How to use this app

How to use this app

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On the first screen you see a list of randomly chosen proverbs, each in a different language that has been randomly selected from the thirty languages available in the Proverbium. Each one has a little flag to denote the place where it was originally spoken. Select any of these flags or proverbs.

The program assumes that the language of the proverb you have selected is your mother tongue, or at least one that you know very well. In language teachers' parlance, this is L1, or your Source Language.

The selected proverb in other languages

On the second screen you find the language you are learning, the L2 or your Target Language. You see a list of language families. Selecting a family opens up a list of languages in that family. When you have found your L2, select it.

On the third screen you see the proverb you selected on the first screen in big type and below it the equivalent proverb in the other languages. Each of these also has the first three letters of the name of that language in your mother tongue. Select any of these.

On the fourth screen you see a list of a dozen or so proverbs in your target language.

Proverb list

You may change your choice of language at any time by clicking either of the blue buttons below the proVERBS title, the ones with the flags and language names on them. You can also reverse these two languages by clicking the toggle button to the right of them: Switch.

Select any proverb and the list will expand to show two or more items about it.

Translation, being a sense-for-sense translation of the L2 proverb into L1.

Equivalent, being the similar proverb in L1 of the L2 one. Surprisingly often these are the same, or virtually the same: consider [Eng] One swallow does not make a summer [Fre] Une hirondelle ne fait pas le printemps [Spa] Una golondrina no hace verano [&c]. This is because our common European Judeo-Christian heritage means that many proverbs originate in the Bible or from the influence of classical Greece and Rome, via the great 16th century collections of proverbs by Erasmus.

Meaning, being the significance or moral of the proverb.

Note, sometimes included when the general significance of the proverb needs a particular explanation of its expression in L2. Thus the equivalent of the English "To carry coals to Newcastle" in German means "To take owls to Athens" or in Italian means "To take vases to Samos": the note explains these expressions.

These items are followed by a [See equivalents in other languages] button. Clicking this will show, grouped by language family, buttons showing on the upper line the proverb in L2 and below the translation in L1. Clicking any of these will change your L1 and take you to the second screen where you start choosing your L2.

At the foot of the list there is a Continue button, if there are more proverbs available in that language, or a Request Notification button if not: clicking this generates an e-mail asking to be informed when they are available.


Clicking the View flashcards button will show the Question side of a flashcard.

You see a word in L2 followed by an equals sign, a question mark and the L1 flag. Below it is the proverb with the word in the question replaced by [ ? ].

It is easier to remember the meaning of a target language word in your mother tongue than the other way round. However, you can switch these by clicking the toggle button to the right of the right-hand flag. This choice will continue until changed again.

You seek to recall what the word is, then click the Answer button. This flips the flashcard so that you can see the answer and the full proverb, with the question word replaced. Note that the word in the question is its uninflected or dictionary form, and usually not the same as its inflected form in the proverb.

In some language combinations such as L1=Eng, L2=Spa, there is below the proverb a grammar note and a word-for-word translation. The latter places the L1 meaning directly over the L2 word.

Below the proverb is a pair of buttons. The green one has a tick on it and the red one a cross. You judge whether you have correctly recalled the word or not and click the appropriate button: this brings up the next question or, if it is the last flashcard based on that proverb, restores the proverb list.

We are considering developing this aspect of the system to make it a truly powerful vocabulary booster. Google wikipedia and leitner system and you will see what we want to add.

Other navigation buttons

Most pages have a "header bar" which has a "home" button, enabling you to start-over: Home

In the footer of most pages, the About button takes you to an informational page about the app.