July 05, 2007

Vacuum vas altius pleno vaso resonat

In English: An empty pot makes a deeper noise than a pot that is full.

After yesterday's saying about the scientific "vacuum," I thought I would do another Latin proverb built on the word vacuum, "empty." Hence the choice for today! You can also find the saying in this variant form: Vasa vacua multum sonant, "Empty pots make a lot of noise!"

In addition, you can find this as an English saying also: "Empty vessels make the most noise" - and to see how commonly used this saying is in English even today, just check out these Google search results.

This is one of my favorite kinds of proverbs - it takes a simple, obvious event in the natural world and then suggests that you take that notion and apply it metaphorically to human life.

So yes, if you bang on an empty pot, it makes a lot of noise, while a full pot is silent. Agreed!

How then to apply that to human life? Well, empty-headed people often are great talkers, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." A person who is full of wisdom, however, knows better than to blather and prefers to keep silent.

The "truth" of the physical phenomenon (an empty pot really does make a lot of noise!) is thus meant to be a kind of proof of the metaphorical application, too. It's not scientific proof by any means, and it's not even necessarily logical - but that's the way that the world of proverbs works! Similarity is as good as a proof.

Meanwhile, hoping you have not been banging into too many pots lately, here is today's proverb read out loud:

1183. Vacuum vas altius pleno vaso resonat.

The number here is the number for this proverb in Latin Via Proverbs: 4000 Proverbs, Mottoes and Sayings for Students of Latin.

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