Proverbs and Idioms (Maele) 
& Riddles (Dilotho)


PROVERBS AND IDIOMS (MAELE)

Proverbs

Bo tsholwa bo tjhesa, bo tsohe bo fodile. (Tempers cool down with time.)
Botswa ha bo jelwe. (Laziness does not pay.)
Dikgomo ke banka ya Mosotho. (Cattle are the bank of a Mosotho.)
Ditabana di tswala ditaba. (Mighty things rise from trivial ones.)
Dithoto ke lefa la ba bohale. (Fools are stepping stones of the wise.)
Ha o otla ntja, e tla betla meno. (If you beat a dog, it will bare its teeth.)
Ho bea ditho ho hlahisa kgomo. (Patience is a virue.)
Ho bua hase ho phetha. (Great talkers are never great doers.)
Ho lwana badula-mmoho. (Those who stay together often quarrel.)
Katse ha e le siyo, tweba di a hlanaka. (If the cat is away the mice will play.)
Leboela ha le ngallwe. (You may succeed where you once failed.)
Leboela le a ja. (Perseverance pays.)
Lefu ha le jwetse. (Death may strike at any time.)
Leshano ha le ruise motho. (Lies do not pay.)
Matsatsi a loyana. (Days are not the same.)
Mejo ha e rutanwe, ho rutanwa ditlhare. (Every man is the architect of his own fortune.)
Mekoko ha e qhwaelane. (Every one fends for himself.)
Meso e tswala meswana. (Procrastination is the thief of time.)
Metse e metle kantle. (Appearances are deceptive.)
Mmetla-kgola o e lebisa wabo. (Charity begins at home.)
Mohana ho jwetswa o tshohela leomeng. (A word is enough to the wise.)
Mohlanka wa moreneng, morena. (The king's messenger is as good as his master.)
Moiketsi ha a llelwe. (He who rejects advice deserves no sympathy.)
Moketa ho tsoswa o itekang. (God helps those who help themselves.)
Moloi ha a mela boya. (An evil doer has no distinguishing mark.)
Mpho ha e halalwe. (One never refuses a gift.)
Ngaka e rutwa wa dihlare, mejo ha e e rutwe. (A doctor is taught medicine, but not the charges.)
Ntja e tsokela ya e fang. (A dog follows the one who feeds it.)
Pere e wa e ena le maoto a mane. (To err is human.)
Pinyane ha e senye motse. (It is wise to keep certain things secret.)
Sefate se tsejwa ka ditholwana. (A tree is known by its fruit.)
Sejo-senyane ha se fete molomo. (Half a loaf is better than no bread.)
Taba di mahlong. (The face is the index of the mind.)
Tlaila le tlailela morena. (Do not be afraid to make mistakes so that they may be corrected.)
Tsela-kgopo ha e robatse naheng. (The beaten track is the safest.)
Tshwene ha e ipone lekopo. (One is blind to one's faults.)

Idioms

Ho aparela motho kobo. (To respect.)
Ho ba hloho e bonolo. (To be clever.)
Ho ba kgwaba la methati yohle. (To be a jack of all trades.)
Ho ba pelo-hlomohi. (To be merciful.)
Ho bina koma hae. (To reveal secrets.)
Ho bona ntja e ntsho. (To faint.)
Ho bonya le morwetsana. (To be in love with a girl.)
Ho di bona matswele. (To run away.)
Ho ema ka ditlhako. (To be tall.)
Ho ema le ho makala. (To be surprised.)
Ho fata kgotso. (To negotiate for peace.)
Ho fata seolo. (To work very hard.)
Ho hana bohane. (To refuse completely.)
Ho hata kwekwe. (To walk gracefully.)
Ho inkela hodimo. (To make oneself important.)
Ho ithoma tshotswana. (To pretend to be busy.)
Ho ja hloho. (To think.)
Ho jaka ka leleme. (To adopt a foreign language.)
Ho jewa ke hloho. (To suffer from head-ache.)
Ho nkgana monkgo. (To be of the same mind.)
Ho nonya motho maikutlo. (To test one's feelings.)
Ho ntshana se inong. (To be close friends.)
Ho nya matsete. (To reveal secrets.)
Ho oma ka hloho. (To nod in agreement.)
Ho oma nthane. (To be very thirsty.)
Ho opela motho mahofi. (To applaud.)
Ho otlela tweba sehong. (To save for the future.)
Ho pheha ka lemina. (To be in mourning.)
Ho qela mohope wa metsi. (To ask for a girl's hand in marriage.)
Ho qetwa ke letsapa. (To be tired.)
Ho ribeha motho ka pitsa ya moeta. (To tell one what he already knows.)
Ho robala ka lephako. (To sleep hungry.)
Ho sebeletsa Mphatshwanyane. (To work for nothing.)
Ho silela ifo. (To live from hand to mouth.)
Ho tlola molao. (To break the law.)
Ho tlotsa motho ka lera mahlonh. (To deceive a person.)
Ho tshaba moru o se nang nkwe. (To fear a harmless thing.)
Ho tshepa ntshepedi ya bontshepe. (To expect something that will never happen.)
Ho tshwara ka meno. (To be very busy.)
Ho utlwa ka tjhetjhe e feta. (To learn from rumour.)
Ho wa phuhla. (To lose all one's wealth.)
Ho ya boya-batho. (To die.)
Ho ya ho ile. (To go on continuously.)
Ho ya masihlwane. (To die.) 

