A Translation for a Rainy Day

They say that rain on your wedding day means good luck, but does the saying hold true if the newlyweds are a pair of monkeys or wolves? It may seem like an odd image it’s one that pops up independently in one form or another in dozens of languages. Wolves, foxes, tigers and even elves all getting married in the rain all used to describe the same natural phenomenon: when it rains and the sun is shining.

In Italian felines get frisky (Piove e c’è il sole, la gatta fa l’amore). In Tanzania, Swahili speakers talk about lionesses giving birth (Simba anazaa) while in El Salvador they’re more likely to say the new mother is a deer. In South Africa, Anglophones and Zulu speakers will agree that Monkeys are getting married, while Mazandarani speakers will say it’s a jackal and in Punjabi one might be inclined to point out that it is specifically the one-eyed jackal saying vows that day.

There are enough colorful expressions for what Americans call a sun shower to fill at least a zoo and more than a few bridal registries but whatever you say when you pull out your umbrella and slip on your shades, it’s sure to be a bright example of how creative and fanciful language can be and the treasure trove of characters and images stored in translation.