In native English people say "Speak of the devil and he doth appear" when someone walks in unexpectedly when they are speaking about him oblivion to his appearance in a short while. But the same thing is said differently in India. We Indians take it in a positive way. We say "Let God bless him with 100 years of longevity". Why is this difference?

Is there no sentence in English that is used to bless a person instead of just scoffing at him when he arrives?

Your input is highly appreciated thanks.

  • 1
    I suspect it's just different culture and customs, no reason is necessary. According to wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speak_of_the_devil) the same phrase is used in Hindi as well. The only reference to "Let God bless him with 100 years of longevity" I could find on Google is this page :) – Jeffrey Kemp Apr 7 '14 at 7:23
  • "Let ~ bless him with 100 years of longevity" and "speak of the devil" are executed under two different situations and attitudes. – Blessed Geek Apr 7 '14 at 7:25
  • Yeah you are right. It's there in Hindi as well. But my mother tongue is "Kannada". Look at "Kannada". And I beg to differ with Blessed Geek. They are executed under the same context. My question is 'why is there a difference? Devil and God are like antonyms! – Mighty Apr 7 '14 at 7:35
  • You might be interested in this question about god vs devil in sayings. – Matt E. Эллен Apr 7 '14 at 10:39
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about cultural differences (or possibly a misunderstanding). – Tim Lymington supports Monica Apr 7 '14 at 12:22

This is not a complete answer as I know nothing about Hindi. But so far as English is concerned this is relevant:

The Wiki entry explains all:

"Speak of the devil" is the short form of the idiom "Speak of the devil and he doth appear" (or its alternative form "speak of the devil and he shall appear."). It is used when an object of discussion unexpectedly becomes present during the conversation. It can also be used about a topic that quickly becomes relevant, such as the onset of rain or a car breaking down. Used in this sense it can be seen as an alternative to the phrase "tempting fate".

Deriving from the Middle Ages, this proverb (which was, and to a certain extent still is, rendered as "Talk of the Devil...") was a superstitious prohibition against speaking directly of the Devil or of evil in general, which was considered to incite that party to appear, generally with unfortunate consequences. Its first printed usage in modern English can be found in Giovanni Torriano's Piazza Universale (1666), as "The English say, Talk of the Devil, and he's presently at your elbow."

The phrase lost its overt message during the 19th century, during which it became a warning against eavesdroppers ("No good of himself does a listener hear,/Speak of the devil he's sure to appear"), and by the 20th century had taken on its present meaning.

However the OED quotes a reference prior to 1666 !

l. speak or talk of the devil, and he will appear . Freq. shortened to talk of the devil; esp. used in reference to a person who appears unexpectedly when one is talking about him.

[1591 J. Lyly Endimion i. iii. 3, O that we had Sir Tophas..in the midst of our myrth, & ecce autem, wyl you see the deuill?]

1666 G. Torriano Proverbial Phrases 134/2 in Piazza Universale,
The English say, Talk of the Devil, and he's presently at your elbow.

1672 Cataplus, a mock Poem 72 in W. C. Hazlitt Eng. Prov. & Phr.,
Talk of the Devil, and see his horns.

a1721 M. Prior Hans Carvel 71 Forthwith the Devil did appear, For name him and he's always near.

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