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ROMANIAN PARALLELS TO THE PROVERBIAL EXPRESSION "TO CARRY OWLS TO ATHENS"

CEZAR TABARCEA

ROMANIAN PARALLELS TO THE PROVERBIAL EXPRESSION "TO CARRY OWLS TO ATHENS"

Responding to Wolfgang Mieder's call for help in locating international variants of the proverbial expression "To carry owls to Athens" in Proverbium, 1 (1984), 183-185, I transcribed all the texts of this type from the great Romanian collection by I. A. Zanne, Proverbele românilor, I-X, 1895-1903. All entries are transcribed exactly, giving for each of them a literal English translation with some short explanations where necssary.

Some considerations about this collection are necessary in order to understand the quotations better. I. A. Zanne was not a philologist, but a cartographer. As a cadastral suveryor he took the opportunity throughout the country to collect many proverbs directly from use. But in spite of the rich data (26,479 entries), the ordering of the material in the collection is deficient. Many proverbs are repeated, the variant-grouping is sometimes arbitrary, and the meaning is not well explained for all the proverbs.

Abbreviations used in the following texts are as follows: Z=Zanne's collection; I, II etc. = volume; 1,2, ... (Arabic figures) = the order-number in the collection; () = page number in the respective volume.

I.  Z,I, 400 (107)

A cãra apã la put.

Carã si el apã la put.
P. Ispirescu, Rev. Ist., I, 460

Nu cãra apã la fîntînã.
Reinsberg-Düringsfeld, II, p. 262.

A duce unde prisoseste deja ceea ce ducem si nu poate fi de nici un folos; a se apuca de o muncã zadarnicã. Intr-un mod figurat aceastã zicãtoare însemneazã: a da sfaturi acelora care ar fi mai bine în stare de a ne povãtui. Latinii ziceau: In sylvam ligna ferre

400 To carry water to the fountain/ put is an old word for fountain, from lat. puteus, cf. fr. puits/

He carries water to the fountain.
P. I. etc.

Don't carry water to the fountain.
R-D etc. 

That is to say to carry something in a place where it is already superfluous and can't be useful; to take up a useless work. Figuratively, this saying means: to advise someone who is rather able to give advice. The Latins said: ...

 

II. Z, I, 401 (108)

A cãra apã la rîu.

Acelasi înteles ca la no. 400.

Latinul zicea: Mari aquam addere si francezul: porter de l'eau à la rivière.

401 To carry water to the river.

The same meaning as no. 400

The Latin said: ...and the French:...

III. Z, I, 944 (234)

A cãra lemne în pãdure.
P. Ispirescu, Rev. Ist., I, p. 460 - Fr. Damé, I, p. 196.

A duce lemne în pãdure.
Laurian & Maxim, II, p. 566.

Vezi Apã, Vie.

A da celui care deja este bogat; a duce un lucru acolo unde nu e de lipsã. 

Intr-un mod figurat aceastã zicãtoare însemneazã: a da poveti acelora care ar fi ei în stare sã ne povãtuiascã. Romanii ziceau: In silvam ferre ligna si Croesi pecuniae nummum addere.

944 To carry wood in the forest.
P. I. etc. 

To carry wood in the forest/ a duce - a cãra are synonymous/
L & M etc.

See Water, Vineyard 

To give something to someone who is already rich; to carry something in a place where there is no lack.

Figuratively this saying means: to advise someone who is rather able to give advice. The Romans said: ... and ...

IV. Z, I, 1236 (304)




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The full text of this article is published in De Proverbio - Issue 11:2000 & Issue 12:2000, an electronic book, available from amazon.com and other leading Internet booksellers.

...

