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The Portuguese seems to say "[a] lie has short legs", and with the English "lies don't travel far", it makes me think that it's saying that once a lie is said, it won't go very far. I think however, it means something closer to "lying will get you nowhere" or something similar. Thoughts?
Right, this is a better one I believe, "lies have short legs but runs faster than the truth".
Yeah, but it's not the same motion. Lies will get you nowhere means that YOU won't get ahead in life, by lying. The focus is on the liar, not the lie. It's prescriptive: Don't lie.
Lies don't travel far means that the LIE won't get far before the truth catches up. The focus is on the lie, and on the person or thing lied about, not the liar. It's meant to be comforting, I suppose, to anyone hurt by the lie.
If someone said to me in English, "lies have short legs", I would simply understand that to mean that lying won't get me very far; it is only a short-term solution. Is that the thought that the native Brazilian is conveying? If so, then I would think that "lying won't get you far" should be an accepted translation.
No, it's not exactly the same meaning. We mean that the lie doesn't last and it eventually gets revealed... so it is not talking about how the liar, but the lie itself. It's not saying "don't be a liar because you'll get into trouble/not succeed", but more like "if you tell lies, they won't last long". Does that make sense? =]
I think this is particularly vexing because I see "lies don't travel far" and I think that's the opposite of reality: lies do travel far, they get around very fast! The sense of lies getting revealed soon doesn't really come across her. I like "lies won't get you far" better because it carries the sense of movement like the Portuguese. Or perhaps something like "the truth will catch up with you"
That was my first thought. I can't think of an equivalent English idiom, in fact all the English ones I can think of mean the opposite of lies don't travel far, suggesting we have less faith in the truth emerging than other cultures (although I don't think that's true).
"lies don't travel far" seems like a lie to me. In my experience lies travel faster than anything else (except maybe light!). My parents often used the expression "your sins will find you out!' meaning that if you lied or did anything wrong, it wouldn't be long before it would be discovered, and you wouldn't get very far that way.
Unfortunately there's no English equivalent idiom - most of our idioms about lies say the opposite! "A lie gets half way around the world before the truth has got its boots on." I agree that "the truth will out" is the closest in intent to this saying, perhaps it should be added?