English & Japanese Sayings(英語版)

Hi, N here. Today, I’d like to talk about English & Japanese sayings.

Learning a foreign language inevitably involves learning something about the culture and traditions of the people who speak it. As you learn, I think it’s probably natural to concentrate most on the differences from your own  cultural frame of reference.

But while the differences are interesting, I often find the points of similarity even more fascinating. One area in which I have noticed a lot of overlap is in idioms and sayings. These expressions are often used to give advice, or convey ideas that people think are true. These expressions have been passed down over generations; they shine a light on what we have spent time thinking about.

Let’s look at some examples of  some common English & Japanese sayings.

Don’t cry over spilled milk. (こぼれたミルクを嘆いても仕方がない。)
覆水盆に返らず

Big fish in a small pond. (小さな池に大きな魚。)
井の中の蛙

Time flies (when your having fun). (楽しい時は)時間は飛ぶ(ように早い)。
光陰矢の如し

Kill two birds with one stone (一つの石で二羽の鳥をつかまえる。)
一石二鳥

A picture is worth a thousand words. (一枚の絵は1000の言葉に匹敵する。)
百聞は一見に如かず

Ignorance is bliss. (無知は最高の喜びだ。)
知らぬが仏

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. (リスクを負わなければ何も手に入らない。)
虎穴に入らずんば虎子を得ず

Even the big monkeys fall out of the trees. (大きなさるも木から落ちる。)
猿も木から落ちる

Let the cat out of the bag./Spill the beans. (猫を袋から逃がす。/豆をこぼす。)
口が滑る

You reap what you sow. (自分で蒔いた種を自分で刈り取る。)
事業自得

To each his own. (人それぞれ。)
十人十色

As you can see, people on completely different sides of the globe, living in different cultures with different traditions have thought carefully about the same things over the ages. The words and images in each expression reflect our unique cultures, but the overlap in the themes themselves demonstrate our common humanity.

If you’d like to know more about English idioms, why not get an idiom dictionary? Adding idioms into your English makes you easily understood and makes your English sound more polished. Check this out:
Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms

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