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Separate the sheep from the goats / de schapen van de bokken scheiden: separate the good from the bad (from the Bible, Matthew 25:33)

Jesus separating sheep from goats, Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, 5th century

Nu heb je het schaap aan het schijten (direct translation: there you have it, the sheep is having a s**t): here comes trouble! I’ll leave it up to your imagination where this saying might derive from…

Als er een schaap over de dam is, volgen er meer (direct translation: if one sheep crosses the weir, more will follow): if one person tries something new, than others will follow.

This probably relates to the herding mentality of sheep and their fear of water. Holland has many canals and ditches separating farmers’ pastures, and if they have to move their flock the sheep are afraid of crossing them. However, once a farmer manages to get one sheep across a weir or bridge, he knows the others will most likely follow suit.

I think I don’t have to spell out for you how many of these sayings can be related to the fashion industry’s misappropriation of the terms WOOL, WOOLLY and WOOLLEN to sell garments that bear no resemblance to the real stuff!

What sayings do you have in your language that contain the words WOOL or SHEEP – or indeed ULD, VILL, LAINE, WOLLE, OLLA, LANA, ULL, BOBHA, GWLAN, OVCE, LAMMAS, MOUTON, SCHAF, DOMBA, SAUER, OVINOS or TUPA? Post them in the comments below. Translations encouraged!

7 thoughts on “SCAEP & SCEAP, WOLLE & WULL – some woolly words from the Netherlands

  1. I like your collection of sheepisms. After a bit if thought and reflections of the times we are in, my contribution would be: “A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves”. My interpretation might be that if the people do not take control. think for themselves, government will rise and do your thinking for you. We face a choice here in the next election, do we give up liberty and self government and choose a nanny state where the government makes most of the decisions and sells us “security”, or do we choose to keep our freedom-and yes…handle the responsibility of our own lives and the work and sacrifice that goes along with that.

    Sheep and wool are sewn into the our fabric. Thanks for the thought provoking topic.
    Kat/Sweet Tree Hill Farm, Virginia, USA
    owner Scarlet Fleece.

  2. Thank you for an interesting post. I recongnized many of the sayings. This “much bleating/noise, but little wool” translates to “paljon porua, vähän villoja”, and it rhymes beautifully in our language (Finnish). One that came to my mind instantly: “rahaa on vaikka lampaat söisi” meaning that one has money enough for sheep to eat.

  3. I enjoy the Wovember posts very much.
    I can quote a Slovenian saying “volk v ovčji koži” meaning “a wolf in sheepskin”, and “volkv ovčji preobleki” meaning “a wolf in a sheep’s clothing”.
    P.S. In Slovenian, SHEEP is OVCA, whereas OF SHEEP, SHEEP’S is OVČJI.

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