A SHORT LIST OF TURKISH PROVERBS... My notes toward a modest compilation of Turkish proverbs. Mütevazı bir Türk atasözleri derlemesine yönelik notlarım. 08. "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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My notes toward a modest compilation of Turkish Proverbs

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08: İğneyi -- Karga yavrusuna

turkish proverb106  İğneyi (önce) kendine batır, (sonra) çuvaldızı başkasına.  transl: Stick a needle into yourself before thrusting the packing-needle into others.  meaning: At first sight, this proverb would seem to mean, "Do not be hurtful to others; first try a little of that pain on yourself." However, the connotation is, "You yourself  are no better (in fact, worse) than me or the others." Thus, it is also frequently used in a similar sense to "Tencere dibin kara, seninki benden kara," (The pot calls the kettle black).

turkish proverb107  İki cambaz bir ipte oynamaz.  transl: Two tightrope walkers do not perform (= refrain from performing) on the same rope.  i.e. When their knowhow, craftiness or cunning match one another's, people would rather (or had better) not
share the same arena. [This may also be used as a warning to a bidding opponent.]

turkish proverb108  İki cami arasında beynamaz. (or, bînamaz)  transl: Hesitating in between two mosques, one ends up missing the prayer-time.  equiv: Between two stools you fall to the ground. [This proverb is used when people get stuck in inactivity through uncertainty and indecision.]

turkish proverb109  İki gönül bir olunca, samanlık seyran olur.  transl: For two hearts united, a barnhouse becomes a stately mansion.  meaning: Lack of material wealth is no hidrance to happiness when two people are in love with one another.  (The word "seyran", ordinarily implies "visual appreciation" or "a place where the pleasure drawn from viewing attains the utmost".)

turkish proverb110  İmam osurursa cemaat sıçar.  verbatim: If the imam farts, the congregation will poop.  meaning: A leader is a model for his people. Any immoral, illegitimate or illegal deed by him will lead to others follow suit in an amplified way. This proverb is also quite akin to, "Balık baştan kokar." = "The fish always stinks from the head downwards." [Warning: Both "osur-mak" and "sıç-mak" are extremely rude words -- the second being more so -- and both must be avoided in polite conversation of any sort.] [Several sites mention a supposed variation of this proverb as "İmam gülerse cemaat kahkaha atar." = "Let the imam laugh a little and the congregation will break into uproarious laughter." There is no such Turkish proverb.]

turkish proverb111  İnsan beşer, bazen şaşar.  transl: Man by his very nature errs and deviates at times. [Similar to "Hatasız kul olmaz."]  equiv: To err is human. / Nobody is perfect. / Even the best steed sometimes stumbles.

turkish proverb112  İşleyen demir ışıldar. [= İşleyen demir pas tutmaz.] transl. The iron object that is kept working is always shiny; it never rusts.  meaning: Work and activity are the essence of life. Idleness and laziness lead to wreck and ruin.

turkish proverb113  İti an, çomağı hazırla.  similar to: Talk of the devil and you see his hoofs. meaning: Utter the name of the dog and (you'd better) keep a stick (= club) handy. [it = 1. (coarse) a dog; 2. hoodlum, rascal, ruffian...] [However, the Turkish proverb has no religious connotation. It is mainly used when you have been talking about an unpleasant person and he suddenly happens to come along. Such an occasion is the opposite of the one in which you have been saying positive things about a person. Then, the saying -- which is addressed to the person himself -- becomes "İyi insan lâfının üstüne gelirmiş." = "It is said that a good man comes along upon being mentioned."]

turkish proverb114  İt ulur, birbirini bulur. (coarse) (or, Hacı hacıyı Mekke'de domuz domuzu suvatta tanır.)  equiv: Birds of a feather flock together.

turkish proverb115  İt ürür, kervan yürür.  transl: (No matter how much) The dogs bark, the caravan keeps on (= keeps on making way).  meaning: Just take no notice of those who criticise (often hitting below the belt), slander and try to hinder you on your planned course; things will work out just the same despite their efforts.

turkish proverb116  İyi başlamak bitirmenin yarısıdır.  quiv: A good beginning is half the battle.

turkish proverb117  İyi dost kara günde belli olur.  transl: A good friend [i.e., whether a person is a good friend or not] becomes manifest on a black (= ruinous, catastrophic) day. equiv: A friend in need is a friend indeed.

turkish proverb118   İyilik yap denize at, balık bilmezse Hâlik bilir.  transl: Do good [onto others] and throw it into the sea; fish might not, but God will appreciate it.  meaning: Do not stop to think whether your helping hand will be appreciated or thanked for by the recipient (with a strong implication that it will not be); however, it will not go unnoticed by God.

turkish proverb119  Karga kekliği taklit edeyim derken, kendi yürüyüşünü unutmuş.  transl: The crow trying to imitate the partridge forgot its own gait.  meaning: Be yourself and act yourself. Envying other people and trying to live and do things like them, you only cause harm to yourself (most probably bringing derision and ridicule upon yourself.)

turkish proverb120  Karga yavrusuna bakmış, "Benim ak pâk evladım," demiş.  transl: The crow beholds her chick and says, "Oh, my whiter than white baby".  equiv: All his geese are swans.

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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