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In the Bengali language there is an idiom, "sobjanta gamchawala" (wise towelsman), meaning a man whose occupation is merely to sell towels, but claims to know everything and gives valuable advice on any and every topic.

As you can imagine, wise and valuable are used here as sarcasm. In Bengali, the phrase is used to point out a person who always makes a comment on every topic without knowing the context.

Is there is an English idiom or phrase for that?

I'm not looking for jack of all trades is a master of none. A jack of all trades is able to do a lot of things fairly well, but sobjanta gamchawala isn't.

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Smarty pants is a similar characterstics to the answer your question poses,but it has a HUGE difference. –  Argot Jan 20 at 10:43

5 Answers 5

up vote 19 down vote accepted

In English, we have the infamous know-it-all: one who knows everything; hence, a person who makes pretension to great knowledge, especially one whose didactic conversational habit conspicuously reveals his belief that he has superior knowledge on many subjects; a wiseacre; a know-all; -- usually ironical. [Colloq. & pejorative] Note: the use of this term implies that the speaker disapproves of this behavior, and may think that it is unjustified.

**know all: someone who seems to know everything and annoys other people by showing how clever they are.

No one likes him because he's such a know-all.

smarty-pants is an older idiom, for one who is obnoxiously self-assertive and arrogant, as is weisenheimer.

There is the Jerkass, who might say something like, "Sometimes I park in handicapped spaces while handicapped people make handicapped faces. I'm an asshole!" (— Denis Leary, Asshole) but this is more trope or jargon.

And, as StoneyB has kindly reminded me, there is the loudmouth:

Be loquacious, often noisily or boastfully; someone who talks too much or too loudly, esp. in an offensive or stupid way

*Harvard Square: Know-it-all capital of the universe. * - Universal Hub.

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+1. Also "loudmouth". –  StoneyB Jan 5 at 0:45
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I think "know it all" / "know all" come closest to the flavour of the Bengali, though not perfect. But if you're going to include terms like "smarty pants" and "loudmouth" then you absolutely have to also cover "smartarse" / "smartass". –  hippietrail Jan 5 at 1:51
    
And further to my last coment there's also: wiseacre (mentioned in a quote but not actually suggested yet), smart aleck, and wise-guy. –  hippietrail Jan 5 at 2:52
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For those case where "know-it-all" isn't emphatic enough, there's always "fing know-it-all". My friend once called me a "knowing f-it-all"; I've cherished it ever since. –  MT_Head Jan 5 at 6:20
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Actually I get Mr. know-it-all before asking the question, but it was too obvious so I didn't take that. Smarty pants is what i'm looking for, I will use that. –  Anirban Nag Jan 5 at 10:21

You simply seem to mean "Half knowledge" .. http://lighthouseinsights.in/economic-times-against-half-knowledge-campaign.html (highly recommended link to understand half knowledge)

Half knowledge is worse than ignorance. -- Thomas B. Macaulay.

Smarty pants(someone who always tries to prove he is smarter than other people in a annoying way), loquacious / loud mouthed (who speaks too much) is not what you mean ,they are quite similar characteristics but have a huge difference.

Another phrase I guess would be "half-baked"-:

insufficiently thought out , ill conceived (informal) (Source: free dictionary). You can use"half baked knowledge".

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Wait on the link, it will redirect to a better link. –  Argot Jan 18 at 18:01

If the towelsman's views are very right-wing then, to a Briton, this sounds exactly like the stereotypical London taxi driver. Pity the poor passenger who has to nod quietly in agreement as the driver explains what's wrong with Britain's criminal justice system (not enough hangings), immigration policy (too many migrants), and welfare system (far too generous).

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Those stereotypical complaints remind me of the Daily Mail's stories too! (BTW not enough hangings, seems to imply that hangings are performed in the UK, which they're not) –  Mari-Lou A Jan 5 at 6:10
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Where do you think they get their ideas from? –  Pitarou Jan 5 at 6:16
    
As the question was asking for a common phrase/idiom, I don't think this answers it. I'm sure that if you used the phrase "taxi driver" to mean this, without any additional context, nobody would know what you meant. –  Aaronaught Jan 5 at 14:43

In Eastern European Jewish tradition (carried over into American Jewish culture) there are stories of the Wise Men of Chelm, a mythical town populated by fools. The inhabitants were renowned for their clever advice, none of which made sense. For example:

A man dug a well, but didn't know what to do with the dirt from the hole. He cleverly decided to dig another hole and dumped the dirt in. But now he had a new pile of dirt.

Being wise, he realized if he dug another hole, he would still have the same problem. So he consulted the Wise Men of the village who came up with a brilliant answer: Dig a new hole twice as large.

There is a similar English tradition of Gotham, which was also populated by wise men.

Washington Irving is credited with attaching the term Gotham to New York City based on the obvious wisdom of its inhabitants.

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Before I can up vote, are you from NYC? –  Kris Jan 5 at 7:18
    
@Kris Originally Long Island, 40 years in NYC and now back to LI. Why? –  bib Jan 5 at 15:25
    
The pun has been lost, nevermind. –  Kris Jan 6 at 5:27
    
@Kris I am too wise to fall for that!!! –  bib Jan 6 at 13:52

I cannot call any fixed phrase to mind, but the role is familiar in American literature. In small towns it is traditionally associated with the barber or hairdresser, and in big cities with the cabdriver—no doubt because in their professions they have captive audiences.

The bartender is a related figure, but tends to be seen rather as a source of genuine wisdom, albeit of a dark and sardonic cast.

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+1 for taxi drivers, as this is the (rather unfair) stereotype. Matthew Collings's review of John Carey's 'What Good are the Arts?' as "taxi driver bollocks" always stuck in my mind, especially as Carey's publishers saw fit to print it on the back cover. –  Ergwun Jan 5 at 4:56

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