ARABIC PROVERBS AND ARABIC HUMOUR
The people of Topsy-turvy Land, like all orientals, are very fond of proverbs and short, bright sayings. You know that even to-day there are men who go about in the coffee shops of Arabia to tell stories, just as you have read in the Arabian Nights. Some of their stories are very interesting and some of their proverbs are wise. Others are not interesting and many of their stories are too bad to repeat. Even some of their proverbs bear the mark of their topsy-turvy religion and are only half true. Judge them for yourself. Here are fifty examples; which do you think is the best proverb among them? Are they all good?
First seek your neighbour, then build your house.
First get a companion, then go on the road.
Whoever dies in a strange land, dies a martyr.
When the judge is oppressive, the very air is, too. Don’t cut your head off with your tongue.
Keep your dog hungry and he will follow you.
Leave off sin, then ask forgiveness.
Every horse knows its rider.
Talk is feminine, but a good answer is masculine.
With little food a bed tastes good.
A trotting dog is better than a sleeping lion.
Every girl is beautiful in her father’s eyes.
His tongue is sweeter than dates but his hands are as hard as sticks.
There is no perfume after the wedding.
Clouds do not fear the barking of dogs.
A bird catches a bird.
Poverty is the mother of deceptions.
The fruit of haste is repentance.
That man is like the Kaaba; he goes nowhere but every one comes to him.
The tongue of a fool is the key to his destruction.
The needle clothes others but is itself naked.
If the owl were game to eat, the gunner would not have passed by the ruined castle.
Happy is the man whose enemy is wise.
Time is stingy of honour.
The best generosity is quick.
If your neighbour is honey, don’t lick him all up.
If you don’t know a man’s parents look at his appearance.
What a strange world if all wool were red!
Fall but don’t bawl.
Your enemy will love you when the ass becomes a doctor.
Wait, donkey, till the grass grows.
A loaned garment is not warm.
He is a hard man; his name is Rock, son of a Cliff.
The oppression of a cat is better than the justice of a rat.
While I was fishing, I was caught.
A blacksmith came to shoe the Pasha’s horse and a frog in the pond stuck out her foot too.
One nettle seed will ruin a garden.
Who speaks the whole truth will get a broken head.
What’s the good of a house without food?
Ask experience but don’t neglect the doctor.