Circassian Proverbs and Sayings


Amjad Jaimoukha




, . I I. , I I . I I I I, -I I I (300) , I I . . :


There are more than 6,000 proverbs and sayings in the Circassian language, by some accounts much, much more. We will start by a selection of proverbs and sayings associated with hospitality and host-guest relationship. I have collected more than 300 sayings on this issue, which will appear in my forthcoming book Circassian Culture and Folklore, to be published in London and New York this autumn (2008) by Bennett and Bloom (it is already available for pre-order from


I I: A guest is the beloved of the Circassian. [I: I I]


I I : The guest of the Circassian is safe as if protected by a fortress. [I: I I ]


I II ( I I I I , I I ): A guest is a messenger from God.


I I, : If he comes to you as a guest, even the sworn enemy is your friend. [I: I I, ]


I , : If the guest stays for three nights, he becomes part of the family. [I: I , ]


I ( , I I , I): After eating, the guest looks towards the door. [I: I , ]


I: The children of the person who receives many guests never go hungry. [I: I]


I: Said of a wicked woman who does not offer food to guests. [I: I]


I I : (A toast starts and ends a table) A Circassian feast could only start with a toast by the eldest participant, then by the guests, and the affair could last throughout the session, which at times lasted for hours on end. [I: I I ]


, I , I I I, I I I [Other proverbs and sayings]:


, : The nations strength lies in union.


I, I : There is strength in union.


I: Better to die in ones homeland than to thrive without it.


I I ( I , I): 1. More work and less chatter; 2. Doing is better than saying.


I : (Theres a snake lurking in the unstarted business): 1. The first step is the hardest; 2. It is the first step that costs.


I : All is not gold that glitters.


, I: (Think before you speak, look around before you sit down) 1. First think, then speak; 2. Think today and speak tomorrow; 3. Second thoughts are best; 4. Look before you leap; 5. Draw not your bow till your arrow is fixed; 6. Better the foot slip than the tongue trip.


I I: (A fool is ignorant of Circassian Etiquette) 1. As the fool thinks, so the bell clinks; 2. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.


: 1. The tongue is sharper than the sword; 2. The tongue is not steel, yet it cuts; 3. Many words cut (or hurt) more than swords.


I I II: (He who has no oxen, harnesses a calf) 1. Half a loaf is better than no bread; 2. Any port in a sea-storm; 3. If you cant have the best, make the best of what you have; 4. Among the blind the one-eyed man is king; 5. There is small choice in rotten apples.


I II (I , I): Strike while the iron is hot.


I: 1. Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise; 2. He that will thrive, must rise at five; 3. The early bird catches the worm.


I I : 1. Home truths are hard to swallow; 2. Truth hurts.


II II ( II, I): Easy come, easy go.


I, ( I ): Safe bind, safe find.


I II ( I I I): The unborn hare hides in the ungrown bush (said of a barefaced lie).


I, I: Keep friendship and money apart.


I , I I ( I): He works like a badger but eats like a wolf.


II I, I: Easier said than done.


( I): What may be done at any time will be done at no time.


II : 1. A fool may sometimes speak to the purpose; 2. A fools bolt may sometimes hit the mark.


I, , ( I I): (If out of luck, a dog would bite you even on camelback) An unfortunate man would be drowned in a teacup.


II : A sweet talker lures the snake out of the hole.


I ( I I ; ): The coward dreads his own shadow.


, : If you wish for peace, be prepared for war.


II : (Not only scabby, but also has boils) 1. Out of the frying-pan into the fire; 2. To fall out of the pan into the fire; 3. From smoke into smother; 4. It never rains but it pours.


, I: (If you are afraid of bears, dont go into the forest) 1. He that feareth every bush must never go a-birding; 2. He that is afraid of wounds must not come near a battle.


, I: (Even a frog wishes to live in deeper waters) Fish seeks deeper waters, man seeks a better place.


I: He who has not endured hardship knows not what comfort is.


I I : (Happiness and misfortune lie side by side) 1. Every cloud has a silver lining; 2. After rain comes fair weather.


, : (Better a short long way than a long short way) The furthest way about is the nearest way home.


I I (I I ): 1. The cobblers wife is the worst shod; 2. Wilful waste makes woeful want; 3. Waste not want not.


, : One mans meat is another mans poison.


I : (He who digs a hole falls in it) 1. He that mischief hatches, mischief catches; 2. A dose of ones own medicine; 3. Curses like chickens come home to roost.


: The devil knows many things because he is old.


I I I: (Nothing without an end) 1. The morning sun never lasts a day; 2. Alls well that ends well.


: (Todays sparrow is better than tomorrows quail) 1. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, or in the wood; 2. One today is worth two tomorrow; 3. Todays egg is better than tomorrows hen; 4. Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow; 5. A little is better than none; 6. Never quit certainty for hope.


: (He who was bitten by the snake, is frightened by the lasso) 1. Once bitten, twice shy; 2. The scalded cat fears cold water; 3. A burnt child dreads the fire.


: (Pestilence breeds the plague) 1. Evil begets evil; 2. One woe doth tread upon anothers heels.


: 1. Old (Bad) habits die hard; 2. Habit is second nature.


I, , , : Damned if you do and damned if you dont.


, I : (When two know it, its no longer a secret) When three know it, all know it.




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