The Hungarian language has a rich vocabulary. As a result, there are many Hungarian sayings and proverbs. There are some that are used abroad, but there are also some that, if we were to translate them for our English friends, they would certainly look at us very strangely.
In this saying, it is not a worm or a beetle shouting in a tree. The old folk term for wolf was worm, while the tree referred to a wooden trap. So, the howl of a worm trapped in a tree is actually the howl of a trapped wolf.
The meaning of this saying is that someone is doing something wrong. Because if you put the wrong type of wood on the fire, for example, wet wood, it will produce a lot of smoke. Just like doing the wrong thing can have negative consequences.
Do we leave one wooden picture behind the other? Woodcuts used to be made of religiously venerated figures. The saying went that if you left someone behind, you left them to their fate, and let anything happen to them, as God and fate would have it.
This is meant for the elderly people who, despite their age, are still often romantic. One’s love life does not stop above a certain age, i.e. an old goat also licks the salt.
Even if this saying is not used in other countries, it is easy to guess what it means. It is used to describe pointless, useless, futile actions and situations. It is not worth the effort.
This saying sums up the fact that even if a group is not so strong, if they outnumber the opponent, it is worth fighting. This phrase underlines the importance of teamwork because there is power in numbers.
If the horse ran away with him, he trusts himself too much. Hungarians are often described as a nation of horses. Usually, the rider leads the horse, but when the horse runs away, the rider is not the true leader.
It is not often used, but in the old days, when someone cried, people said “why are you giving drinks to the mice”? English people would simply ask: “why are you crying over spilt milk” or “what is the problem”?
Hungarians use this for something that is very, very far away.
This is related to the saying that many geese can beat a pig. This saying is also about how it is difficult to succeed alone. If you see one swallow in the sky, it is not certain that it will be summer, but if you see many swallows, it is almost certain that winter has passed.
If someone is looking for a needle in a haystack, they are tackling an impossible task.