Sunday, 22 September 2013

Colombian proverb 2

Colombian proverb:  A papaya puesta, papaya partida.

English translation:  Papaya served; papaya eaten.

What do you think this proverb means?

(a)  This is a proverb about being thankful for what you are given.  For example, when going to dinner at somebody's house, you should eat everything your host serves you.  

(b)  This is a proverb about seizing opportunities.  It means that when somebody offers you an opportunity, you should take advantage of it before somebody else does.

(c)  This is a proverb about protecting yourself.  It means that if you leave yourself open to being taken advantage of, you will be taken advantage of.

The correct answer is (c).  It is a warning about being taken advantage of and can be applied to many situations:  In relationships, if you are behave like a doormat, others will walk all over you.  While walking, if you keep your wallet in your back pocket, you leave yourself open to pickpockets.  Another use is when a teenage girl dresses provocatively, her mother might tell her to change her outfit because 'papaya served is papaya eaten.'  

Thank you to my student Milagro for sharing this proverb

Spanish proverb

Spanish proverb:  Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente.

English translation:  The shrimp that falls asleep is carried away by the current.

What do you think this proverb means?

(a)  The proverb is about the importance of rest and relaxation.   

(b)  The proverb is about staying alert to danger.  

(c)  The proverb is about taking advantage of opportunities.  

The answer is (c).  If you don't pay attention to what is going on around you, you may miss out on opportunities.  

This proverb has been shared by many of my students over the years, from many different Spanish-speaking countries.  Thank you also to the Prison Arts Coalition and artist Chris M. for permission to use this picture.  

Friday, 20 September 2013

Brazilian proverb

Brazilian proverb:  Água mole em pedra dura, tanto bate até que fura

English translation:  Water hitting day by day wears the hardest rock away. 

This proverb means that if you persist with something that seems hard, eventually you will succeed.  The values expressed are those of patience, perseverance, hard work, which are international proverb themes.  Below are more proverbs with the same or similar theme:  

Mongolia:  A man falls seven times and gets up eight times.
China:  A jade stone is useless before it's carved.
Russia:  Without effort it's not easy even to pull a fish from a pond.
Dominican Republic:  Slowly and calmly a donkey climbs a palm tree.
Vietnam:  Grind iron with patience; one day you'll have a needle.
China:  A thousand meter building is built from the ground.

Thank you to my student Milena for sharing this proverb, and to my colleague Marcela for helping with the editing process.

Interactive proverb

English proverb:  Every cloud has a silver lining

What better picture to illustrate this proverb than this one taken on a cloudy day in Orta, Italy.

So, now for something completely different ..... an interactive proverb blog post!  It's all about reader participation, so please comment (below) with an example of a situation in which you might say (or did say) 'every cloud has a silver lining.'  

Thanks, and I look forward to reading your comments and stories!!!  

English proverb

English language proverb:  If the hat fits, wear it!

Disclaimer:  I've included this proverb because I couldn't resist the opportunity to show off this picture of my three children, taken in April 1995, and what better way than to feature it in a proverb?

This proverb is used in situations where you are talking in general terms, and someone asks you if you are referring to him/her.  For example, if I say 'Spanish people seem to be more trusting than Americans' (see my post on this topic from my sabbatical blog) and if my Spanish friend asks 'are you talking about me?' then I might say 'if the hat fits, wear it.'  This means that it's up to her to judge whether or not she is included in the generalization.  She can decide, based on her own assessment of her character, whether the description fits her.  

Greek proverb

Greek proverb:  

English translation:  The fish smells rotten from the head first.

What do you think this proverb means?

(a)  The proverb is about corruption in an organization.  When things rot or go bad, the rot starts at the higher levels of the company and then travels down.   

(b)  The proverb is about over-thinking.  If you think too much, or become obsessed, about something, you may cause psychological damage which can negatively affect every aspect of your life.

(c)  The proverb is about pride.  When you get too conceited, or 'big-headed', things are going to start going wrong in your life.  The proverb advises us not to become too self important, because pride comes before a fall.

The answer is (a).  Corruption starts at the top. For example, when a company goes bankrupt or gets into trouble, you can usually find that the trouble started at the executive level.  Click here to see more Greek proverbs.

Thanks to my colleague Lindi for sharing this proverb, and my son Corin for this photograph