Miles Kington: Those who think Albanian, talk Albanian

How cruel to give a man a clock when he retires. Much kinder to give it him when he joins the company

Albanian proverbs are not particularly helpful at first sight, nor at second sight neither. They are more like poetic shrugs of the shoulder, or sighs made verbal.

Still, they do tend to linger in the mind, and it's better to have a nice taste in the mouth than go hungry (as the Albanian proverb has it.)

See what you think...

Everyone knows a man called Buster. But who knows two men called Buster?

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Nobody is obliged to have an opinion about Matisse.

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If we like someone, we call him Jack. If we don't, we call him a knave. It is the only playing card in the pack with a split personality.

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If there were a country where the letter "S" was unknown, everyone in the world who lisped would move there tomorrow. (This idea also occurs in another Albanian proverb, ie: "In a country without the letter 'S', nobody knows if you lisp or not.")

Three things that do not know the value of money: a young man, a newly-wed wife, and a roulette wheel.

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One day we were told to stop calling Eskimos "Eskimos" and to call them "Inuits" instead. If history has taught us anything, it is that one day we will be ordered to stop calling them "Inuits" and give them a new, dignified name.

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The pot should not call the hash brown.

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If God threw Adam and Eve out of Eden for stealing an apple, how is He going to deal with us when he sees what we have done to his planet since ?

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The cockerel sings all day, but is heard only before breakfast.

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A tourist: someone who spends all year working hard to get the money to go to another country, forgetting that when he gets there he will be laughed at for not working and for spending all his money.

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Do not judge a tomato by its pips.

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How cruel to give a man a clock when he retires. How much kinder to give it him when he first joins the company.

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Three people in whom not to have confidence: a deaf waiter, an illiterate postman and a bullfighter who secretly practises his running skills.

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God created wild flowers. Man created garden flowers. Which was the harder deed ?

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Dress up warm for strip poker.

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A man who starts by slashing at one nettle will soon have worn out a whole walking stick.

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What is a butterfly, after all, except a moth without a map ?

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The Americans have always claimed the hamburger as their own invention. How grateful the people of Hamburg must feel towards them.

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God took pity on the donkey, and granted it, alone among animals, the gift of eating thistles. That should teach us to beware God's pity.

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We sometimes laugh till we cry, but we never cry till we laugh.

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Three people not to trust: a salesman who knows all your first names, a clergyman who has given up smiling and a submarine officer with a suntan.

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Do not ask a marathon runner for a description of the scenery.

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It is impossible to enter a roundabout from the wrong side.

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Never say sorry for apologising.

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All burglars are part of their local Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

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He who pays the piper should get the blame.

All these are taken from the Great Big Book of Albanian Proverbs (2005 edition)

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