Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mexican Paremiology

Paremiology? Heh? Paremiology is the study of proverbs and since I was teaching English proverbs to my students today, I decided they could teach me some famous Mexican ones. Here's what I learned. (Yeah yeah, I know, I'm paid to teach not to learn, but a girl gets her kicks where she can, right?)

"Camaron que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente"
Literal translation: "The shrimp that sleep get taken by the current".

"Al que madruga, Dios lo ayuda"
Literal translation: "He who gets up early, God helps"

Zapatero a sus zapatos
Literal translation: "Shoemaker to his shoes"

El que tiene tienda que la atienda
Literal translation: "He who has a store should attend it"

Agua que no has de beber, dejala correr
Literal translation: "Water that you are not going to drink, let it run"

Hijo de tigre pintito
Literal translation: "Son of the striped tiger"

En la casa del jabonero el que no cae resbala
Literal translation: "In the soap man's house he who doesn't fall slips"

"Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo"
Literal translation: "The devil knows more from being old than being the devil"

"Matrimonio y mortaja del cielo bajan"
Literal translation: "Marriage and shroud from heaven will come"

"El muerto y el arrimado a los tres días apesta"
Literal translation: "The dead and the uninvited guest stink at three days"

"El burro trabaja doble"
Literal translation: "The donkey works double"

I was going to explain what they mean aside from the literal translation, but maybe it's more fun to let you figure it out. Some are pretty easy, but some of them made me go "Huh?". Any guesses as to their meanings?


Scott Bulger Photography said...

My personal favorite is:

"The devil knows more from being old than from being the devil."

Followed closely by:

"The dead and uninvited guests stink after three days."

So much wisdom...

Fned said...

ooh ooh! My personal favorite is:

"en tierra de ciegos, el tuerto manda"

"In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is boss"


Theresa in Mèrida said...

Those were great. The only one that I couldn't figure out was whether being the son of the painted tiger was good or not.

Nicole said...

"The shrimp that sleep get taken by the current"
Don’t be lazy or you will end up somewhere you don’t want to be

"He who gets up early, God helps"
Take action and steps toward your goal

"Shoemaker to his shoes"
Somebody that thinks they know it all

"He who has a store should attend it"
Mind your business

"Water that you are not going to drink, let it run"
Don’t be wasteful

"Son of the striped tiger"
Someone who is confused

"In the soap man's house he who doesn't fall slips"

"The devil knows more from being old than being the devil"

"Marriage and shroud from heaven will come"

"The dead and the uninvited guest stink at three days"
It takes 3 days before someone starts to get on your nerves

"The donkey works double"
A donkey can be a horse too.

Anonymous said...

My fave is - Para sacar un clavo, usa otro clavo. =To take out a nail, use another nail.
It means to get over a girl/boy friend get a new one.

Not the best advice but I love the imagery of the quote lol

barry said...

These are great ,Kelly and several have Anglo similarities like #2 ..the early bird catches the worm but combined with God helps those who help themselves. and #10 . Fish and in-laws stink after 3 days .I wasn't sure what #7 was and #9 was the most open to several meanings,, if shroud could also mean mantle,, it was 'God blesses a marriage" . If it only means Shroud.. it could mean'statistics show that single people engage is risky hobbies and are more exposed to shorter life spans and quicker deaths,,, so if you want a LONG SLOW DEATH ..get married (wink).Thanks for the fun.

Jonna said...

I love dichos! I have a collection too. I'm adding yours to mine. I wasn't sure about the tiger either but I'm thinking it is similar to the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree.

Here are some of my favs.

Más vale atole con risas, que chocolate con lágrimas
Atole with laughter is worth more than chocolate with tears.

La vejez con amor, es un invierno con flores.
Age with love, is a winter with flowers

Comes frijoles y eructas pollo.
Eat beans and burp chicken

Baile y cochino, en casa del vecino.
Dance and eat pork, at the neighbor's house

Cada loca con su tema.
Every crazy person has their theme

and my all time favorite:

Pueblo chico, infierno grande.
small town, big hell

ArtCee said...

El burro trabaja doble.

Burro also means dunce or dumb, for example: "Que burro eres"

So "A dumb person works twice as hard."