VI. Z, V, 11984 (313)

A vinde castraveti la grãdinar.
D-na E. B. Mawr, p. 44

[a] A vinde grãdinarului castraveti.
G. I. Munteanu, p. 72 - I. Ionescu, Cart. Cit., III, 224

[b] Grãdinarului nu-i vinzi castraveti.
V. A. Forascu, C. Falticeni, J. Suceava

[c] Ti-ai gãsit sã vinzi castraveti la grãdinar.
E. I. Patriciu înv. c. Smulti, j. Covurlui

[d] Vinde castraveti la grãdinar si lui îi e inima acrã.
Gr. Alexandrescu, magistr., j. Putna

[e] Umblã la grãdinar castraveti sã vînzã
Si lui, de dînsii, îi este acrã (a sa) rînza
.
Pann, I, p. 29 - Hintescu, p. 39

[f] Vinzi praji grãdinarului.
Pericl. Papahagi, Zweit. Jahres., p. 179.

Acelasi înteles ca la no. 11980.

Delphinum natare doces.
Prov. Lat.

On ne doit pas enseigner le chat à soriser.
Prov. Franc.

Insegnare a' gatti rampicare.
Prov. Ital. 

Filho de peisce não aprende a nadar.
Prov. Portug.

A perro viejo no hay tustus.
Prov. Span.

Er will den Fischen das Schwimmen lehren.
Prov. Germ.

An old fox needs learn no craft.
Prov. Engl.

 11984 To sell cucumbers to the gardener.

[a] To sell cucumbers to the gardener/ la grãdinar and grãdinarului are synonymous forms in Romanian/.

[b] Don't sell the cucumbers to the gardener.

[c] That's fine, to sell the cucumbers to the gardener!/ The Romanian phrase ti-ai gãsit sã... means 'that's fine', 'what an idea' and marks the scorn for an useless act/.

[d] He sells cucumbers to the gardener and his heart (gardener's heart) is grieved./ Because the Romanians use especially pickled cucumbers the correlation cucumber - sourness - grieve is usual/.

[e] He looks for selling cucumbers to the gardener. And from this (the gardener) has a sourness in his belly./ Two verses from the well-known Romanian poet Anton Pann, who made one of the first collections of proverbs, putting many of them in verses/.

[f] He sells the leek to the gardener./ This is a Macedo-Romanian proverb/.

The same meaning as no. 11980.

VII. Z, V, 11985 (314)

Grãdinarul nu cumpãrã flori.
Baronzi, p. 49

A vinde flori grãdinarului.
Baronzi, p. 47 & 69

Acelasi înteles ca la no 11984. 

Porter de l'eau à la rivière.
Prov. Franc.

 11985 The gardener doesn't buy flowers

To sell flowers to the gardener.

The same meaning as no. 11984.

VIII. Z, V, 11986 (315)

La grãdinari castraveti sa nu vinzi.
Pann, Edit. 1889, p. 154 - Hintescu, p. 70 - Ion Valcof, stud. J. Dolj.

[a] Nu vinde castraveti la grãdinar.
Teodorescu, înv. c. Lipova, j. Vaslui

The full text of this article is published in De Proverbio - Issue 11:2000 & Issue 12:2000, an electronic book, available from amazon.com and other leading Internet booksellers.

Nu vinde flori la grãdinar.
Baronzi, p. 38.

Acelasi înteles ca la no, 11987.

11988 Don't sell flowers to the gardener.

The same meanings as no. 11987.

XI. Z, VI, 13397 (105)

Carã apã-n Dunãre.

Vezi Apã

Duce unde e de prisos, face o muncã zadarnicã. A se vedea no. 400 and 401.

Mari aquam addere.
Prov. Lat.

13397 To carry water into the Danube.

 See Water.

To carry something where it is plenty, to work uselessly. See no. 400 and 401.

NOTE

Previously published in Proverbium 3 (1986), pp. 243-252.
Permission to publish this article granted by Proverbium (Editor: Prof. Wolfgang Mieder, University of Vermont, USA). 

Cezar Tabarcea
Bd. Aviatorilor, 23
Sector 1
71261 Bucuresti
Romania


 
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