One of my friends challenged me on the statement "we are more similar than different." Just by coincidence, the following day, I was skimming one of my favorite old books "The New Book of Unusual Quotations" by Rudolph Flesch, 1957. I noticed a large number of proverbs. Proverbs are part of every spoken language.

Most proverbs have their origin in oral translations. They were usually intended to form codes of behavior and to transmit wisdom.

Through the centuries we have been very creative in making new proverbs out of old ones. Hammurabi, from Babylon, was credited with saying, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." The Nandi tribe from East Africa would say, "A goat's hide buys a goat's hide, and a gourd a gourd." I wonder who said what first.

Abe Lincoln gets credit for "Don't swap horses in mid-stream." I don't think it was an original thought. Even King Solomon in the Bible, Book of Proverbs, contained most of his wisdom that came from earlier compilations. "If the shoe fits, wear it" had its origin from "If the cap fits, wear it." The cap referred to was a medieval dunce cap.

Listed are a few proverbs. They have been taken from national and regional groups. Here are some warm ups.

"Hell is full of dirty housewives." [Japanese]

"If men could see the future, they would still behave as now." [Russian]

Now it's your turn. There are no precise correct answers because we cannot be sure of their origins. We have to trust Mr. Flesch. It does remind us, as people of the world, we have much in common.

Guess the origin

1. There are always two sides to a prediction.

2. All my children are prodigies.

3. Do not stand in places of danger, trusting in miracles.

4. With a woman, first thoughts are best. With a man, second thoughts.

5. God, defend me from myself.

6. He that takes medicine and neglects his diet, wastes the skill of the physician.

7. There are many dusty bibles, more than dusty books of pornography.

8. Friendship with a fool is like the embrace of a bear.

9. Advise and counsel him. If he does not listen, let adversity teach him.

10. All gamblers go broke.

Ken Seifert is a 40-year resident of Andover and former superintendent of the Andover schools.

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