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Reading scripture in front of a donkey. The country of origin of this proverb is Afghanistan (as far as I know) but we also have exactly the same idiom, identical in meaning, in our native language - the gospel was being read in front of (above the head of) a wolf but he was howling - let me go, the sheep are fleeing!

We use this expression when we want to emphasize that talking to a person (getting through his/her thick skull) is a futile endeavor; it's useless. I had been talking about the dangers of tobacco to him for an hour or so, when he took out a pack of cigarettes and started smoking.

I would like to know whether there is an equivalent expression in English, germane to the above-mentioned one?

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, Mari-Lou A, Bread, FumbleFingers, jimm101 Apr 3 '18 at 23:41

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • What is 'our native language'? Which gospel (chapter and verse) are you referring to? – Mitch Mar 31 '18 at 19:56
  • My native language is Georgian, we`re Orthodox Christians and Afghans are Muslims, as you may know. In my understanding, in both cases, as to scripture or gospel, either one is used as an equivalent of an edifying book, which possesses the most important moral qualities and values. They do not refer to any particular verse or chapter. – Beqa Mar 31 '18 at 20:19
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You may find your answer in the link given in the comment section by Edwin Ashworth, but if you like more idioms to consider, then I suggest:

(like) water off a duck's back.

Criticisms of or warnings to a particular person that have no effect on that person. (Cambridge)

  • I've told him that he's heading for trouble, but he doesn't listen - it's just water off a duck's back.

Here is another example from Merriam Webster:

  • He tried to convince her to take the job, but his advice was like water off a duck's back.

Be banging, etc. your head against a brick wall.

To try to do something that is very difficult or impossible to achieve and therefore causes you to feel annoyed. (Cambridge)

  • I keep asking her not to park there but it's like banging your head against a brick wall.
  • Neither or these applies to the OP’s scenario in my opinion. “Water off a duck’s back” is usually used to show that a person is unaffected/undisturbed by something: “This obstacle would deter a lesser man, but to John it was like water off a duck’s back.” – Jim Mar 31 '18 at 21:16
  • What? Compare the example given by the OP "I had been talking about the dangers of tobacco to him for an hour or so, when he took out a pack of cigarettes and started smoking." with the example from Cambridge dictionary; and in my opinion, they are the same. – haha Mar 31 '18 at 21:53
  • As I have already mentioned in my original comment, we use this expression, when we want to underline the fact that one refuses to accept a piece of useful advice and moreover, does exactly the opposite. – Beqa Mar 31 '18 at 22:13
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    @Gio Weren't you warning him about the danger of smoking? I added another example from Merriam Webster. "He tried to convince her to take the job, but his advice was like water off a duck's back." – haha Mar 31 '18 at 23:28
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    I think the OP wants something more apropos to the speaker's frustration ... which this answer notes in its opening sentence. (+1, particularly for the second suggestion) – Lawrence Apr 1 '18 at 0:25
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Talking to a brick wall
thefreedictionary.com

If talking to someone is like talking to a brick wall, the person you are speaking to does not listen: I've tried to discuss my feelings with her, but it's like talking to a brick wall.
Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus

Depending on your needs, the following may be appropriate: "in one ear and out the other."

If you say that something goes in one ear and out the other, you mean that someone pays no attention to it, or forgets about it immediately.
Collins English Dictionary

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