Author Archive
Folk speech
Proverbs

Until Lions Write Their Own History, the Tale of the Hunt Will Always Glorify the Hunter

AU is a student at USC majoring in Anthropology with a minor in Journalism. She will begin her graduate studies next year at USC Dornsife. She is also a co-worker at the United University Church [UUC] working at the front desk.

 

 

Until lions write their own history, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.

 

 

This proverb is very prominent in Africa. My informant was very passionate about its meaning. She extrapolated on how it was representative of colonialism and that it is still an ongoing struggle today seeing as a majority of countries have been established under the yoke of Europe. For her this proverb is a way of saying that things, particularly the written record, will not change until the people who arose from colonialism seek to change their history.

 

I felt that I agreed with some of the points she made concerning the view that many countries who were established by European nations view their creators. There are many who see them as the “motherland” which causes conflict with others who do not hold the same views.

 

 

For a different version of this proverb please see the Introduction to Frederick Douglass’s book by Wendell Phillips

 

Digital
Humor

Presidential Joke-Harry Truman

This joke was collected from a fanfiction story called “Every Day A Holiday I :Summer” in The Sentinel fandom. The premise of the fic is that one of the protagonist is dared by his partner to find a unique holiday for every day for a period of three months. This particular joke was for the August 11th holiday: Presidential Joke Day.

 

 

The Trumans were taking a tour of a farm, being shown around separately. In the chicken yard Bess said, ‘Only one rooster for all these hens?’ The farmer told her it was no problem, as the rooster could ahem perform his duty many times a day. Bess said, ‘Tell that to the president.’ Later Harry was brought around to the hen yard, and the farmer relayed Mrs. Truman’s comment. The president said, ‘With the same chicken each time?’ ‘No sir, with a different chicken each time.’ ‘Tell that to Mrs. Truman.
This joke was posted as a part of a story dealing with two characters who are work partners and roommates who through the course of celebrating holidays find a new depth to their relationship which transitions from platonic to romantic. It was thus interesting that the premise of this joke was infidelity and making light of that situation. However, in the context of the story is could serve as a contrast to the relationship already held by the protagonists and gradual change into a deeper relationship. Through the course of celebrating holidays, the couple is able to work through any lingering problems that they may have and settle into a more stable situation.

Customs
Folk speech
Proverbs

Mas Sabe el Diablo por Viejo que por Diablo

RH was born in Santa Catarina La Chatao, a pueblo in Oaxaca, Mexico. All of the proverbs that she knows she learned from her mother who learned them from her mother and so on. Proverbs[Dichos] are a more subtle way of communicating in Mexican culture, and are ways of having entire conversations with only one sentence. Most dichos speak of faults that can be found in human nature and how that can lead to fall out among kin and kith groups.

 

 

Mas sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo

 

The devil knows more due to being old rather than being the devil

 

To my mother this proverb means that people are knowledgeable due to their age and experience rather than for a title they may hold as is the case of the devil. It is an interesting saying and shows the contrast of a culture where respect for the elderly is expected which is unlike American culture where respect is given due to titles rather than age.

Customs
Folk speech
Proverbs

Dime de que Presumes y te Dire de que Careses

RH was born in Santa Catarina La Chatao, a pueblo in Oaxaca, Mexico. All of the proverbs that she knows she learned from her mother who learned them from her mother and so on. Proverbs[Dichos] are a more subtle way of communicating in Mexican culture, and are ways of having entire conversations with only one sentence. Most dichos speak of faults that can be found in human nature and how that can lead to fall out among kin and kith groups.

 

 

Dime de que presumes y te dire de que careses

 

Tell me what you boast of and I will tell you of what you are made of

 

 

For my mother this proverb means that a person makes presumptions about their worth without having proved themselves. It is used when a person boasts about being able to do things but never showing that they are capable of doing them. It is mostly used against people who try to make themselves out to be of a higher caste/position than they are.

 

Customs
Folk speech
Proverbs

Dios los Crea y Ellos Se Juntan

RH was born in Santa Catarina La Chatao, a pueblo in Oaxaca, Mexico. All of the proverbs that she knows she learned from her mother who learned them from her mother and so on. Proverbs[Dichos] are a more subtle way of communicating in Mexican culture, and are ways of having entire conversations with only one sentence. Most dichos speak of faults that can be found in human nature and how that can lead to fall out among kin and kith groups.

 

 

Dios los crea y ellos se juntan

 

God creates them and they bring themselves together

 

 

This proverb is used in a negative context. It speaks of two people who have faults in common and come together thus increasing the negative aspects of themselves and each other. It is used in reference to couples who cause conflicts with other people, usually by spreading rumors and gossip.

 

Customs
Folk speech
Proverbs

Dime con Quien Andas y te Dire Quien Eres

RH was born in Santa Catarina La Chatao, a pueblo in Oaxaca, Mexico. All of the proverbs that she knows she learned from her mother who learned them from her mother and so on. Proverbs[Dichos] are a more subtle way of communicating in Mexican culture, and are ways of having entire conversations with only one sentence. Most dichos speak of faults that can be found in human nature and how that can lead to fall out among kin and kith groups.

 

 

Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres.

 

Tell me with who you interact with an I will tell you who you are.
This proverb is about being careful of who you befriend. It is mostly used for people who are searching for an identity among the wrong people and do not seem to realize that they are making the wrong choices.

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Narrative

Mysterious Object

SM was born in San Miguel Amatlan a pueblo in Oaxaca, Mexico. He was lived here for half his life time working as a cook at various restaurants throughout L.A. County. This story was told to him by a co-worker some years ago.

