Residence: Irvine, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: May 1, 2021
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Hindi
My informant, AS, is a 19-year-old Indian male who grew up in Mumbai, though he has lived in Southern California for the past three years. He now attends UCI. He is fluent in both English and Hindi. This piece was collected during a facetime call, when I asked him to share a typical Hindi proverb with me.
Proverb: बंदर क्या जाने अदरक का स्वाद
Phonetic script: bandar kya jaane adrak ka swaad
Transliteration: Monkey what knows ginger(‘s) taste
Translation: How can a monkey appreciate the taste of ginger?
“It’s basically used when someone doesn’t appreciate something of quality. For example, if I don’t like the taste of something like caviar, you’d use this proverb.”
This proverb would appear to show that in Indian culture there is a healthy respect for the finer things in life, and a negative attitude towards those who don’t appreciate quality goods or work. It’s interesting because I can’t think of a direct English equivalent, beyond possibly “enjoy the finer things in life.” This might point to very different cultural values between Hindi-speakers and English-speakers