Tywa proverbs

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The person who does not know how to live while they are making a living is a poorer person after their wealth is won than when they started.
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The Tywa (or Tuvans, Tuvinians) are a Turkic speaking people living in the Tuva Republic in southern Siberia in Russia.

The vernacular term for the proverb is үлегер домак (üleger domak, exemplary saying), or чечен сөс (chechen sös, eloquent word): a piece of wisdom casted in a stylized form.

Tywa proverbs typically consist of two propositions, one of which gives a straightforward comment on all things human, while the other presents an observation of nature, to validate and generalize the comment. These observations of nature often derive from animal husbandry; especially the horse takes a prominent place in Tywa proverbs.

Both statements are welded together through stylistic devices, such as rhyme and parallellism. The rhyme usually takes the form of vertical alliteration, or head rhyme, that is, both propositions of a proverb start with the same vowel, or consonant and vowel. Horizontal alliteration within one proposition occurs frequently as well. Grammatical rhyme occurs due to the fact that the two propositions of the proverb run parallel.

Ада чокта чартык өскүс,

Ава чокта бүдүн өскүс.

  • Transliteration: Ada chokta chartyk ösküs, ava chokta büdün ösküs.
  • English translation: Without father - half orphan, without mother - complete orphan.

Биче чалгаа улуг чалгаага чедер.

  • Transliteration: Biche chalgaa ulug chalgaaga cheder.
  • English translation: Small laziness leads to big laziness.

Боду ушкан уруг ыглавас.

  • Transliteration: Bodu ushkan urug yglavas.
  • English translation: The child that falls by itself does not cry.

Буура кырыыр,

Бодаган өзер.

  • Transliteration: Buura kyryyr, bodagan özer.
  • English translation: The camel stallion grows old, the camel foal grows up.

Даартагы чагдан бөгүнгү өкпе дээре.

  • Transliteration: Daartagy chagdan bögüngü ökpe deere.
  • English translation: Today's lung is better than tomorrow's fat.
  • English equivalent: Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.

Даг аьтты човадыр,

Кылык ботту човадыр.

  • Transliteration: Dag ahtty chovadyr, kylyk bottu chovadyr.
  • English translation: The mountain makes the horse suffer, anger makes oneself suffer.

Даг көрбейн эдээң азынма,

Суг көрбейн идиң ужулба.

  • Transliteration: Dag körbejn edeeŋ azynma, sug körbejn idiŋ uzhulba.
  • English translation: Without seeing the mountain, do not tuck up your skirt, without seeing the water, do not take off your boots.
  • Meaning: Do not act prematurely.

Далашкан күске сүтке дүжер.

  • Transliteration: Dalashkan küske sütke düzher.
  • English translation: The hurrying mouse falls into the milk.
  • English equivalent: Haste makes waste.

Думчукка тулганда бызаа сугжу.

  • Transliteration: Dumchukka tulganda byzaa sugzhu.
  • English translation: When [water] reaches up to the nose, the calf is a swimmer.

Кадарчыга дайангыыш херек,

Хаалгага сенчи херек.

  • Transliteration: Kadarchyga dajangyysh kherek, khaalgaga senchi kherek.
  • English translation: A herdsman needs a staff, a door needs a bolt.

Кижи өзер,

Кидис шөйлүр.

  • Transliteration: Kizhi özer, kidis shöjlür.
  • English translation: Man grows up, felt wears out.
  • Meaning: The old grow old, the young grow up.

Кудук суунда балык чок,

Кургаг ыяшта бүрү чок.

  • Transliteration: Kuduk suunda balyk chok, kurgag yjashta bürü chok.
  • English translation: There is no fish in well-water, there is no leaf on dry wood.

Кускун кара-даа болза төлүнге ынак.

  • Transliteration: Kuskun kara-daa bolza tölünge ynak.
  • English translation: Even though it is black, the raven loves its young.

Куш уялыг,

Кижи чурттуг.

  • Transliteration: Kush ujalyg, kizhi churttug.
  • English translation: A bird has a nest, man has a home.

Кырган аьт орук часпас.

  • Transliteration: Kyrgan aht oruk chaspas.
  • English translation: The old horse will not mistake the road.

Кээргеннер тоорук чуур,

Хелиңнер эреге чуур.

  • Transliteration: Keergenner tooruk chuur, kheliŋner erege chuur.
  • English translation: Nutcrackers crack cedar seeds, monks crack rosary beads.

Мал киштежип таныжар,

Кижи чугаалажып таныжар.

  • Transliteration: Mal kishtezhip tanyzhar, kizhi chugaalazhyp tanyzhar.
  • English translation: Livestock become acquainted by neighing to one another, people become

acquainted by talking to one another.

Мурнай үнген кулакты соңнай үнген мыйыс эртер.

  • Transliteration: Murnaj üngen kulakty soŋnaj üngen myjys erter.
  • English translation: The horn that came out last will pass the ear that came out first.
  • Meaning: The pupil surpasses the master.

Өдүрээн часса-даа, xөлүн часпас.

  • Transliteration: Ödüreen chassa-daa, khölün chaspas.
  • English translation: Even though he misses his duck, he will not miss his lake.
  • Meaning: To be not entirely mistaken.

Сөглээн сөс,

Керткен ыяш.

  • Transliteration: Sögleen sös, kertken yjash.
  • English translation: A spoken word, carved wood.
  • Meaning: One should keep one's promise.

Xат чокта сиген бажы шимчевес.

  • Transliteration: Khat chokta sigen bazhy shimcheves.
  • English translation: Without wind, the ears of the grass do not move.
  • English equivalent: There is no smoke without a fire.

Xырны тотса-даа, караа тотпас.

  • Transliteration: Khyrny totsa-daa, karaa totpas.
  • English translation: Even though his stomach is satiated, his eye will not be satiated.

Чаңгыс инектиң мыйызын кагарга, муң инектиң мыйызы аарыыр.

  • Transliteration: Chaŋgys inektiŋ myjyzyn kagarga, muŋ inektiŋ myjyzy aaryyr.
  • English translation: When hitting the horn of a single cow, the horns of a thousand cows hurt.
  • Meaning: A community is troubled when one member is troubled.

Чут болурга ыт семириир,

Аарыг болурга лама байыыр.

  • Transliteration: Chut boorga yt semiriir, aaryg boorga lama bajyyr.
  • English translation: When there is killing weather, the dogs grow fat, when there is

disease, the lamas grow rich.

Чыткан теве аксынче каңмыыл кирбес.

  • Transliteration: Chytkan teve aksynche kaŋmyyl kirbes.
  • English translation: Tumbleweed will not enter into the mouth of the lying camel.
  • English equivalent: No pain, no gain.

Чыткан теве аксынга каңмыыл кирген.

  • Transliteration: Chytkan teve aksynga kaŋmyyl kirgen.
  • English translation: Tumbleweed entered the mouth of the lying camel.
  • Meaning: Said of a person who is lucky without taking trouble.

Ыт кудуруун айбылаар.

  • Transliteration: Yt kuduruun ajbylaar.
  • English translation: The dog orders its tail.
  • Meaning: To shirk work.

Эки кижээ эш xөй,

Эки аьтка ээ xөй.

  • Transliteration: Eki kizhee esh khöy, eki ahtka ee khöy.
  • English translation: A good person has many friends, a good horse has many masters.


  • Khadakhane, M., & Sagan-ool, O. 1966. Tuvinskie poslovicy i pogovorki. Kyzyl.
  • Tenishev È. R. 1968. Tuvinsko-russkij slovar'. Moscow.