The tongue of the fool is always long
ahnhounahr mahrtee lehzoun yehrgahr guhleenee
Our home will be trashed by letting crazies in to crash
mehr dounuh pohs, ouhr vohr khehnt gah hohss
A good home will be disrupted by letting crazy people live there. In fact, any endeavor will be
disturbed by the involvement of crazy people. Crazy people can be extended to include anyone who acts irresponsibly.
The powerful flood waters swept away the entire watermill. Yet, he (the fool) is looking for the door knob of the watermill.
chaghatzkuh hohrtzahnkuh dahrehr eh, chaghchaghuh guh puhnduhreh
chaghatz means the watermill which was a good sized building for grinding grain. The stone grinder was powered by a water wheel or turbine with a mechanical process.
chaghchagh means a door knob or a hammer-like iron door knocker.
This is a classical humorous Armenian saying. The entire watermill was swept away indicating a very expensive loss of an essential grain grinding facility. Yet, a foolish person is looking for the iron door knob of the windmill.Looking for the door knob of the valuable windmill rather than thinking about finding the windmill shows the pettiness of the seeker’s mind. Instead of looking for something of value, he seeks an object of little worth.
There is a story about a rich man who earned his wealth by regularly purchasing shares of Calcutta Steel Corporation over a long period. As he approached his death, he was surround by his family members. His four sons were at his bedside on a Friday night. The large extended family was praying for his recovery.
Suddenly, the rich man motioned slightly that he wanted to speak. His sons raised him gently and everyone perched their heads to hear what would perhaps be his last words. In a soft voice the rich man said, “Monday morning buy Calcutta Steel shares.” He died right after uttering his last words.
Obviously, the dying rich man’s consciousness was more concerned with the temporary gain on the stock market than saving his own soul at the time of death. Instead of thinking about God, he was focused on Calcutta Steel Stock. This is a sad testimony about how so many people waste their lives thinking about mundane things that have little value. The eternal soul is the precious asset a human being has. It is the source of his consciousness by which he perceives and understands the universe. If he wastes his time seeking a door knob instead of the watermill, he becomes a pathetic example of a person who meditates on the chafe but loses sight of the valuable grain.
There are many other examples of Armenian sayings and proverbs that contrast the significant with the ridiculously mundane or something ordinary with the extraordinary or impossible. The following are examples.
hahtzuh kahrehn guh hahneh – he can make bread from a rock – he is an ingenious, hard worker
mehrehluh guh khuhntahtzuheh – he makes a dead man laugh
mahzehruh yehrgaiyn, khelkuh gahrdz, she has long hair and a short brain (implying very little brain)
yehteh khohsgohv peelahv gehpvee, dzohvou chahp youghuh eentzmeh – if you can cook rice with words alone, I’ll donate an ocean of cooking oil (for the task)
He who has never built a house imagines that support columns grow like trees.
ohv dahn chee seenehl gahrdzoum eh souiynehruh pousnohvee yehn
Vardan Aigektzi was a famous Armenian who wrote original fables. One of his fables follows.
The history of mankind can be compared to action of three fools. The first decided to catch the wind. He climbed to the top of a mountain to catch the wind. He tried for a hundred years but wasn’t able to even catch a palm’s worth of wind.
The second was a man of wealth. He employed a large number of servants and a great amount of money. He sat down on the bank of a great river. His aim was to use the waters of the river to inscribe an elegy. He also labored with his servants for a hundred years. But, he was not able to write even one letter on the waters of the river.
The third was determined to prove himself the most prominent of the three. He crafted a huge bow and made sharp arrows. He attempted to shoot at the stars and other heavenly bodies during the night. He wanted to pierce a star and rope it to his home so that he would be the only one to enjoy its cooling light. He was not able to even catch a spark. To make matters worse, during the day he ran after his own shadow with the hope of catching it. But, he never caught up to it although he pursued his own shadow for a hundred years.
Aigektzi illustrates the futility of human endeavor that is directed to foolish pursuits.
We may think that this is a naive fable that really doesn’t pertain to our practical lives. If we consider
our modern life and the many efforts of modern science that we witness, we may find real life parallels to Aigektzi’s fable. One such endeavor is the attempt to go to the Moon and other attempts to explore the vast reaches of space. After nearly fifty years of space exploration, the most man has ventured into space is 220 miles to the international space station. There are claims that man has reached the moon. This may or may not be. Even if man went to the moon, there is no tangible result to show for it in the last 40 years. One thing is certain, many billions of dollars have been spent for such a futile endeavor.
There are other colossal scientific research projects that are just as useless and wasteful of money and resources as the space exploration program. Aigektzi’s fable is as pertinent today as it was in earlier times.
They went toward the odor of the BBQ, but it turned out to be the burial of an ass
khorovadzee hohdee kuhnatzeen, ehss eheen taghghoum
This is a very witty proverb that brilliantly illustrates the dry folk humor of Armenia. The BBQ is one of the favorite pastimes of Armenia. Roasting a dead carcass is a real treat for Armenians. But, in truth, it is a dead carcass being roasted on a fire. Is there any difference between the carcass of a dead ass or the same being being roasted on a charcoal fire? Both have the fetid smell of decaying flesh.
Imagine the surprise! Instead of joining a barbeque, the persons following their nose found the carcass of the decaying ass being placed in a grave.
The fool – uhnkhehlkuh
Blind, deaf man walking across a highway
Sees not danger nor hears the passersby
So the fool who thinks himself wise in all
Ignoring good advice will cause his fall
The intelligent judge
One night a wolf fell into a hole in the ground set as a trap by a hunter. The wolf began to howl,
A sheep came to see what happened. The wolf pleaded with the sheep to help him get free.
“No,” said the sheep, “if I free you, you will eat me.”
“I swear honorably that I will not hurt you at all.”
The sheep believed the wolf and helped him get out of the hole.
When the wolf got out of the trap he said.
“You saved my life from danger. Now you will save me from hunger.”
“But you gave your word of honor not to hurt me,” said the sheep.
“I am a meat eater,” said the wolf. “What else can I do but eat you.”
The sheep understood that there was no way to free itself. Just then, the sheep saw a dog
“Oh wise dog, I beg you to become our judge,” said the sheep.
The dog heard both of their claims and said.
“How can I believe that you both told the truth. You must reinact the events so
that I can see with my own eyes what happened.
The wolf jumped into the trap again and begged the sheep to help him.
“Oh greedy predator, wait until the hunter comes,” said the dog. Both the dog and the sheep went away.
Answer a fool with silence
Himareen badaskanuh loourr muhnal eh
You can’t hold two watermelons with one hand
Mehg tzerkov yerghou tzmerouk chi perrnuhveer
In other words, don’t try to bite off more than you can chew. Being over zealous often leads to foolishness and untenable situations.
Another proverb with the same meaning is – Mehg tzerkov yerghou jhunjughouk chi perrhner. One hand cannot catch two birds.
While blowing his nose he poked out his own eye
Keyntuh sirpeloun bes ahckuh hanetz
The bread of the fool goes into the stomach of the wise man
kheveen hatzuh khellokeen poruh