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Famous Turkish Proverbs

Famous Turkish Proverbs
Every language and culture has developed a treasure trove of interesting and wise proverbs, and Turkish is no exception.

Turkish Proverbs: Poetic

The Turkish language is quite musical, and the Turkish culture extends back thousands of years under various names and configurations. So it’s no surprise that many of the common proverbs you encounter in the language are quite poetic and beautiful. Here’s a great one: Aðaç yas iken eðilir, which means “The green twig is easily bent.” A lovely image, and conveys a strong, easily understood concept. A gem!

Or this one, which is a bit haunting if you ask me: Ateþ düþtüðü yeri yakar, which means “an ember burns where it falls.” Chilling, if you look at it from the right angle. But then you can find comfort in another famous Turkish proverb: Çabuk parlayan çabuk söner - what flares up fast, extinguishes soon. Whew!

Turkish Proverbs: Wisdom

While many proverbs in all cultures are simply common-sense passed down from generation to generation – often about subjects and situations that no longer exist or apply – sometimes proverbs are more general than that, touching on the human condition itself. For example, the lovely and provocative Turkish proverb ýnsan yedisinde ne ise yetmiþinde de odur, which translates to “what a man is at seven is also what he is at seventy.” Is this a commentary on senility? Or on the fundamental nature of man being set at a certain time? You can read it as you wish, which might have been the original intention, after all.

Turkish Proverbs: Universal Concerns

Often you encounter proverbs in other cultures that are incredibly similar to the ones you know from your own world. It’s interesting to see how they are phrased differently. In English we’re all familiar with walk a mile in their shoes or variations thereof. In Turkish you have ýðneyi kendine batýr çuvaldýzý baþkasýna which translates to “stick the needle into yourself before you thrust the packing-needle into others.”

On the other hand, there are mysteries that I imagine I need to be Turkish to understand, like the proverb yenilen pehlivan güreþe doymaz which translates to “a defeated wrestler is not tired of wrestling,” which I confess I don’t think I quite understand. But that’s likely due to my cultural blinders – or perhaps my weak document translation skills!

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