On of my favorites:

A casa ajena, con barriga llena.

Visit a strange house, eat first.

El que solo se rie, de sus pecados se acuerda.

He who laughs alone is remembering his sins

CancunCanuck said...

Scott- For some reason my personal fave is the sleeping shrimp, I just have a beautiful image of a shrimp with a pillow floating down a river. :)

Fned- Good one, thanks amiga!

Theresa- I think the son of the painted tiger is similar to "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" or "like father, like son". So, could be good or bad!

culture queen- Ok, I like your interpretations so much that I will not correct you, LOL! Nice to see you round these parts, thanks for stopping in!

LisaLove- Me likey, good one! Too bad so many men get that second nail going before removing the first one. ;-)

Barry- LOL, I like your interpretation too! I've read several theories on the meaning of the marriage/shroud one, stick with yours, heehee. One suggests that only God can create a marriage and death, or that both good and bad things can come from heaven.

Jonna- Eat beans and burp chicken? Heh? LOL. Thanks for adding to the list, those are great!

Cee- Your interpretation is the one that I learned, though I am sure there are others! But the second one? You mean I have to eat before going to the house where they are going to get offended if I don't eat piles of their food? Odd, here I've always been told to show up hungry so as not to upset the host. Interesting! Thanks for jumping in!

Theresa in Mèrida said...

I guess I was being a cameron, I didn't give you my translations:
1. cameron que duerme
If you aren't paying attention, bad things will happen to you before you know it. Kinda like "if you snooze you loose."
2.Al que madruga
"The early bird gets the worm"
3.Zapatero a sus zapatos
mind your own business.
4>El que tiend tienda..
Take care of business
5.Aqua que no has de beber
Its a dog in the manger situation, if you don't want it, don't keep other people from having it.
6.Hijo de tigre pintito..
I am not familar with that word, I know pintado for painted and rayado for striped. I did find out that a Mexican slang for truant is "irse de pinta"
7.En las casa del jabonero
I think it means if you are being slippery or doubledealing, so if you are dealing with a con man don't be surprised if you are taken
8.mas que sabe
Experience is the best teacher
9.matrimono y mortaja
Death and marriage are both ordained in heaven
10. el muerte y el arrimado
this is pretty straight forward
11. el burro trabaja doble
work smarter not harder...

so how did I do in this cultural exchange...oh, my mom always used to say "El burro enfrente de todo la gente"....when someone was pushy


Jonna said...

Theresa, when you wrote 'irse de pinta' it reminded me that in California pocho slang, la pinta means prison. Perhaps that tigre was a jailbird. ;)

Kathy said...

I can't believe noone mentioned the dancing dogs... :)

You know, Con dinero, hasta que bailen los perros! or something like that...

Maybe it is a Yucatan saying as my Meridiana friend says it all the time.

Jonna said...

Yes, I forgot that one. It's not just from the Yucatan but all over Mexico. It's Con dinero baile el perro. With money, the dog dances. It refers to bribery, with enough money even a dog will dance.

Theresa in Mèrida said...

I just asked La Muchacha and she said un tigre pintito is like a cheetah, it doesn't have spots but little dashes. It means the son of an infamous father,(like father like son.

Somebody said...

YAY! theresa in merida got it. I was scrolling and reading thinking surely someone would get 'like father, like son'.

The further down I got, the more I realized that no one had figured that one out yet ... but I knew what it was because my inlaws have said it before.

I like the shrimp one too :)


Anonymous said...

This is an awesome post! Thanks for sharing these!

CancunCanuck said...

Theresa- I bow down before you oh goddess of proverbs, thanks!!

Jonna- New one for me, haven't heard "pinta" for prison. I like the idea that the tiger was a jail bird.

Harvestmoon- The dancing dogs one is good, thanks for the reminder! And oh, I have looked for your email but can't remember which comment it was on, oh my old brain, can you share it again or just send me some mail to cancuncanuck at gmail dot com?

Lisa- The tiger one I haven't heard before, I guess I should hang out with my inlaws more, I'm sure they would apply it to Hubby and his dad!

Mexpat- You're welcome, glad you enjoyed it! I learn something new everyday and have to share it when I do!

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