Best Albanian expressions

Part 1: Words of wisdom (Fjalë të urta)

Cover images: Prints by Coco de Paris

I find the specific expressions of each different country fascinating, no less for their humor - the inherent kind but also the kind of humor caused by their literal translations - than the fact that they so simply grasp the culture, mindset, spirit of an entire nation. There's no gray areas and not much room for interpretation.

While some sayings are universally true, some are country-specific.  In many ways, these expressions are  "the black and white", "the concentrated essence", and "the grander scheme" of a country. Their level of accepted truth naturally comes from surviving years of changes but also from their briefness. "Pak e saktë" we like to say: "Little [is] accurate"

Qingji i butë thithë dy nana
Translation: The gentle lamb feeds off two mothers
Meaning: Good behavior opens more doors; kindness is appreciated

Nuk ngopet ariu me miza
Translation: The bear can never have enough flies
Meaning: People strive for small and petty objectives/possession instead of bigger, more meaningful ones

Me thuaj c’shokë ke, te të them se cili je
Translation: Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are
Meaning: You are a reflection of your social circle; the most accurate way of knowing who someone is, is through an analysis of their friends

I talluri, të tall
Translation: He who’s made fun of will make fun
Meaning: A domino effect of the victimized; he who has suffered likes ot make others suffer in order to make them equal

Gurë gurë bëhet kalaja
Translation: Stone after stone, the castle is built
Meaning: Great things are accomplished step by step

Dita e mirë shihet që në mengjes
Translation: One can tell whether a day will be nice from the morning [sun]
Meaning: It is clear from the very start how things/events/situations will go

Dardha bie nën dardhë
Translation: The pear falls under the pear [tree]
Meaning: The apple falls under the tree (but Albanians like to use pears in their sayings); like father, like son

Dardha e ka bishtin mbrapa
Translation: The pear’s stem is in the back
Meaning: You don’t know what’s coming; You should not enjoy things prematurely; Things look better than they are

Gjella me kripë dhe kripa me karar
Translation: The dish with salt, and salt with moderation
Meaning: Good things are best enjoyed in moderation, neither without the tasty part, nor with too much of it

Gjuha vete aty ku dhëmb dhëmbi
Translation: The tongue goes where the tooth hurts
Meaning: You cannot take your mind off what you must deal with; You cannot stop thinking about what truly preoccupies you

Më mirë një vezë sot, sesa nje pulë mot
Translation: Better the egg today than the chicken next year
Meaning: It’s better to enjoy the moment than dreaming about the future; One should survive/go through the day, rather than have great aspirations for the future

S’mbahen dy kunguj nën një sqetull
Translation: One cannot keep two pumpkins under one arm[pit]
Meaning: Don’t bite more than you chew; don’t try to do too many things at once [it won’t work]

Koka bën, koka pëson 
Translation: The head does, the head suffers
Meaning: You will suffer the consequences of your actions

More expressions in the coming weeks: Compliments, offenses, and ironies; Daily Expressions; The vulgar ones