[From Manx Soc vol 21]



THESE MISCELLANEOUS PROVERBS, which. are here brought before the Members of the Manx Society, are given more for the purpose of showing the Manx mode of expressing the sentiment than as belonging exclusively to the Isle of Man. No doubt many of them will be found to be of a world-wide use, for the thoughts and modes of expression of most people will naturally partake of some similarity, varying only in the peculiar idiom of that nation which makes use of them. Some of these, however, may be more applicable to Manxmen, and may probably be ascribed to their paternity. Their language is so rich, full of meaning and expression, that it frequently conveys much more than can be expressed in a bald translation ; and if, as it has been remarked, "that it is a doomed language," it is well to embalm some of their sayings in their native tongue before it entirely passes into oblivion.

"Cha jagh moylley ghooinney hone rieau foddey voish e ghorrys."
"Self-praise travels no distance, or is no recommendation."

"My ta keim sy laair, bee keim sy lhiy."
"An amble in the mare is also in the colt."

"Kiangle myr noid,
As yiow myr carrey."
"As an enemy bind,
And a friend you’ll find."

"Cha boght as lugh killagh."
"As poor as a church mouse."

" Tra ta fer laccal ben, cha vel eh laccal agh ben,
Agh tra ta ben echey, téh laccal ymmodee glen."
" When a man wants a wife, he wants but a wife;
But when he has got a wife, he wants a great deal."

" Crén doaie tórt ?"
"How fare you ?"

"Woish y laue gys y veeal."
"From hand to mouth."

"Lhig y my hraa, or Lhiggey Shaghey."
" One who lets by ; one who puts off."

Spoken contemptuously of an idle fellow.

"Tra hig yn laa, hig yn choyrle lesh."
"When the day comes, its counsel will come with it."
"Every day has its night, every weal its woe."—Danish Proverb.

" Laik lhiat ye marish y chioltane ; agh tán eamagh ayd eamagh ny goair."
"Thou wouldest fain be numbered with the flock ; but thy bleat is the bleat of the goat."

"Goll sheese ny lhargagh."
"Going down the declivity."

Spoken of one who is declining or failing in health.

"Shooyllny thieyn."
"Going on the houses"—that is, begging.*

*For a notice of the Manx mode of treatment of beggars, see Mona Miscellany, first series, p. 34 ; but as their hospitality has been so frequently abused by strangers, it is now falling into disuse.

"T’ou cha daaney as clagh vane."
"Thou art as impudent as a white stone."

"T’ou cha daaney as assag."
" Thou art as bold as a weasel."

" Boayl nagh vel aggle cha vel grayse."
"Where there is no fear there is no grace."

"Eshyn neigh gow rish briw erbee téh deyrey eh hene."
" He who will acknowledge no judge condemns himself."

"T’ad beaghey bwoailley er kayt as bwoailley er moddey."
"They live like cat and dog."

"Shegin goaill ny eairkyn marish y cheh."
" We must take the horns with the hide."

" Kione mooar er y veggan cheilley, as kione beg gyn veg edyr. Towse cheilley rish."
"A great head with little wit, and a little head without any."
The Spaniards say, " Long hair and little brains."

"Bwoaill choud as ta’n yiarn cheh."
" Strike while the iron is hot."

People must be plied when they are in a good humour or mood.

"Cre yiow jeh’n chayt agh y chrackan."
"What can you get of the cat but the skin."

" Faggys ta my lheiney aghny sniessey ta my chrackan."
"Near is my shirt, but nearer is my skin."
The Spaniard says, " The shirt is nearer than the coat."

"Myr sniessey da’n chraue s’miljey yn eill."
"The nearer the bone the sweeter the flesh."

"Commee obbyr commee bee."
"Sharing work, sharing meat."

"Coontey ny heïn roish ta ny hoohyn guirt."
" Counting the chickens in the eggs."
"Count not your chickens before they be hatched."

"Cha dooar rieau drogh veaynee corran mie."
" A bad reaper never got a good sickle."

This is similar to the proverb, " A bad workman quarrels with his tools."

" Eshyn yiow skeilley, yiow eh craid."
" He who gets imposed upon is mocked."

