One of the most fantastic things about learning a new language, or a new culture, is encountering its proverbs. Proverbs give you a way into the heads of native speakers: it highlights the sometimes very strange ways of thinking they have - and sometimes, it's just plain funny. Proverbs are so familiar to native speakers that they do not recognize them strange, even is they sound rather twisted to someone who hears them for the first time! Here are a couple of gems from Hungarian proverbs to give you a taste of the rather peculiar Hungarian thought process.
It fits like a velvet saddle fits a donkey. - Something is not suited for the occassion or the person.
A shared horse has puss on its back. - People don't take very good care of shared property.
It's hard to ride two horses with one ass. - You can't do multiple things well at the same time.
You can spread him/her on bread. - He or she is very kind.
You dad was not a glazier! - You are not invisible and you are blocking my sight.
Even the branches pull on a poor man. - Additional bad things befall one who is already in a bad situation.
He/she is looking for a knot on a bulrush. - Someone who is never satisfied and looks for something to criticize all the time.
Running is a shame, but useful sometimes.
An old goat licks the salt, too. - Being old doesn't mean people don't enjoy things.
He got into it like a puppy into barking. - Someone gets really good at something with a bit of practice.
More days than sausages. - Be mindful of your resources, try to economize.
Fish stinks from its head. - It's the leader's fault if an enterprise goes south.
Poor man cooks with water. - In bad situations, make us of what you have.
One swallow doesn't make summer. - One person is not enough to bring changes.
A lot of small parts can do a lot.
They don't eat scalding porridge. - Don't rush into it, the situation is not that bad.
A one-eyed man is king among the blind. - Everything depends on the circumstances.
Better a sparrow today, than a bustard tomorrow. - Focus on what you have at the moment, and don't expect something better to come along in the future.