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Ilocano Proverbs and Sayings

From Carl Rubino's Ilocano Dictionary and Phrasebook (New York: Hippocrene Books, 1998).

Ilocano is an Austronesian language spoken by nine million people in Northern Luzon, Philippines. It is also historically the largest Philippine language spoken in the United States. Nearly 1/5 of Hawaiian residents can claim some Ilocano heritage. For more information see Carl Rubino's home page. If you have a proverb in a minority Philippine language, please feel free to send it to the author.

Ti bassít a káyo nalaká a lintegén, ngem no dakkél narigáten.
A young tree is easy to straighten, but when it's big it is difficult.

Ti táo nga mannaríta, awán ti ania nga magapuánanna.
A man that talks too much accomplishes little.

Mabiág ti kalkalsáda, matáy ti koskosína.
Captivating in the street, dead in the kitchen (lady who dresses beyond her means)

Ti napudpudno a gayyémmo, am-ammontó no addáka ití pelígro.
A true friend is known in time of need.

Tay áso nga taol nga taol saán a makakagát ken makadunor.
Barking dogs seldom bite.

Awán kas iti sursúro a sanikuá, ta daytá awán makatákaw kenká.
Knowledge is wealth that can't be stolen.

No trabáho, gulpién, no kanén, in-inúten.
If it's work, do it fast. If it's food, eat it little by little.

Ti táo a manákem, dína makíta ti panagdissó ti sakána ití dagá.
Kitáenna ketdi ti sumarunó a baddekánna.
A wise man doesn't see his foot on the ground, he watches his next step.

Ti nalaká ti pannakasápulna, nalaká met ti pannakapúkawna.
What is easily acquired is easily lost.

Ti kukuá masapúlan ngem ti pintas saán.
Wealth can be acquired but beauty cannot.

Ti agkuták, isú't nagitlóg.
He who cackles laid the egg (he who talks first is the guilty party).

Uray kukuá a tawíden, no addá la ket naimbág a nákem.
One need not inherit wealth if he inherits good manners.

No addá sabsábong, agaarák dagití kulibangbáng.
Where there are flowers there are butterflies (young women attract young men)

Kugtár ni kabaián, ilot ni kalantangan.
The kick of a female carabao, the massage of the male. (women can't hurt men physically)

Puráwto ti wáken, nangísittó diay kannawyen.
The crow will turn white and the heron black (said to express impossibility)

Aniánto pay serbí diay rúot no natáyto met diay kabálion?
Of what use is grass when the horse is dead? (said to misers)

Ti kamátis, di agbúnga ti manggá.
The tomato plant doesn't grow mangos. (A good person doesn't come from a bad family)

Ti útang mabayádan, ngem ti naimbág a nákem saán.
A debt can be paid, but a kind act cannot.

Ti napíli makapíli ti kuggangí.
He who is choosy often picks the worst.

Nalpás ti áni, awán ti garámi.
After the harvest, there's no hay. (Deeds cannot be undone)

Uray naáta tay tungo, no maisungród, sumgedtó.
Even if the firewood is green, it will burn when lit (man and women together will eventually be attracted to each other)

Naim-imbág ti matáy ta malipátanen ngem ti agbiág a maibabaín.
It's better to be dead and forgotten than to live in shame.

Sasáor banbannóg no sabáli ti aglamlámot.
Useless labor if someone else eats from it (said if another reaps benefits of your work)

Ti madí a pagbagbagaán agturóng ití pagrigátan.
He who refuses advice will end up in hardship.

Ti agmúla, agápit.
He who sows, reaps.

Awan libég a di aglitnáw.
There is no muddy water that doesn't clear (One can always change one's ways)

Di pay nalúto ti pariá simmagpáw ti karabása.
The bittermelon is not yet cooked and the squash jumped in (who asked you to join in?)

Aluádam no matupraan met la ta rúpam.
Be careful that you don't spit on your own face.

Uray isubsúbomon, mateppáyto láeng.
Even if you put it in your mouth, it can fall out (it is not unconditionally yours)

No agtúdo, matuduán ámin a táo.
When it rains, everyone gets wet (gifts must be given to all)

Ti kabálio no bulbuloden, ti ngípenna di kitkitáen.
When a horse is borrowed, don't look at its teeth (don't criticize what you borrow)

Ti agsíli magasángan, ket ti agiggém ti bánga maugingan.
He who eats chili gets burned and he who touches the pot gets charcoal on his hands.

Awán ti ngumáto a dínto bumabá.
What goes up must come down.

Saánmo a mapadára ti awán dárana.
You cannot squeeze blood out if there's none left. (said by a debtor)

No awán ti ánus, awán ti lámot.
If there is no patience, there will be no food.

Matáy ti agur-úray, mabiág ti paur-úray.
He who waits dies, he who makes others wait lives.

No sáan nga makaammó nga nangtaliáw ti naggapuánna, saán a makadánon ti papanánna.
He who does not look back to his origins will not reach his destination.

Yánud ti danúm ti matmatúrog nga udáng.
A sleeping lobster is carried away by the current.

Perdisión bagás, agráman tuyo.
Rice is wasted, even the bran. (said when everything ventured is lost)

No aniá ti imúlam, isú ti apítem.
Whatever you sow, you reap.

Ti ubing nga matungpal amin a kayatna, awan ti nasayaat a banagna.
A child that is given everything will rarely succeed in life.

Awan lalaki nga natured wenno nabaneg no ti babai ti sanguanan agsainnek.
No man is brave in the presence of a crying woman.

Sabali nga ili, sabali nga ugali.
Different towns have different customs.



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