Главная страница «Первого сентября»Главная страница журнала «Английский язык»Содержание №13/2008

English Weather Proverbs and Sayings

Did you take an umbrella with you today? Haven’t you heard the weather forecast? If you live in Great Britain you should do it almost every day. Why? The weather in Great Britain is very changeable. The mountains, the Atlantic Ocean and the warm waters of the Gulf Stream influence the climate of this country. It is true that a fine morning can change into a wet afternoon and evening or the reverse.
The English people say: “Other countries have a climate, in England we have weather.” The English also say that they have three variants of weather: when it rains in the morning, when it rains in the afternoon and when it rains all day long. The best time of the year in Great Britain is spring (of course, it rains in spring too). The two worst months in Britain are January and February. They are damp, cold and unpleasant. Summer months are rather cold and there can be a lot of rainy days. Different stories written by English authors include descriptions of that weather. But contrary to popular belief, it does not rain every day in England or in the rest of the UK. However, it is always advisable to bring some type of waterproof clothing.
That’s why there are several rain and wind proverbs and sayings in Great Britain. Here are some of them. I suggest a translation for several of them. You can ask your students to find a literary translation for the rest.
• Rain before seven, fine before eleven (rain before seven, clear by eleven). – Семь пятниц на неделе.
• It never rains but it pours. – Пришла беда, растворяй ворота. (Беда не приходит одна)
• If there were no clouds, we should not enjoy the sun. – Нет худа без добра.
• The wind can't be caught in a net. – Воду в решете носить.
• Any port in a storm. – В любви все средства хороши.
• Hoist your sail when the wind is fair. – Куй железо пока горячо.
• Words are but wind. – Слова – это ветер.
• Vows made in storms are forgotten in calms. – Клятвы, данные в штормовую погоду, забываются в тихую.
• Oaks may fall when reeds withstand the storm. – Мал, да удал.
• A quiet conscience sleeps in thunder. – С чистой совестью и в грозу хорошо спишь.
• Save it for a rainy day. – Отложить на черный день.
• After a storm comes the calm. – После грозы – вёдро, после горя – радость. Слезы – что гроза: потекут, да и обсохнут. Серенькое утро – красненький денек.
• After rain comes fair weather. – Не всё ненастье, будет и красное солнышко.
• The morning sun never lasts a day.
• It is an ill wind that blows no good.
• Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.
• When it rains it rains on all alike.
• When it rains pottage you must hold up your dish.
• Small rain lays great dust.
• A foul morning may turn into a fair day.
• While it is fine weather, mend your sail.
People have been forecasting the weather for centuries. Do you know how to predict it? Long ago, before weather forecasts existed, sailors and shepherds relied on clues from the sky and nature to predict oncoming storms or mild weather. By observing the clouds, sun, moon, plants and animals, they learned to detect and understand atmospheric pressure changes that affected weather patterns.
In this modern age, we’ve come to rely on television and radio forecasts, and meteorologists with sophisticated equipment for up-to-date weather information. We’ve forgotten the simple methods our ancestors used to assess weather stability, some of which are still relied upon by farmers, sailors, campers, and outdoors people alike. Nowadays, people use different methods and systems for monitoring atmospheric conditions. These are Earth Observing System, Aerospace Technology Enterprise, RB99 forecast system and other. For example, Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) uses the power of computers to make a forecast. Complex computer programs, also known as forecast models, run on supercomputers and provide predictions on many atmospheric variables such as temperature, pressure, wind, and rainfall.
In Great Britain the Government Meteorological Office, The BBC Weather Centre, the National Weather Service and several other weather agencies publish a lot of information every day. It is used by professional forecasters to predict weather conditions even for the local neighborhood. But how was it two or three centuries ago? Have you ever thought of it? One of the traditional ways of forecasting the weather used pine cones and seaweed. When the air has a high level of humidity there is a higher chance of rain, when the humidity is low, there is more chance of fine weather. Pine cones and seaweed react to changes in humidity – pines cones open, and seaweed feels dry when the humidity is low, while high humidity has the opposite effect.
Another way is to observe animals. They are more likely to react to changes in air pressure than we are. Even grass may help us. Check it for dew at sunrise. If the grass is dry, this indicates clouds or strong breezes, which can mean rain. If there’s dew, it probably won’t rain that day.
However, if it rained during the night, this method will not be reliable. Pay attention to the appearance of the sun and moon to predict oncoming weather. Look for these indicators: if the moon is bright and sharply-focused, it means rain is coming soon; a ring around the sun or moon is a prediction of rain or snow within three days; if you can see the dark part of a crescent moon, this means nice weather over the next one to two days; a red moon usually indicates rain, and if very large, within half a day.
While folk wisdom can still provide a guide to help forecast weather, today’s methods of prediction increasingly rely on technology. Satellites, balloons, ships, aircraft and weather centers with sensitive monitoring equipment, send data to computers. The data is then processed, and the weather forcast. However, even this system cannot predict weather for longer than about a week. Ken Ring, an English writer,thinks that the Moon helped people forecast because it causes weather.
Of course people used different information and made their notes which are called weather proverbs now. Such expressions are usually based on someone’s observations and not on scientific studies. Because climates and weather patterns differ throughout the world, a weather proverb based on observations in one location may not be valid in another location. Some proverbs arose simply from coincidence, not weather patterns, and therefore may seldom hold true. But under certain circumstances, some proverbs do hold up to science. There are over 600 folk sayings and weather proverbs will help us to predict the weather. Most of them are quite modern, but here are some of the oldest.
• Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning (shepherds).
• Mare’s tails and mackerel scales make tall ships take in their sails.
• Clear moon, frost soon.
• Clouds going in different directions – bad weather coming, probably hail
• A year of snow, a year of plenty.
• Ash leaf before the oak, then we will have a summer soak; Oak leaf before the ash, the summer comes without a splash.
• Flies will swarm before a storm.
• Halo around the sun or moon, rain or snow coming soon.
• Rainbow in the morning gives you fair warning.
• When the stars begin to huddle, the earth will soon become a puddle.
• Geese fly higher in fair weather than in foul.
• The higher the clouds, the better the weather.
• Sun or moon halos indicate a coming rain: the larger the halo, the nearer the precipitation.
• When smoke descends, good weather ends.

We are affected by the weather – whether we are teachers, pilots, sailors, sportsmen or even if we just go to work. Our plans or our life can be at stake, based on the observations we can make about ever-changing weather patterns.
These proverbs and sayings helped the English people in predicting weather. Maybe they can be used nowadays. Ask your students what they think.
In spite of being a fifth-year-student, I have been teaching English at school for three years. Such information can be hardly found in English textbooks for Russia. The subject “Weather” is studied almost at every level, but teaching it, we do not mention different weather proverbs and sayings and different methods of predicting. That is why I decided to introduce this material. I really hope that it will be useful for teachers and students who want to learn English with success.

By Ekaterina Karamova ,
Fifth-year-student, Faculty of Computer Science
Chelyabinsk State Pedagogical University