Proverbs, patters and riddles are sayings, which have formed in the folk language. A saying is any concisely written or spoken expression that is especially memorable because of its meaning or style.
A proverb is a brief, simple, and popular saying, or a phrase that gives advice and effectively embodies a commonplace truth based on practical experience or common sense. A proverb may have an allegorical message behind its odd appearance. The reason of popularity is due to its usage in spoken language, as well as in folk literature
Armenian proverbs are metaphorical creation, the very meaning of which is expressed in an indirect, symbolic, mediated manner (“The chicken will lay eggs, the kennel will carry”), while the saying is a direct manifestation of reality (“The law for the rich, the punishment for the poor”).
Proverbs often originate from fables, becoming the formulated generalization of their moral meaning.
Riddle is one of the oldest types of Armenian folklore and literature, evidenced by literary development in the V and later centuries, it’s prose, short formula composed of one or more verses in the verse.
A riddle is a statement or question or phrase having a double or veiled meaning, put forth as a puzzle to be solved. Riddles are of two types: enigmas, which are problems generally expressed in metaphorical or allegorical language that require ingenuity and careful thinking for their solution, and conundra, which are questions relying for their effects on punning in either the question or the answer.
The composition consists of two interconnecting parts: the theory of the conjecture and the conundrum of the problem.
In the ancient times, they were widely used as a means of testing one’s mental maturity and ingenuity, and became a instrument to recognition of the world. Later they turned into exercise, and nowadays, into children’s entertainment.
The riddles have preserved many ancient mythological notions, reminiscences of everyday economic, realities, in which they acquire important historical and cultural value.
Patter is a prepared and practiced speech that is designed to produce a desired response from its audience. The stable formulaic forms of Armenian folklore include soundtracks built on phonemes, puzzles that are understandable for children, games (often dialogical), adjectives, threats, memories, and expressions.
Translated by Mariam Ispiryan
Some of Armenian proverbs
The guest is the ass of the inn-keeper.
If you speak too much, you will learn too little.
Thunder clouds do not always give rain.
He who begs is shameless, but still more shameless is he who lends not to him.
The friend who helps me and the enemy who does me no harm, make a pair of earrings.
Advice is a free gift that can become expensive for the one who gets it.
One wit is good; two wits are better.
Ashamed of what she sees in the daytime the sun sets with a blush.
The wound of a dagger heals, but that of the tongue, never.
The red cow won’t change his hide.
On a rainy day many offer to water the chickens.
Far from the eye, far from the heart.
All riches come from the earth.
The end of strife is repentance.
God turns away his face from a shameless man.
The blind have no higher wish than to have two eyes.
One bad deed begets another.
If bread tastes good, it is all one to me whether a Jew or a Turk bakes it.
A drowning man will clutch at straws.
The voice of the people is louder than the boom of a canon.
He who looks for a friend without a fault will never find one.
The poor understand the troubles of the poor.
To be willing is only half the job.
Dogs that fight each other will join forces against the wolf.
It is better to carry stones with a wise man than accept the meal of a madman.
The rose of winter-time is fire.
Water is sure to find its way.
When you are going in, consider first how you are coming out.
Quiet horses kick the hardest.
The eyes would not disagree even if the nose were not between them.
You cannot put a fire out with spit.
Begin with small things, that you may achieve great.
Make friends with a dog, but keep a stick in your hand.
He who speaks a lot learns little.
Clouds that thunder do not always rain.
The tongue of the fool is always long.
The world is a pair of stairs: some go up and others go down.
A devil with experience is better than an angel without.
I know many songs, but I cannot sing.
Only a bearded man can laugh at a beardless face.
He who has money has no sense; and he who has sense, no money.
A woman is like the moon-some nights it is silver others gold.
A mule can swim seven different strokes but the moment he sees the water he forgets them all.
A girl with a golden cradle doesn’t remain long in her father’s house.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
When a tree falls there is plenty of kindling wood.
Before the fat one slims, the slim one will die.
When the thief has stolen from a thief, God laughs in heaven.
If a rich man dies, all the world is moved; if a poor man dies, nobody knows it.
Even if the nightingale is in a gold cage, she still dreams of returning to the forest.
The wolf is upset about what he left behind, and the shepherd is upset about what he took away.
Tears have meaning but only he who sheds them understands.
He that asks knows one shame; he that doesn’t knows two.
What does the blind care if candles are dear?
Give a horse to the one who likes the truth so that on it he can escape.
Dine with a friend but do not do business with him.
One should not feel hurt at the kick of an ass.
Friendship is not born of words alone.
No one will give a pauper bread, but everybody will give him advice.
A calf is not found under an ox.
From the same flower the serpent draws poison and the bees honey.
To ask a favor from a miser is like trying to make a hole in water.
A small cloud can hide the sun and the moon.
A king must be worthy of a crown.
If a brother was really good for anything, God would have one.
Unless the child cries, the mother will not suckle it.
Men have three ears: one on the left of the head, one on the right of the head, and one in the heart.
To pick up in a clumsy way is stealing, to steal in a skillful way is to pick up.
Which of the five fingers can you cut off without hurting yourself?
Until you see trouble you will never know joy.
He who steals an egg will steal a horse also.
He who cannot pray at home will celebrate mass somewhere else.
Love ever so well, there is also hate; hate ever so much, there is always love.
The more you stone a dog the more he barks.
What is play to the cat is death to the mouse.
Take up a stick, and the thieving dog understands.
When the cart breaks down, advice is plentiful.
The water in which one drowns is always an ocean.
He sleeps for himself and dreams for others.
You are as many a person as languages you know.
Better to be an ant’s head than a lion’s tail.
Birds are caught with seed, men with money.
A pain in the foot is soon forgotten — a pain in the head is not.
At home the dog is very brave.
Stand away from dwarfs, for it’s God who hit them on the head.
He’s looking for the donkey while sitting on it.
How can one start a fast with baklava in one’s hand.
When a man sees that the water does not follow him, he follows the water.
Let it be late, let it be good.