" Ta cree dooie ny share na kione croutagh."
"Better is a kind heart than a crafty head."

" Ta dooinney creeney mennick jannoo carrey jeh e noid."
"A wise man often conciliates his enemy."

"Myr smoo siyr smoo cumrail."
" The more haste the more hinderance."

"Hig daill gys eeck."
" Credit will come to payment."

" Roshee daill y dorrys."
" Credit shall reach the door."

"Cha dennee rieau yn soogh y shang."
" The full belly never feels for the hungefd."

"Cha stamp rieau yn dow doo er e chass."
" The black ox never stamps on his own foot."

" Moyll y droghad myr heu harrish."
"Praise the bridge as you find it."
Another mode of expression is, " Praise not the ford till you are safe over."

" Un eam gys bee, as fees gys obbyr."
" One call to meat, and two to work."

"Eddyr daa stoyl ta toyn er laare."
" Between two stools is a fall."
The Scotch say, " Betwixt twa stools the doup fa’s down."

"Ta bee eeit jarroodit."
"Eaten bread is forgotten."
It is also said, " A good turn is soon forgotten."

" Cha nee yn wooa smoo eieys smoo vlieaunys."
" It is not the cow which shouts most milks the best."

" Dy chooilley ghooinney er e hon hene, as Jee son ain ooilley."
" Every man for himself, and God for us all"
The Spaniard says, " Every one in his own house, and God
in all of them."

" Laa er-meshtey as laa er ushtey."
"A day tipsy, a day watery."
It is also said, " A drunken night makes a cloudy morning."

"Cha vel fer erbee cha bouyr, as eshyn nagh jean clashtyn."
" None so deaf as he who will not hear."

"Siyn folmey smoo sheean nee."
" Empty vessels make the most noise."
Its opposite : " The deepest streams flow with the least noise."

" Ta fooiliagh naareydagh ny smelley na ee scammyltagh.
" Shameful leaving is worse than shameful eating."

" Geeck cabbyl marroo."
"Paying for a dead horse."

"Eskyn nagh bee mie rish e gharran, shegin da yn phollan y chur lesh er e vuin."
" He who wll not be kind to his pony must bring the saddle on his own back."

"Cha daink lesh y gheay, nagh ragh lesh yn ushtey."
"What comes with the wind goes with the water."

" Tra ta’n gheay sy villey yiow shin magh yn Ghlass ghuilley."
." When the wind is in the tree you will find the Lockman."

" Daa Ghrogh eeck tayn geeck rolaue, as dyn geeck edyr."
" Two bad pays, pay beforehand, and no pay at alL"

" Gien nonney gortey."
" Feast or famine."

"Freayl y craue glass."
" Keeping the bone green."

"Surree eh yn flout, my yiow eh yn Glout."
"He will suffer the scoff if he’ll get the prog."

" Gow coyrl bleb son keayrt."
" Take the advice of a fool for once."

" Gowee bleb rish e voylley, as cha
Gow dooinney ereeney rish e phlaiynt.
"A fool will receive praise, and a wise man will not receive rebuke."

"Yn oghe gyllagh toyn losht da’n aiee."
"As the devil correcting sin."

" Cha vow laue ny haaue veg."
" The idle hand gets nothing."

" Eshyn ghuirrys sheilley hayr ys skeilley."
"He who broods evil shall be overtaken by it."
Or, "He who opens a ditch for another shall fall into it himself."

" Haghyr eh ny share na hiollee eh."
" It happened better than he deserved."

" Goll thie yn ghoayr dy hirrey ollan."
" Going to the goat’s house to seek for wool"

" Lhig dy chooilley ushag guirr e hoohyn hene."
" Let every bird hatch its own eggs."

" Lhig dy chooilley vuck reuyrey jee hene."
" Let every pig dig for herself."

There are numerous proverbs inculcating this sentiment, that every man should be independent of his neighbour, as the common saying, " Let every tub stand on its own bottom." The French say, " Chacun ira an moulin avec son propre sac." " Every one must go to the mill with his own sack ; " that is, bear his own burden. Some say, " Let every man soap his own beard." " Let every pedlar carry his own burden."

