evil
Better leave something to an enemy than borrow from a friend.
Better to be poor and honest than to be rich and lying.
Between two stools is a fall.
Black as is the raven, he'll get a partner.
Blood is thicker than water.
Choose him for a friend who incites you to good works.
Don't tell me what I was, but tell me what I am.
Eaten bread is forgotten [And a good turn is soon forgotten].
Eaten food is forgotten.
Foolish spending is [a] father of poverty.
Give a piece to the raven and he'll come again.
Hold (curb) your tongue, boy. [A common phrase, frequently used towards a person telling
an improbable tale. It is a good-humoured but expressive mode of endeavouring to check the
relater of the story, and to intimate that he is telling what is not strictly true.]
Hot broth softens hard bread.
How good to be forward, but how bad to be too forward.
If you would grow poor without knowing it, put your helpers to work and go to sleep
It is easy to bake where there is plenty of meal.
It's good to be forward, but bad to be too impudent.
Learning is fine clothes for the rich man, and riches for the poor man.
Let every bird hatch its own eggs.
Listen with each ear, then to judgment.
Make hay while the sun shines.
Man has his own will, but woman has her own way.
Many a man has been guarding the bush and another plucking the fruit.
Many men many minds.
Maybe the last dog is catching the hare.
Near is my shirt, but nearer is my skin.
Never marry an heiress, unless her father has been hanged. (She is sure to be proud.)
Poor, poor for ever.
Praise the fine day in the evening.
She's for knitting and sewing and scraping potatoes, and you should be glad to catch the
like. (Part of a song.)
Store is no sore.
Strike while the iron is hot.
Ten thousand of the greatest faults in our neighbours is of less consequence than the
smallest of our own.
The black ox never stamps on his own foot.
The coroner and the lawyer grow fat on the quarrels of fools.
The crooked bannock straightens the body.
The evening comes to us all, i.e., the shadow of death comes to all.
The greatest pleasure in life lies in doing that which people say we cannot do.
The little hemlock is sister to the great hemlock.[of sin]
The man who looks after his own work has plenty to do to keep everything right.
The man who minds his own business well has always enough to do.
The more a man catches the more he'll have.
The remembrance of the heart is better than the remembrance of the head.
The smaller the company the bigger the share.
The tree is known by its fruit.
The weaknesses of old age are no fit cause for laughter, since they must be our own
portion at the end.
They live like cat and dog.
To share is sweet, but to pay is bitter.
Two faggots will burn better than one.
What must be, will be.
What's taken well is better than what's well done.
When a man wants a wife, he wants but a wife; But when he has got a wife, he wants a
When men are rightly occupied their happiness grows of their work.
When the sun shines is the time to make up hay.
When the wind blows the sea is moving.
Where there are women there is talk, where there are geese there is keck, where there
are tailors there are crabs, where there are carpenters, there are chips. [cf. Moore's Folk
Lore of the Isle of Man, page 183.
While seeking new friends, hold to the old.
Whoever is durable, the aged will not be durable.
Wisdom is folly unless a wise man guides it.
Wit bought is the wit best, If it be not bought too dear.
Your first care must be the care of your own heart.
Fli: Moore, Arthur William, coll. The Folk Lore of the Isle of Man, Being an Account of Its Myths, Legends,
Superstitions, Customs, and Proverbs, Collected From Many Sources; with a General
Introduction; and with Explanatory Notes to each Chapter. Douglas, Isle of Man:
Brown & Son, 1891. On-line.
Mms: Harrison, William, coll., ed. Mona Miscellany: A Selection of Proverbs, Sayings, Ballads, Customs,
Superstitions, and Legends, Peculiar to the Isle of Man. Douglas, Isle of Man:
The Manx Society, 1869. On-line.
Mpr: Morrison, Sophia and Charles Roeder, colls.
Manx Proverbs and Sayings. Reprint. Douglas, Isle of
Man: The Isle of Man Examiner, 1905. On-line.
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