Expressions and Idioms
Taba di mahlong. (The face is the index of the mind.)
Ngwana wa lekgala o tsamaya ka lekeke. (Like father like son.)
Noka e tlatswa ke dinokana. (Great things have small beginnings.)
Sesotho idioms are largely based on the infinitive form (ho ...):
Ho fata kgotso. (To negotiate for peace.)
(Literal translation: To dig for peace.)
Ho ja hloho. (To think.)
(Literal translation: To eat your head.)
Ho tlola molao. (To break the law.)
(Literal translation: To jump the law.)
Sesotho riddles are often presented as a question, while a listener then replies with the answer as the explanation:
Question: Monna e molelele e mosweu?
(A tall white man?)
Anser: Tsela sa baeti.
(A road for travellers)
Question: Maqheku a qabana ka lehaheng?
(Old men quarrelling in a cave?)
Answer: Poone e hadikilweng, ho qoma.
(Roasted maize, to explode.)
Q: Phutse le hara thota?
(A pumpkin in the middle of a field?)
© J. Olivier (2009)