Where there are women there is talk,and where there are geese there is cackling.

Note: We continue last week’s debate about who the real gabbers are, men or women. This week’s proverb obviously posits the contention that it is women who ‘do be’ the gabbers. The point is made bluntly with the metaphor comparing women to cackling geese. The point is also made subtly with the choice of the last word, ‘callán.’ Our translation takes a bit of poetic license to try and capture this nuance of word. The word ‘callán’ does not actually mean ‘cackling.’ In Irish, the word for cackling would be ‘grágaíl,’ or one of its variants; grágadail, grágáil, grágalach, or grágalíocht. ‘Callán’ actually means noise, or more specifically, a clamor of voices. Therefore, whenever there are geese, then are is a clamor of unintelligible voices, just as whenever there are women.

This allegation is not exclusively Irish. There is a similar Italian proverb, “Dove sono donne ed ocche, non vi sono parole poche.” (Wherever there are women and geese, the words are not few.) A Native American proverbs says, “A squaw’s tongue runs faster than the wind’s legs.” The French have a saying, “Foxes are all tail and women are all tongue.” A German proverb says, “Woman never spoiled anything through silence.” A Spanish proverb says, “The nightingale will run out of songs before the woman runs out of conversation.” A Russian proverb says “A woman’s hair is long; her tongue is longer.” There are a number of these misogynic proverbs in English. “Many women, many words.” “A woman’s strength is her tongue.” “Women’s tongues wag like lambs’ tails.” Charles Dickens wrote in the Pickwick Papers “Tongue; well that’s a very good thing when it an’t a woman’s.” “Silence is a fine jewel for a woman, but it is seldom worn.” “A woman’s heart and her tongue are not related.” “A woman’s tongue is the last thing about her that dies.”