Saying in Spanish

English translation: by their songs ye shall know them / you can tell a bird by its song / birds of a feather...

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
Spanish term or phrase:por el canto se conoce el pájaro
English translation:by their songs ye shall know them / you can tell a bird by its song / birds of a feather...
Entered by: Charles Davis

09:27 Mar 18, 2019
Spanish to English translations [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary - Media / Multimedia / Subtitle
Spanish term or phrase: Saying in Spanish
Good morning!

I'm doing some subtitles for a client and I was looking for a well-fitted translation for the following Spanish saying.

"Por el canto se conoce el pájaro"

Here's a link to the definition of the saying:
https://cvc.cervantes.es/lengua/refranero/ficha.aspx?Par=593...

Ideally, I would like to stay within the bird theme, as it's an important part of the video. There's obviously a double meaning there. The character in the video is looking at a bird in a cage and says that saying, but as the viewer, you know that it's aimed at someone in particular. I'd like to provide more context but it's just a snippet of a video. If it's slang it's OK.

I hope some bright spark can enlighten me!
Alan Nicol
Spain
Local time: 00:34
by their songs ye shall know them / you can tell a bird by its song / birds of a feather...
Explanation:
Three suggestions, which is cheating, I know, but it all depends on the exact context and the tone you need to go for.

If the actual meaning is unimportant and all you really need is a bird-related proverb or saying, then "birds of a feather (flock together) would be the obvious choice.

If you need to reflect the actual meaning of the Spanish saying, paraphrased in your reference as "Se conoce la condición de las personas por sus hechos", then the one that comes to my mind is "By their works ye shall know them", which is perhaps a bit old-fashioned, but well known, I would say, and quite widely used. (For that matter, the Spanish saying is said to be "en desuso"). It's derived from the King James version of the bible, Matthew 7.19-20:

"19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew 7:16-20...

And like countless quotations from the King James Bible and Shakespeare, it's become part of the English language, but often with "works" instead of "fruits".

You could then adapt this by replacing "works" with "songs", which has been done more than once before:

https://www.jstor.org/stable/1386377?seq=1#page_scan_tab_con...

But if you think this is too obscure for your audience, you could always go for a more or less literal version: you can tell a bird by its song. It would be a bit lame, because it's not an established metaphorical saying in English, but you could probably get away with it if need be.

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Note added at 22 mins (2019-03-18 09:49:42 GMT)
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The point about my first suggestion is that it only works if people know the original saying (by their works ye shall know them). You have to judge whether this will be the case.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 25 mins (2019-03-18 09:52:16 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I don't think it's essential to use the word "bird", if they're looking at birds in the video at this point.
Selected response from:

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 00:34
Grading comment
Thanks for your help and all the information.
3 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +2by their songs ye shall know them / you can tell a bird by its song / birds of a feather...
Charles Davis
Summary of reference entries provided
Some bird expressions
neilmac

Discussion entries: 3





  

Answers


20 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
by their songs ye shall know them / you can tell a bird by its song / birds of a feather...


Explanation:
Three suggestions, which is cheating, I know, but it all depends on the exact context and the tone you need to go for.

If the actual meaning is unimportant and all you really need is a bird-related proverb or saying, then "birds of a feather (flock together) would be the obvious choice.

If you need to reflect the actual meaning of the Spanish saying, paraphrased in your reference as "Se conoce la condición de las personas por sus hechos", then the one that comes to my mind is "By their works ye shall know them", which is perhaps a bit old-fashioned, but well known, I would say, and quite widely used. (For that matter, the Spanish saying is said to be "en desuso"). It's derived from the King James version of the bible, Matthew 7.19-20:

"19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew 7:16-20...

And like countless quotations from the King James Bible and Shakespeare, it's become part of the English language, but often with "works" instead of "fruits".

You could then adapt this by replacing "works" with "songs", which has been done more than once before:

https://www.jstor.org/stable/1386377?seq=1#page_scan_tab_con...

But if you think this is too obscure for your audience, you could always go for a more or less literal version: you can tell a bird by its song. It would be a bit lame, because it's not an established metaphorical saying in English, but you could probably get away with it if need be.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 22 mins (2019-03-18 09:49:42 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

The point about my first suggestion is that it only works if people know the original saying (by their works ye shall know them). You have to judge whether this will be the case.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 25 mins (2019-03-18 09:52:16 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I don't think it's essential to use the word "bird", if they're looking at birds in the video at this point.

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 00:34
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 28
Grading comment
Thanks for your help and all the information.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  neilmac: "By their deeds ye shall know them" is the (King James?) version I use...
7 hrs
  -> Cheers, Neil :-) Maybe we're dinosaurs and people don't know it any more.

agree  Chema Nieto Castañón: "By their songs ye shall know them" is actually a beautiful rendering, particularly so within the given context of a woman looking at a cage with a bird inside...
3 days 20 hrs
  -> Thank you very much, Chema. I like it :-)
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Reference comments


23 hrs
Reference: Some bird expressions

Reference information:
I tried running a search for bird-related expressions in English to see if I could find a suitable one to fit the context, but so far no joy…


    https://owlcation.com/academia/25-Bird-Idioms-Explained-to-English-as-a-Second-Language-Learners
    https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/bird
neilmac
Spain
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 41
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