"Ta chengey ny host ny share na olk y ghra."
" The silent tongue is better than evil speaking."

" Lhig da’n innagh lhie er y chione s'jerree."
"Let the woof rest upon the last end."

"Eshyn lhieys marish moddee, irrys eh marish jarganyn."
"He who will lie down with dogs will rise up with fleas."

" Jean traagh choud as ta’n ghrian soilshean."
" Make hay while the sun shines."

"Ta rouyr chebbyn mie leodaghey mitchoor."
"Too many good offers disgust the rogue."

"Cha daink rieau yn baase gyn leshtal."
" Death never came without an excuse."

" Ta booa vie ny gha as drogh lheiy ec."
" Many a good cow hath but a bad calf."

"Ta dty lhiasagh dty ghoarn."
" Thy recompense is in thine own hand."

"Share goll dy lhie fegooish shibber na girree ayns lhiastynys."
" Better to go to bed supperless than to get up in debt."

" Lhiat myr hoilioo."
"Success as thou deserves."

"Litcheragh goll dy lhie, Litcheragh dy irree,
As Litcheragh dy gholl dys y cheeill jedoonee
" Lazy go to bed, lazy to rise;
And lazy attending church on the Sabbath."

" Yn loam leigh yn loam chair."
" The clean law, clean injustice."

"Ta ny moddee er chur nyn gione sy phot."
" The dogs have put their head in the pot."

"Rouyr moddee, as beggam craueyn."
" More dogs than bones."

" My yial dy moll."
" How promise, how deceive."

The meaning is, that the man who is too ready to promise is often the first to forget his promise, or to deceive."

" Mollee yn molteyr oo my oddys eh."
" The impostor will cheat you if he can."

"Viow moyrn lhieggey."
" Pride will have a fall."

" Cha vel eh cheet jesh da moyrn, dy yannoo red erbee ta laccal leshtal."
" It does not become pride to do what needs an apology."

"Cadley ny moddee tra ta my mraane creearey."
" Dogs sleep when the women are sifting."

" Mie Mannin, mie Nherin."
" Good in Mann, good in Ireland."

"Share yn oik shione dooin, na yn olk nagh nhione dooin."
" Better the evil we know than the evil we do not know."

" Cha bee breagery credit, ga dy ninsh eh y n’irriney."
"A liar will not be believed tho’ he speaks the truth."

" Obbyr dyn shirrey obbyr dyn booise."
" A gift (?work) unasked is a thankless gift."
Also it is said, " Proffer’d service stinks."

"Tra tou jannoo yn trie jean yn oariagh."
" When giving the foot, give the inch."

" Obbyr laa yn ghuiiley buigh or obbyr laue."
" The day work of the yellow lad—hand work."

" Cha nee tra ta’n cheyrrey gee yn ouw te cheet r’ee."
"It is not when the sheep eats the marsh-penny-wort it tells a tale."
It means slow poison is certain death.

" Laa’l pariane, daa honn goll’sy nane."
"St. Bartholomew—two masses in one.

" Ta daa Pharick jannoo un ghimmagh."
" Two small lobsters make a big one."

" Boayl ta gioee ta keck, as boayl ta mraane ta pleat."
" Where there are geese there’s dirt, and where there are women there’s talking."
It is also said, " Where there are women and geese there wants no noise."

" Tasht prughag as ee lughag."
" Store miser, and eat mouse."

"Ta’n red ta goit dy mie,
Ny share na’n red ta jeant dy mie.
" What’s taken well is better than what’s well done."

" Cha nee eshyn ta red beg echey ta boght,
Ayh eshyn ta geearree mooarane
" It is not the man who has little that’s poor, But he who has all, yet pines after more."

" Slaa sahll er toym muck roanyr."
" Daub grease upon the rump of a fat pig."
The Scotch say, " Every man flams the fat sow’s a—."

"Quoi erbee s’beayn cha beayn y chenndiaght."
" Whoever is durable, the aged will not be durable."

" S’beayn dagh olk.’
" Every evil is durable."

