Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Italian (Neapolitan) proverb

Neapolitan proverb:  A lavĂ  ‘a capa ‘o ciuccio se perde acqua e sapone

Italian version:  A lavare la testa all'asino si spreca acqua e sapone

English translation:  Washing the donkey’s head wastes water and soap.   

What do you think this proverb means?

(a)  The proverb is about the inevitability of destiny.  It says that whatever we do to try to change/improve someone's outward appearance, that person will always be the same underneath.  

(b)  The proverb advises us not to spend our time trying to reason with a stubborn and unreasonable person because our efforts will be wasted.  

(c)  The proverb expresses the futility of trying to fix a problem when it will only come back again. If you wash the donkey's head, five minutes later it will be dirty again.  

The answer is (b).  The donkey represents a stubborn unreasonable person, and the soap and water represent the time and effort we waste trying to make the person see reason.  For more Neapolitan proverbs, check out Tony's Italian blog. 

Thanks to Mike's friend Giancarlo for sharing this proverb.