you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink

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Raspberryjam

Senior Member
English - UK
How would you translate the following English idiom into Arabic (standard or any dialect - preferably Levantine) : "you can take a horse to water, but you can't make it drink". It means that you can help someone all you can, but in the end they need to decide to help themselves and indeed 'drink'.

Thanks
 
  • ayed

    Senior Member
    Arabic(Saudi)
    There is a part of Quranic verse reads :" إِنَّكَ لَا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ"might connote the whole meaning .
     

    Zahorani

    Member
    Arabic
    There is a saying by a Levantine jurist named Ali al-Tantawi
    "إن السلطان يستطيع أن يُكرِه الناس على أن يخرُجُوا مِن دُورِهم ، ويبدلوا ثيابهم ،
    ولكنه لا يستطيع أن يكرِههم على الخروج عن مبادئهم ، وتبديل أفكارهم ومعتقداتهم"

    whitch means:

    The Sultan (or ruler) can compel people to go out of their homes and change their"
    clothes
    However, he can't force them to deviate from their principles, switch and abandon their "
    "thoughts and beliefs
     

    Tilmeedh

    Senior Member
    English (Canada)
    Thanks for that suggestion, Zahorani.

    I've just come across the below phrases which, I believe, is in Iraqi Arabic; are they used in other dialects?

    (يودي للشط ويرجعه عطشان.)

    (القافل ماتصيرلو جارة.)
     

    Zahorani

    Member
    Arabic
    You are welcome Tilmeedh,
    about the second, I'd never herad before, and don't knwo the meaning of it .
    but from the structure I think it seems to be Algerian; if you had a quotation, I would be thankful
    regarding to the first one it means that
    " the prodigal person takes the dull man to the river and brings him back thirsty. Because he has his means of false persuasion.
    Yes the slang saying used in other dialects like Egyptian, Levantine and other slang dialects
     

    cherine

    Moderator
    Arabic (Egypt).
    (يودي للشط ويرجعه عطشان.)
    This one is used in Egypt but with البحر instead of الشط (baHr is also used for river in some places in Egypt). But it doesn't mean "you can lead a horse to water but can't make it drink", it's used for giving false hope, for tricking people and not giving them what they expect. A cunning person can be described as يِوَدِّيك البحر ويرَجَّعك عطشان (he can trick you, he can take you to water and take you back [still] thirsty).

    Unfortunately, I can't think of something equivalent to the saying in the first post. :(

    Edit: The only remotely similar thing I can thing of is كل شيء بالخناق إلا (كذا) بالاتفاق where كذا is replaced by the thing we want to say can't be done by force. And it means "everything/anything can be done by force except xyz that must be done willingly) For example كل شيء بالخناق إلا الجواز بالاتفاق in the context of trying to force someone to marry someone they don't like.
     

    Tilmeedh

    Senior Member
    English (Canada)
    Zahorani--alas, I don't have a context for these phrases. They came up in a discussion on Facebook where someone asked how to express the English proverb in Arabic.

    Cherine--your explanation of (يِوَدِّيك البحر ويرَجَّعك عطشان) makes me think of 'to lead someone down the garden path'. I believe this English idiom is different, though, because it describes one act of deception, not a pattern of such behaviour.

    Have you heard/read the saying (القافل ماتصيرلو جارة)?
     

    Zahorani

    Member
    Arabic
    After searching and scrutinizing, I finally found it.

    This phrase is an Iraqi dialect, and means:
    That the stubborn has no solution or there is no way to convince him
    Where "قافل" said to a person who holds onto his opinion
    maybe the origin from قفل, and means a lock
    "so the meaning will be "there is a lock on his mind

    as "جارة" is originally a Persian word means cure or solution
    all the words in the phrase are slang
    I hope I could make the meaning clear to you
    Nice to meet you
     
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