leopard tree

karishkirdi kancha baksang dele tokoigo kachat (Kyrgyz) no matter how well you feed a wolf it always looks at the forest

gorbatogo mogila ispravit (Russian) only the grave will cure the hunchback

chassez le naturel, il revient au gallop (French) chase away the natural and it returns at a gallop

aus einem Ackergaul kann man kein Rennpferd machen (Swabian German) you cannot turn a farm horse into a racehorse

dhanab al kalb a ‘waj walaw hattaytu fi khamsin galib (Arabic) the dog’s tail remains crooked even if it’s put in fifty moulds

vuk dlaku mijenja ali æud nikada (Croatian) a wolf changes his coat but not his attitude

die katze lässt das mausen nicht (German) the cat will not abandon its habit of chasing mice

chi nasce quadrato non muore tondo (Italian) if you are born square you don’t die round

Adam Jacot de Boinod is the author of The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from around the World, published by Penguin Books, and the creator of the iPhone App Tingo, a quiz on Interesting Words.

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