Bhadarwahi proverbs

amitabh-vikramAmitabh Vikram Dwivedi is assistant professor of linguistics at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, India. His research interests include language documentation, writing descriptive grammars, and the preservation of rare and endangered languages in South Asia. His most recent books are A Grammar of Hadoti (Lincom: Munich, 2012), A Grammar of Bhadarwahi (Lincom: Munich, 2013), and a poetry collection titled Chinaar kaa Sukhaa Pattaa (2015) in Hindi. As a poet, he has published more than 100 poems in different anthologies, journals and magazines worldwide.

Below is 2 of 6 in a series of monthly installments of Poetry in Translation from lesser known Indo-Aryan languages—namely, Hadoti, Bhadarwahi, and Dogri for Visitant.


Proverbs are usually metaphorical, and they provide traditionally held truth. Bhadarwahi proverbs tell us about the culture and society of the speakers of Bhadarwahi. Here, I give a brief account of Bhadarwahi proverbs. I have used the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) for transcribing them to allow wider readership.

(IPA): International Phonetic Alphabet
(W2W): Word-to-Word Translation
(LT): Literal Translation
(EE): English Equivalent



(IPA):   dʰɑ:n      çeiʈle                kui    peʈe     ei          zəmejɑ           bʰət               kʰə
(W2W): paddy   paddy-field    girl   womb  come   son-in-law  cooked-rice    eat
(LT): Paddy is in the field, daughter is in the womb you invite son-in-law for the meal.
(EE): Haste makes waste.


(IPA):   luhɑ:rɑ          en        kɑnɑ      kes        dʒo      kentʃi          neĩ    epu    dʒo
(W2W): iron-smith    this     arrows   whom  for    someone    not    self    for
(LT):   Someone to an iron-smith: For whom you are preparing arrows,
            Iron-smith: For no one but for myself.
(EE):  A bad way has a bad end.


(IPA):    ʈʰukoro        tʃəʈoro     loɽe
(W2W): spitted   not    lick           should
(EE):  One should keep his/her promises.


(IPA):    zəlte     ɡʰər     erɑ     mũtʰ     hi         səi
(W2W): burnt  home  from  fire       EMP    right
(LT):  When home is burning at least get a burnt log.
(EE):  Something is better than nothing.


(IPA):        ɖumɑ̃        kero     mɑ̃rɑhɑu  epu  sɑhrɑu
(W2W):  lower-caste    of   groom      self   décor
(LT): A lower-caste groom decorates himself.
(EE):  Self-praise is no recommendation.  


(IPA):     nile    drɑmnɑ     dure     rɑ         hernere    bʰote        ən
(W2W):  green   ground    far       from    see-of      become   AUX
(LT): Ground seems greener from far.
(EE): The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.


(IPA):    ɑu:      zençere   mɑhrɑw    biʃo     zençere    məkəɽ       dʒew     zençere     ʈləkəɽ    
(W2W): came    like        groom       sat      like        monkey     went     like     waste-food  
(LT): It came like a groom, sat like a monkey, and left like food waste.
(This proverb is used for snowfall.)


Dwivedi, Amitabh Vikram. A Grammar of Bhadarwahi. Lincom Europa, 2013.

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