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This question about a translated Russian proverb sparked my meta: Words are not Sparrows, once they have flown they cannot be recaptured

I commented under it with my own translation of an Indian proverb: A weapon that has left your hand, and a word that has left your mouth - you cannot get them back.

I couldn't find any similar English proverbs yet, which is why I went to using an Indian one.

Would it be an acceptable answer as well? Or should it be restricted to the comments section?

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    Literal translations of foreign proverbs are interesting but would lack the usage element which is what OP is asking for. BTW OP already gives the literal translation of the proverb they use in Russia. – user66974 Oct 6 '17 at 10:36
  • @Josh Your thoughts on this one? english.stackexchange.com/a/412932/50044 – NVZ Oct 6 '17 at 10:37
  • That is a quote at best, but it doesn't really help with what OP is looking for. – user66974 Oct 6 '17 at 10:39
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Bear in mind that you are answering on the website "English Language and Usage". An Indian proverb is not part of the English language; a literal translation is not part of English usage (unless of course the proverb has been absorbed into English or there is an English version; but that's a completely different situation).

This isn't an obvious point and I wouldn't flag such an answer. I might, though, downvote it as unhelpful.

  • Makes sense. Thank you. So if it were commonly used in English, it would have been fine, I see... :) – NVZ Oct 6 '17 at 10:45
  • "unless of course the proverb has been absorbed into English or there is an English version" __ that is the crucial distinction here. – English Student Oct 6 '17 at 13:18
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My advice would be always check if the saying exists in English as well.

It seems that "Words are like arrows, once loosed you cannot call them back" is a well-quoted saying in English and is wrongly attributed to all sorts of individuals.

So, you almost missed out on a giving great answer. Go do it!

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