For more maele, order: "Dikapuo Maele: Idioms & Proverbs: Southern Sotho-Afrikaans-English" by JG Gildenhuys, CF Emslie and JJ Moiloa


RIDDLES (DILOTHO)

Question: Monna e molelele e mosweu? (A tall white man?)
Answer: Tsela ya baeti. (A travellers' road.)

Question: Mosadi ya dinyao le mpeng? (A woman who is tattooed even on her stomach?)
Answer: Sesiu. (A grain basket.)

Question: Mmamonyamane, motswa-lehlakeng? (The little mother of blackness, comer from the reeds?)
Answer: Katse. (A cat.)

Question: Phate di a lekana? (Bedding skins of equal length and breadth.)
Answer: Lehodimo le lefatshe. (Heaven and earth.)

Question: Sehlaha sa nonyana se okamela bodiba? (The nest of a bird overhangs an abyss?)
Answer: Letswele la kgomo le okamela kgamelo. (The udder of a cow overhangs a milking pail.)

Question: Nonyana e siyang mahe e balehe? (A bird that leaves its eggs and runs away?)
Answer: Mosi, o siya mollo. (Smoke, it leaves the fire.)

Question: Phutse le hara thota? (A pumpkin in the middle of the field?)
Answer: Kgwedi / mokgubu. (Moon / navel.)

Question: Shweshwe tsa mohlaka o moholo? (Flowers of a big cluster of reeds?)
Answer: Dinaledi. (The stars.)

Question: Se re se ya kwana, eke se tla kano? (While going that way, appearing to be coming this way?)
Answer: Koloi. (A wagon.)

Question: Majwana-mabedi, mabetsa-hole? (Two little stones, the far throwers?)
Answer: Mahlo. (Eyes.)

Question: Tsee, tsee, meutlweng? (Of jumping, jumping in thorns?)
Answer: Sefako - ha se tlola-tlola hara jwang. (Hail - when it jumps about in the grass.)

Question: Monna ya fetolang mmala ka nako le nako? (A man who changes colour from time to time?)
Answer: Lempetje. (Chameleon.)

Question: Qhekwana le edile? (A little old man with a clear face?)
Answer: Lebese - bosweu ba lona. (Milk - its whiteness.)

Question: Mohlankana ya dulang lehaheng? (A young man who lives in a cave?)
Answer: Leleme. (Tongue.)

Question: Saga morung o motsho? (A saw in a black forest?)
Answer: Sekere, ha se kuta moriri. (A pair of scissors cutting hair.)

Question: Tshimo ya ka eo ke e lemang ka matsoho, ha dijo tsa yona di butswitse, ke di kotula ka mahlo. 
(My field which I plough with my hands; when its crops are ripe, I harvest them with my eyes.)
Answer: Lengolo. Ke le ngotse ka matsoho, ha ke qetile ke le bala ka mahlo. 
(A letter. I wrote it with my hand and on finishing, I read it with my eyes.)

 


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J. Olivier (2009)