Translations of the proverbs

Geographical borders, linguistic borders and cultural borders do not always coincide. For practical reasons I have classified the proverbs only according to the languages and the countries they originate from. ‘As far as possible’ needs to be added here: sometimes sources only mentioned the country (e.g. Nigeria), or the region (e.g. West Africa), or only the language: e.g. English, a language spoken in many countries, or Uyghur (spoken partly in China and partly in the Russian Federation), or Bengali, spoken in India and in Bangladesh. Some ancient civilizations, such as Mesopotamia, or the Roman Empire, have disappeared altogether, and their languages are dead, but their proverbs survived. The alphabetical list of languages mentions all the countries where the languages are spoken (or were spoken, such as Sumerian or Latin), so that readers can easily relate even the lesser-known languages to their respective contexts of origin.

The proverbs have been translated as literally as possible. I have checked unclear translations and meanings with knowledgeable native speakers and/or specialists in the cultural field concerned. Sometimes a word has been added in square brackets for reasons of clarity. It regularly occurs that proverbs exist in more than one language, and those languages have been added in round brackets. Even though the more than fifteen thousand proverbs collected here originate from almost 300 languages and at least 150 countries, this is only a modest first inventory of all there is. Millions more proverbs could of course have been collected and studied, but the selection here is a reasonable first sample that mirrors a fair profile of women’s representations in proverbs worldwide.