Trí C. Trần: Essential Vietnamese Grammar

Out of curiosity, I flipped through Trí C. Trần’s Essential Vietnamese Grammar to see what he teaches English speakers our language. Then I came across his translation of Vietnamese proverbs sprinkled throughout the book. I collected them here:

Sông sâu còn có kẻ dò, Nào ai lấy thước mà đo lòng người. (Even a deep river can be fathomed by somebody, but no one could ever use a yardstick to measure the depth of the human heart.)

Uống nước nhớ nguồn (When drinking water (from a brook), you should think of where the source begins.)

Ăn trầu thì phải có vôi, Cúng rằm thì phải có xôi có chè. (Areca nuts must be chewed together with slaked lime; mid-month offerings must include sticky rice and desserts.)

Vụng múa chê đất lệch. (An unskilled dancer often blames the ground for being uneven.)

Cha mẹ nuôi con biển hồ lai láng, Con nuôi cha mẹ tính tháng tính ngày. (How much parents nourish and nurture their children is as endless as oceans and lakes, while the children calculate days and months when it’s their turn to take care of their parents.)

Ăn lấy chắc, mặc lấy bền. (Eat solid food and wear durable clothing.)

Được bữa giỗ, lỗ buổi cày. (Going to a death anniversary banquet means losing a plow day.)

Giàu thú quê không bằng ngồi lê kẻ chợ. (A wealthy person in the countryside cannot compare with one hanging around in the city.)

Trông trời cho chóng gió đông, Cho thuyền được gió, cho nhông tôi về. (I hope that the east wind will soon blow, so all the boats will sail along with it and my husband will come home.)

Thương nhau mấy núi cũng trèo, Mấy sông cũng lội, mấy đèo cũng qua. (One would climb any mountain, cross any pass and swim in any river to be with their lover.)

Trong đầm gì đẹp bằng sen, Gần bùn mà chẳng hôi tanh mùi bùn. (What other flowers are more beautiful than the lotuses in the marsh Which grow near the mud but are still good smelling?)

Ra đồng gặp vịt thì lùa, Gặp cướp thì đánh, gặp chùa thì tu. (If you happen to see a flock of ducks out in the fields, herd them; if you bump into some robbers, fight them; and if you find a temple, become a monk there.)

Bán anh em xa, mua láng giềng gần. (Sell your faraway siblings to buy some nearby neighbors.)