DER YIDDISH-VINKL April 28, 2006


Published April 28, 2006, issue of April 28, 2006.
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Every culture has its proverbs, bits of folk wisdom helpful in times of sorrow or joy, fear or hope, frustration or epiphany. In 1997, Yiddishist Fred Kogos put together a collection of proverbs in a book titled “The Dictionary of Popular Yiddish Words, Phrases and Proverbs” (Carol Publishing Group).

What follows are a few selections from Kogos’s masterpiece.

A faynt darf men zikh koyfn, sonim krigt men umzist.

You may have to buy a friend, but enemies come free.

A gast iz vi regn: Az er doyert tsu lang vert er a last.

A guest is like rain: If he stays too long he becomes a pest.

A dank ken men nit in keshene leygn.

You can’t put a “thank you” in your pocket.

A farshporer iz beser vi a fardiner.

One who saves is better than one who earns.

A gutn vet der shenk nit kalye makhn; un a shlekhtn vet der beys-hamedresh nit farikhtn.

A good man will not be corrupted by the taverns; and a bad man cannot be reformed by the synagogue.

A kluger farshteyt fun eyn vort tsvey.

A wise man hears one word and understands two.

A ligner darf hobn a gutn zikorn.

A liar needs to have a good memory.

A ligner redt zikh zayne lign azoy lang eyn biz er gleybt zey aleyn.

A liar tells his own story so many times that he gets to believe it himself.

A mol iz der refue erger fun der make.

Sometimes the remedy is worse than the ailment.

A sakh mentshn zeyen, nor veynik fun zey farshteyen.

Many people see, but few understand.

A vaybele iz a taybele un a tayvele.

A wife is a dove and a devil.

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