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Understanding Belarusian Idioms

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Belarusian, like any other language, is rich with idiomatic expressions that capture the unique cultural nuances and wisdom of its speakers. Idioms are phrases whose meanings cannot be inferred from the literal definitions of the words within them; instead, they carry metaphorical significance that can often be puzzling to non-native learners. Understanding these idioms can offer a window into the Belarusian mindset and enhance one’s fluency in the language. Here are several Belarusian idioms along with their meanings and example sentences.

Чапаў пры разуме
Meaning: Born away from one’s senses; not very smart. This idiom is often used to describe a person who is considered foolish or lacking in common sense.
Я не магу зразумець, чаму ён так зрабіў – здаецца, што ён чапаў пры разуме.

З галоду не памрэ
Meaning: He/she won’t die of hunger; used to refer to someone who always manages to have enough food or means of subsistence, even if they aren’t wealthy or in a good situation.
Нягледзячы на яго скаргі, ён з галоду не памрэ.

І воўку сыт і авечкі цэлы
Meaning: Similar to the English idiom “To have one’s cake and eat it too,” this phrase is used to describe a situation where one can obtain or do two good things at the same time that are normally considered impossible to achieve together.
Ён знойдзе спосаб задаволіць абодва бакі – і воўку сыт і авечкі цэлы.

Трыццацкаротны бур
Meaning: An extremely noisy person; it refers to someone who is loud or makes a lot of fuss.
Калі ён уваходзіць у пакой, усё запаўняецца галасам трыццацкаротнага бура.

Каб мяч у тарбе не прапаў
Meaning: It’s not a waste to take precautions; an expression emphasizing the value of being prepared even if it seems unnecessary.
Я ўпакаваў доўгі плашч – каб мяч у тарбе не прапаў.

Як кабан на новыя вараты
Meaning: Like a boar at new gates; describes a person who is confused or doesn’t know how to handle a new situation or object.
Перад новай тэхналогіяй ён спыняецца як кабан на новыя вараты.

Як снег на галаве
Meaning: Like snow on one’s head; signifies something completely unexpected or a sudden problem.
Гэтая навіна прыйшла да яго як снег на галаве.

Лепей варана ў руцэ, чым журавель у небе
Meaning: A sparrow in the hand is better than a crane in the sky; it’s better to have a small but certain advantage than the possibility of a greater one that may come to nothing.
Я згодны працюваць тут, бо лепей варана ў руцэ, чым журавель у небе.

Understanding and using idioms appropriately can be a rewarding part of learning a new language. For learners of Belarusian, these idiomatic expressions serve not just to convey messages more vividly, but also to provide deeper cultural insights. Remember, language is not only a means of communication but also a reflection of the society and its values. By mastering idioms, one gets closer to thinking and articulating thoughts like a native speaker.

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