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...is still a pig.

English translation: You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

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00:14 Aug 31, 2006
English to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature / Textbook on internal branding
English term or phrase: ...is still a pig.
How does the first part of this saying go?
Is there an even better saying with the same meaning?

The German textbook I'm translating refers to an "Arabic saying" that allegedly goes something like this: "An ass clothed in silk is still an ass."

I do like that one (;-)), but I probably ought to use the real thing, hence my question to you.
:-)

BTW—I put it under "Poetry & Literature" for lack of (finding) a better category.
Derek Gill Franßen
Germany
Local time: 21:08
English translation:You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
Explanation:
A similar expression in English.
Selected response from:

Michael Barnett
Local time: 15:08
Grading comment
Selected automatically based on peer agreement.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +9You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
Michael Barnett
5 +1Like a donkey in humane cloths
Fayez Roumieh
5 +1"A pig wearing lipstick isi still a pig."
Joe L
3 +2No matter how your dress it up, a pig is still a pig.Ken Cox
4You can cut off a pig's tail and ears but it will still be a pig.Will Matter
3A dressed up pig is still a pigAnna Maria Augustine at proZ.com
3a pig in silk is still a pig
Kim Metzger


Discussion entries: 1





  

Answers


12 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
a pig in silk is still a pig


Explanation:
I've found several variations of this, Derek, but I don't think it's necessarily an Arabic proverb.

Charlton started the season with a convincing victory, but a pig wearing silk is still a pig.

http://soccerphile.blogspot.com/2005_08_01_soccerphile_archi...


Kim Metzger
Mexico
Local time: 14:08
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 277
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36 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +9
You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.


Explanation:
A similar expression in English.

Michael Barnett
Local time: 15:08
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 36
Grading comment
Selected automatically based on peer agreement.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  xxxPRen: This is the one
2 hrs
  -> Thanks Paula. :-)

agree  Jack Doughty
5 hrs
  -> These ears make excellent dog chews, but alas, our dog Stanley, is kosher.

agree  French Foodie
6 hrs
  -> Thanks Mara!

agree  Lesley Clayton
10 hrs
  -> Thank you Lesley.

agree  jccantrell: Yep, for sure.
13 hrs
  -> Thanks jc.

agree  xxxAlfa Trans
15 hrs
  -> Thanks Marju!

agree  Joe L: Clearly, for the asker's second question, this is the best.
15 hrs
  -> Thank you Joe.

agree  Will Matter: I thought about this but didn't post it. You got it right.
16 hrs
  -> Thanks Will!

agree  xxxanastasia t
2 days3 hrs
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22 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
A dressed up pig is still a pig


Explanation:
We do say this in English but are you talking about pigs or asses/fools?

A fool is a fool whatever he wears....

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Note added at 38 mins (2006-08-31 00:52:19 GMT)
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This?

Book results for The goods the same whatever the packaging
The Electronic Packaging Handbook - by Glenn R. (EDT) Blackwell - 656 pages
50 Trade Secrets of Great Design Packaging - edited by Stafford Cliff - 224 pages
Packaging and Labeling Legislation - by United States. Congress. Senate. Judiciary

Anna Maria Augustine at proZ.com
France
Local time: 21:08
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in FrenchFrench
PRO pts in category: 52
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37 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
You can cut off a pig's tail and ears but it will still be a pig.


Explanation:
Apparently there are many, many versions of this proverb. Some specifically use 'pig', others use nearly any animal that you'd care to name. However, the meaning remains the same: X is always X, regardless of perceived superficial changes in appearance or behavior. Look for the quote i've given here in the link below. HTH.


    Reference: http://www.folklore.ee/folklore/vol17/proverbs.pdf#search=%2...
Will Matter
United States
Local time: 12:08
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 64
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
Like a donkey in humane cloths


Explanation:
Hi, I am Arab from Syria where we use this (saying). We use it always in the context where a person is in a good position whatsoever, but doesn't deserve to be there because he\she known to be stupid or idiot like a donkey. So he\she is like a donkey wearing humane cloths.

Fayez Roumieh
United States
Local time: 15:08
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in ArabicArabic
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thank you, Fayez, for confirming that it is indeed an Arabic expression. (I did not know for sure.) :-)


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Erich Ekoputra: Well, I should trust someone who really uses the word, shouldn't I?
1 day5 hrs
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4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
"A pig wearing lipstick isi still a pig."


Explanation:
This is the original, most common rendition of the expression.

"But a pig wearing lipstick is still a pig, and the Ronster turned Revlon into his personal hookup machine for dates to the Oscars..."
http://www.nypost.com/business/ugly_duckling_business_christ...

"It's going to take a lot more than a little lipstick to change the NBA's thug-life image. A pig wearing lipstick is still a pig."
http://redmeatblog.com/archives/2005/10/nba_dress_code.html

"A pig wearing lipstick is still a pig."
http://www.ricksplates.com/grading.htm

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Note added at 4 hrs (2006-08-31 04:53:34 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Sorry.
"isi" >> "is"

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 4 hrs (2006-08-31 04:58:49 GMT)
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I better withdraw the "this is the original" bit I dashed off without thinking.
I can already feel Will's wrath coming down the pipe towards me.
"A pig wearing lipstick is still a pig." is how "I" have always known
the expression.

Joe L
United States
Local time: 13:08
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Brie Vernier: at a grand total of 9 googles, I think we can safely assume that it's popularity is limited
4 hrs
  -> Actually, 13. Or 174,000 hits on Yahoo. Either higher than any of the other good entries which answered the asker's question "how does the first part of this saying go". Still, the effort you made to make the snide comment was appreciated, if not needed.

agree  Will Matter: My "wrath" is nowhere in sight, amigo. Besides, how "wrathful" can a skinny, old guy be? ;0) Brie wa ii hito da yo, shookai sasete itadakemasu ka?
13 hrs
  -> Arigatou, Will! Shikashi, tabun boku wa kanojo no taipu ja nai. "Skinny" na hou ga moteru!
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10 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +2
No matter how your dress it up, a pig is still a pig.


Explanation:
If you don't mind a somewhat wordy version. Otherwise I prefer Kim's suggestion as short and pithy.

IMHO (a) there is no 'standard' version in English and (b) 'you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear' is not quite the same.

Ken Cox
Local time: 21:08
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 88

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Joe L: I would have to say you are right with both of your IMHO points, and deserve an "agree" for them {but I still like my own little entry! :o) }. In all fairness to Micheal, the asker did also ask for other "better" sayings. Thanx.
5 hrs

agree  Will Matter: The very first thing that I thought of was "A pig in a dress is still a pig' but I don't know where I thought I heard it and had no supporting refs. That's just the first thing that came to mind.
9 hrs
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