A SHORT LIST OF TURKISH PROVERBS... My notes toward a modest compilation of Turkish proverbs. Mütevazı bir Türk atasözleri derlemesine yönelik notlarım. 01. "A proverb is a traditional saying, which offers advice or presents a moral in a short or pithy manner. As with proverbs of other nations, the Turkish-speaking peoples’ folk philosophy, distinctive regional customs and, above all, the peculiar flavor of their language and phraseology constitute the uniqueness of Turkish proverbs. A close examination of these proverbs reveals observations about men and things, oriental customs and ceremonies, facts of natural history, fragments of poetry, and quaint rhymes, puns, and similes." Nejat Muallimoğlu, The Turkish Delights, A Treasury of Proverbs and Folk Sayings, (New York, 1998).

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Doç.Dr. Yalçınİzbul's [Anthropo-Linguistics]


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My notes toward a modest compilation of Turkish Proverbs

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turkish proverbs - classified

01: Acele -- Aksilik

turkish proverb001  Acele işe şeytan karışır. Haste makes waste. transl: "The deuce gets involved in things hastily done."

turkish proverb002  Acıkan doymam (sanır), susayan kanmam sanır. transl: "A hungry man thinks he will not be satiated, a thirsty man thinks he will not be quenched."

turkish proverb003  Acı patlıcana kırağı çalmaz. transl. "A bitter eggplant is immune to frost." "Frost cannot harm a bitter eggplant." meaning: (usually by way of a wry sort of self-boasting and self-boosting) the person in question is tough and hardened by experience; he is not/cannot be easily harmed; he can easily withstand existing or probable assaults/misfortunes.

turkish proverb004  Aç ayı oynamaz. verbatim: "A hungry bear will not dance." meaning: "One cannot work on an empty stomach." [This is the kind of proverb with which you might even remind the fact to your boss (surely, an asshole or a bitch) if you are plucky enough.]

turkish proverb005  Aç tavuk kendini buğday (or, darı) ambarında görür (or, sanır).  transl: A hungry chicken dreams of herself in a granary. meaning: [Generally used in a tongue-in-cheek way.] 1. In hopeless situations, one indulges in all sorts of wistful imaginings. 2. (less frequently) In one's desperate need, any small entity deludes one into grateful exaggeration.

turkish proverb006  Adama dayanma ölür; duvara dayanma yıkılır. transl: "Do not lean on a man (= be not dependant on another person), for he is mortal; do not lean against a wall, for it is not 'unfallable'."

turkish proverb007   Adamın (or, İnsanın) adı çıkacağına canı çıksın.  transl: Better to die than become notorious. equiv: Give a dog a bad name and hang him. He that has an ill name is half hanged.

turkish proverb008  Adı(mız) çıkmış dokuza, inmez sekize (or, çıkmış beşe, inmez üçe). Give a dog a bad name and hang him. [However, this proverb is not synonymous with "Adamın canı çıkacağına canı çıksın." Here, a certain amount of protest and a curious sort of pride and boasting are involved.]

turkish proverb009  Ağacı kurt, insanı dert yer. transl: It is the worms that (eat up and) destroy a tree; it is his worries that (eat up and) "finish" a man.

turkish proverb010  Ağaç yaş iken eğilir.  meaning: "A tree can only be bent if it is not old and dried up." i.e. You can't teach an old dog new tricks.

turkish proverb011  Ağlamayan çocuğa meme verilmez. A quiet baby gets no suck. It's the creaking wheel that gets the grease.

turkish proverb012  Ahmak adam söz bulamayınca bahse girer. A wager is a fool's argument.

turkish proverb013   Ak akçe kara gün içindir. Save (something) for a rainy day. (Keep, put aside, etc) (That "something" is specified as "money" in the Turkish proverb. Beyond its obvious use as a piece of advice, it is also used as a defense of one's money-saving practice or as self-congratulation if/when a difficult day has arisen proving its worth.)

turkish proverb014  Akılları pazara çıkarmışlar, herkes (yine) kendi aklını beğenmiş. meaning: If brains (=intelligence) were put to sale in the bazaar, everyone would (again) choose his own.

turkish proverb015  Aksilikler hep üst üste gelir. It never rains but pours. Misfortunes never come singly.


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The Turkish word for a proverb, atasozu means "grandfather's sayings," or "words," or "elder's words." "In Turkey no conversation takes place without one or more proverbs being mentioned, and it is amazing to see the influence they have on an audience; as soon as a proverb is recited all heads nod in approval and all arguments cease, a suffering or loss becomes bearable and even death loses its sting, for proverbs embody the crystal truth found by long and painful experience, and even though it may sometimes be bitter, it is an acceptable form." Nejat Muallimoğlu, The Turkish Delights, A Treasury of Proverbs and Folk Sayings, (New York, 1998)

Turkish Proverbs: Doç. Dr. Yalçın İzbul, http://www.ingilizce-ders.com  Notes toward a modest compilation of Turkish proverbs. Türk atasözleri derlemesine yönelik notlarım. 2009