Dienstag, 7. August 2012

sprichwort der woche: der spatz in der hand ist besser als die taube auf dem dach

Drei junge Spatzen

Many German proverbs have a direct equivalent in English. Proverbs are short and well known sayings and usually  they are very old and nobody is quite sure about their origin.

Look at this German Sprichwort (proverb).

Der Spatz in der Hand ist besser als die Taube auf dem Dach.

Der Spatz is a common bird in Germany as well as Britain. Small and brown with a cheerful call ,you may already have guessed it is a sparrow. So der Spatz in der Hand is the sparrow in the hand.

The next part of the sentence ist besser als is one of those German phrases that sound very like what they mean in English. Ist  means is; besser means better; and als means than.

Another common bird is die Taube. Visitors to British cities can see dozens of these birds, and Trafalgar Square in London is known for its huge numbers. They are large and grey and their call is like a soft hooting. Yes, eine Taube is a pigeon.

Now we come to auf dem Dach. This simply means on the roof.

So literally our German proverb means The sparrow in the hand is better than the dove on the roof. In English we have a very similar proverb - A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Both proverbs mean roughly the same thing; it is better to have something for certain than to try and get something which may be more valuable if it is out of your reach.

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