"S’banglaneagh yn phy’agh."
" How branchy is the person."
Branchy, full of branches ; said of a person who professes to know a great deal—a boaster ; one who assumes to have a knowledge of all branches of science, etc. " How branchy the fellow is !"

" S’booiagh yn voght er yn veggan."
" How willing is the beggar of the least alms."

"Ta fuill ny s’chee na ushtey."
"Blood is thicker than water."

"Ta un cheyrey screbbagh mhilley yn slane shioltane."
"One scabby sheep infects the flock."

" Tra scuirrys y laue dy choyrt scuirrys yn veeal dy voylley."
" When the hand ceases to give the tongue ceases to praise."

" Myr s’doo yn feeagh yiow eh sheshey."
" Black as is the raven, he’ll get a partner."

" S’giare y jough na yn skeeal."
"A short story, but a long drink."
Is said when a person is desired to cease in his story and pass the bottle.

" Shaghyn dagh olk."
"Avoid all evil"

" Sheayn dty hie as dty aaght ta’n fer-ghriaght ec dty ghorrys."
" Peace on thy house and lodging, the officer of justice is at thy door."

"Ta sheshey chammah as ayrn."
"A companion is as good as a share."

" Dy ye aashagh syn oie, monney shibber nagh ee;
Er nomney n’oo plaiynt ec laccal dty laynt.
(‘ To be easy in bed, you must lightly be fed,
Or else you’ll complain of your health being slain."

" Shibber eddrym lhiabbee ghlen."
" A light supper makes an easy bed."

" Myr sniessey da’n oie slhee mitchoor."
" The nearer the night, the more rogues."

"S’loam ta laare y valley vargee."
" How empty the floor of the town market."

" Ta keeayll ommidjys ny sloo ny t’ee ec dooinney creeney dy reayll."
"Wisdom is folly unless a wise man guides it."

"Guilley smuggagh dooinney glen,
Inneen smuggagh sluht dy ven
" A snotty boy makes a clean man:
A snotty girl a slattern of a woman."

"S’mie ye daaney agh s’olk ve ro ghaaney."
"‘Tis good to be forward, but bad to be too impudent."

"Eshyn smoo hayrys, smoo vees echey."
" The more a man catches the more he’ll have."

" Cha smooinee rieau er yn olk naght ren."
" A man never thinks of the evil he did not do."

" My s’olk ayn smessey ass."
" If bad in, worse out."

" T’an breagerey molley yn sonderey."
"The liar will cheat even the miser."

"Sooree ghiare, yn tooree share."
" A short courtship is the best courtship."

" Ta’n chied sponnag lowit."
"The first error is overlook’d."

" Tra sreaie yn chloie, share faagail jeh."
" When the play is the merriest it is time to break up."

" Myr smoo yn cheshaght, sreaie yn chloie."
"The greater the company, the merrier the play."

"Stiark keayrt ta dooinney siyragh ass seaghyn."
" The hasty man is seldom out of trouble."

"Stroshey yn theay na yn Chiarn."
"The voice of the public is stronger than the Lord of the Manor’s."

" Tra ta thie dty naboo er aile gow cairail jeh dty hie hene."
"When thy neighbour’s house is on fire, mind thine own."

" Ta ushag ayns lane channmah asjees sy thammag."
"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

" Tou er y varney veayl."
"Thou art upon the brink of a precipice."

" Lesh y vioys shegin jannoo."
" Struggle unto death, or with life we must work."

" Ceau crane ayns beeal drogh voddey."
"Throw a bone into a bad dog’s mouth."

"Baase y derrey voddey grayse y voddey elley."
"The death of one dog is the life of another."

" Cha dennee rieau yn voyrn feayraght."
"The proud never felt cold — some say, felt pain."

" Ta fys ec dy chooilley ghooinney c’raad t’an vraag gortagh eh."
"Every man knows where the shoe hurts him."

"Ta’n vry erskyn y churnaght."
"The malt is better than the wheat."

"Ta’n yeean myr e ghooie my vel clooie er e chione."
"The chicken is like its kind before down is on its head."

That is, the chicken fathers itself before it is fully fledged.
"The tree is known by its fruit."


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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001