Words and Their Stories: Some of Our Listeners’ Favorite Sayings
17 March 2012

Now, the VOA Special English program, WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.

A proverb is a short, well known saying that expresses a common truth or belief.  Many proverbs give advice about the best way to live.

Recently, we presented a program about proverbs.  We asked our listeners to send us their favorite proverbs.  A short time later, we received suggestions from around the world.  We heard from listeners in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.

The top proverb among these listeners is this one: "Where there is a will, there is a way.(有志者,事竟成。) " This means that you can rise above your problems if you have a goal and work very hard.

Some listeners liked another proverb: "Strike while the iron is hot.(趁热打铁) " This means it is best to take action quickly and at the right time.  Another favorite proverb was, "God helps those who help themselves.(自助者,天助之。)"

Xu Da-ju from China wrote that his country has thousands of proverbs.  Several of them are also used in the United States.  One example is "Birds of a feather flock together.(物以类聚,人以群分。)" This means that people who are alike often become friends or spend time together.

Another proverb is "Blood is thicker than water.(血浓于水)" This means family ties are stronger than other relationships.  A similar proverb states "Charity begins at home.(仁爱始于家)" A person should help his family or close friends before helping others.

Alina from China sent us this proverb: "He who would climb a ladder must begin at the bottom.(千里之行,始于足下)" That is good advice when working around your home or looking for a job.

Antonio Jose from Brazil says his favorite proverb is "Tell me who walks with you, and I'll tell you who you are.(观其友知其人)" Didier Vermeulen of France sent us this one: "It does not matter the speed you go.  The most important thing is to never stop.(重要的不是速度,而是永不放弃。)"

Wafaa from Egypt says her favorite proverb is, "Think twice, act wise.(三思而后行)" She also says she is making an effort to use this saying in her life.

Another favorite proverb among our listeners is "Practice makes perfect.(熟能生巧)" This means you will become good at something if you keep doing it.  Another popular proverb is: "If you want something done right, do it yourself.(自己动手,丰衣足食。)"

Najeeb from Afghanistan sent us this proverb: "If you risk nothing, then you risk everything.(万事不冒险将一事无成)"

And, here is the favorite proverb of Marius Meledje in Ivory Coast:  "Your defeat now is your victory in the future.(失败是成功之母)" He says it means you can learn from your mistakes.  This will help you do better when facing similar situations in the future.


This VOA Special English program was written by Shelley Gollust.  I'm Faith Lapidus.  We will present more programs about proverbs in the future.  And you can find more WORDS AND THEIR STORIES at our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.