Saturday, August 14, 2010

Albanian expressions and sayings

This summer I informed my teacher that I wanted to learn more about Albanian expressions and proverbs. A few days later she arrived to our lesson with a list of expressions and then after that, she just started teaching me all kinds of things, stuff people say to congratulate on honors, or old expressions from her grandmother, Albanian proverbs, you name it. I've really enjoyed learning these all summer and in fact, whenever I'm with a group of Albanians they all get a kick outta me saying these things. This however can be bad at times when I'm with a family and they want me to keep saying things over and over again, almost puppet-like (the following are literal translations by the way, I'll explain) :

Albanian family: Chelsi, Chelsi what have you learned in your lessons?
Me: Oh we've been studying grammar, I've been reading the newspaper, and oh, Albanian expressions
Albanian family (very excitedly): Oh oh, tell us what you've learned
Me: Ummm, okay, "Don't fly with leeks up your but"
Albanian family: (laughing hysterically) ahhh hahahahaha, another one another
Me: Don't put off today's work until tomorrow because you can do it even the day after tomorrow
Albanian family: wooo hoo, woww, another, another
Me: I don't eat soap for cheese.
Albanian family: ahhhhh hahha, where do you get these? Another, another
Me: Do you think you're special, you make red eggs or something?
Albanian family: hahahaha

And this game can go on for hours. Now the thing is, as I said I really do enjoy learning expressions, sayings, etc, so now I'm writing below some of my other favorites, with the Albanian and English together.

- "Mos bie nga Kina" which means, "don't come from China." The meaning is somehow tied to, don't go all the way around the world when trying to explain something - in other words, be direct.

- "Kali kuqe ka nje huqe" which means, "even the red horse has it's flaw." The meaning is that even the pretty girl, nice girl has at least one flaw. One of the women from my language school has instructed me to say this to my Albanian female friends that smoke

- "Mos shit pordhe" which means, "don't sale farts" - you can say this to someone who is being a know-it-all or someone who thinks that he or she is all that

- Albanians love it when I say, "Per mua, shqipja eshte buke e djath" which means, for me, "Albanian language is like bread and cheese." English speakers would say, "like bread and butter." This is a big lie, but people laugh when I say it.

- "Te bashkohet toke me qiellen, ti nuk do te paguash per kafe!" I often have to say this to my friends when I'm trying to pay for coffee and put my foot down, the meaning is, "Even if the earth and sky were to meet, you cannot pay for this coffee!" Yep, paying for coffee can get this dramatic.

- "Djali pa vellai eshte si zog pa krah" which means, "A boy without a brother is like a bird without a wing." This is just a saying that I find intriguing

- "Bej syte kater" which means, "Make four eyes." My teacher likes to tell this to me, it means, be careful! I think we in the States would talk about eyes in the back of our head but here, it's just better to make four eyes


  1. hehe
    I really liked it, especially the one of doing work after tomorrow :))

  2. Thanks! That what I was looking for!!!

  3. lol @ paying for coffee can get this dramatic. :P

  4. haha i'm albanian and this is so true... funny shit man funny shit ( Yeah paying for coffee or paying for anything in general can get VERY dramatic)

  5. This is so great - I can't wait to impress all my Albanian in-laws with my new knowledge of Shqip sayings!

  6. hehe. not bad at all. a couple of grammatical corrections (from a native speaker):

    "Mos i bjer nga Kina" - the construction "i bie nga..." means to "go via..." So, in this case, "don't take the long way there"; be direct; get to the point. [see 'bie' (12) in ; Shqip-Shqip ]

    "Kali i kuq e ka nje huq." (masculine)

    "Mos shit pordhe" - don't SELL farts, of course. From a combined Anglo-Alb PoV, the proximity of the two words is even funnier. I'd never noticed. :)

    "toka me qiellin"
    "Djali pa vella" (rhymes with krah)

    "Beji syte...."

  7. great great been with albanian for 5 years now and have to say so hard to learn the language... i should take some lessions in albania and stay there for 3 months or so... i think albania is so cool place to be ohhh...happy to come across your blog

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  9. Don't fly with leeks up your but hahaha.I like that.One of my favorite.

  10. I love that you took the time to learn about our country , it's beautiful ,the people are very educated and it has a lot of potential. Anyway my grandmother always says "Guri mund te leviz po e di ku e ka shtepin." Meaning the rock can move but it knows where it's home is .

  11. It's like this in America there's somewhat of a rare slang term for police which is "popo" and why that term may seem weird or hilarious to an Albanian is because the word 'po' itself means 'yes' in Albanian so therefore addressing police as "popo" sounds like addressing them as "yesyes" which is why that would sound weird or funny to an Albanian (not surprisingly most Albanian adults may find the term popo weird but it's possible that many Albanian children could burst out laughing if they're informed that police are nicknamed the "popo" in U.S.A.)The other thing is to my knowledge no one nicknames criminals as "jojos" (see the connection because 'jo' means 'no' in Albanian.) But you never know if one day the term "popo" even "jojo" are incorporated as the newest words in the Albanian vocabulary what if one day a sign in Albania and/or Kosovo reads (in Albanian of course) "Keep Albania & Kosovo crime free,if you see a "jojo" or suspect someone of being a "jojo" you're encouraged to contact the "popos". That would appear strange or childish but yet it be funny in my opinion.

  12. It's me again and with regards to my comments I posted which is dated June 3,2013 what I could have also posted to ensure I'm not going off topic is because I stated in a previous comment that if "popo" even "jojo" were to be newest words incorporated in the Albanian vocabulary (not sure if it will ever occur) and even if may sound "cheesy" but what if there's a new Albanian proverb (can't translate it in Albanian)that goes as follows:'If you choose to be a jojo than expect punishment from the popo.'

  13. just blogwalking.. Nice post and have a nice day :)