 

 

No se quien se lo hizo si no que dice que derepente le dolia aqui su brazo. Aquí abajo de su brazo le dolía. Y le salio una bolita…y se agarraba el guey se agarraba y dice que asi estaba y ya no este…pues ya no aguanto el dolor porque se le estaba hinchando se le estaba hinchando… y el dice que le estaba molestando y ya no aguanto entonces como ya estaba el bodoque ahí fue al doctor. y le revisaron ahí, le revisaron y después le abrieron y le sacaron una toalla. Una toalla de esas toallas dice que le sacaron ya todo vieja todo asi, pedasos de toalla le sacaron. Y esta molesto, estaba encabronado que quien pero dice que él piensa que no más su cuñado. Pero te digo que no se llevaba con su cuñado.

 

 

I don’t know who did it to him, only that he said that suddenly he started to feel pain here in his arm. Here underneath his arm he felt pain. He developed a small growth…and he grabbed himself, grabbed himself and he said that he was like that and that well…well he could no longer stand the pain because it swelled and swelled…and he said it was bothering him and he could no longer stand it, so since he had a growth he went to the doctor. And they checked him there, they checked him and later they cut him open and they took out a towel. One of those towels, he said they took it out all old, they took out pieces of towel. and he was upset, he was pissed off of who had done that. He thought that it was only his brother-in-law. Because I tell you he did not get along with his brother-in-law.

 

 

This story is exemplary of the acts that are carried out among family members due to marriage feuds, which revolve around birthplace or a presence of a magical bloodline.Though family is hailed as important in hispanic cultures, it is also family that are the only people that can hurt you. I found this story interesting, particularly that the storyteller had to go to the hospital. It would have been interesting to see the doctors reaction.

 

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative
Tales /märchen

Los Duendes

EA is a student at USC majoring in Creative Writing. She is also a co-worker at the United University Church [UUC] working at the front desk. This story comes from her Mexican heritage.

 

 

Transcribed from Audio Recording:

 

 

There’s one like my family is from Mexico um its like a super super small ah…like little pueblo and we have a lot of like mountains and everybody always says to the kids to be careful when they go out there ‘cause like, everybody like walks their cows like thats the route that you take. So they’re always like be careful because like, they like say bad things happen like gnomes, you have them there i\I think um a lot of people say that they see like or hear little kids playing

 

Los duendes?

 

Yeah. They’re little kids playing and like um so they like if little kid are there so of course they want to play with so they take you deep into the forest and they like you are chasing after them the next thing you know you have no idea where you are and like stuck in this mountain so like that has happened a lot and there’s a lot of people who have come back and tell you  about hey heard and saw

 

Do they actually go with the kids?

 

Yeah but not its not like oh let me go test it out i think that one of the ladies it such a small pueblo that like to call you call like one house and they call they tell you they have speakers and they tell you you have a call like like E—- you have a call and you go to the house there so like that lady who um owns that little house thingy uh she went to go…I think to go pick up some berries or something random like that. She took her two little kids and they were like…they were like from there so they know like the mountain and all that stuff. Supposedly, they like…she heard one of the kids…they heard like some kids playing so like he ran after her and they like um were stuck there and they like the mom went to look for her um for the little kid and they ended up being stuck I think for like…I forgot how many days. Like a little over a week, probably ten days they were lost on this mountain and like she doesn’t remember how but she got down and she was able to get her kids down too.

 

 

This is a cautionary tale that points out that just because something looks innocent does not mean that it is. Children are an important part of any culture and this is a way of cautioning parents of the need to be suspicious of everything when it concerns their child. There are many dangers that can befall children particularly in a remote area, where search for a missing child can be difficult.

 

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative

Crooked Mouth-Pregnancy

EA is a student at USC majoring in Creative Writing. She is also a co-worker at the United University Church [UUC] working at the front desk. This story comes from her Mexican heritage.

 

 

Transcribed from Audio Recording:

 

 

Um also you know if like you give birth like there’s first few weeks after, um like your body is still super sensitive so like they always tell you like, or over there they tell you don’t go out in the cold, don’t like go out at night, like stay home with your baby, let your body recover. And then ‘cause if not tambien se te pone la boca chueca. [you also get a crooked mouth.] And like um and I didn’t well I guess I did believe it ‘cause like my grandma is telling me this stuff and she’s like, “Ya, ya.” And um one time we went to Mexico and this one girl she’s like super young, she got pregnant young, and she still wanted to go out and stuff like that so she went out and like I saw her! Her mouth was chueca, I was oh shoot! like this is real, this is real like…but I don’t know.

 

What do you think the focus on the mouth is about?

 

I don’t know but my grandma did tell me that for the um the pregnancy one that your whole face would kind of just… I don’t know the way I thought about it is like…you know when you do a pot of something you can shape it when it is hot, like but when ya se enfria yeah like yeah. That’s kind of what I thought like your body stays in the heat moment and if you got in the cold it’s gonna do something to your face. I don’t even know what I thought.

 

 

This was an interesting tale. There could be sexual connotations to having this warning, about not seeking out a mate so soon after having a child. Perhaps there are questions of fidelity and the importance of family and loyalty, and this phenomena as being a consequence of straying. The mouth by itself is symbolic and can refer to staying at home with your child as a caregiver and provider of food but it can also be euphemistic in the sense that if you go out, you will be punished for seeking out sexual partners. This is also a different version of how to gain a crooked mouth also told by the same source.

Folk Beliefs
Magic
Myths
Narrative

Spiritual Spouses

AU is a student at USC majoring in Anthropology with a minor in Journalism. She will begin her graduate studies next year at USC Dornsife. She is also a co-worker at the United University Church [UUC] working at the front desk. The story that she told me comes from her African origins.

 

 

In Nigeria there are other things that can happen between humans and the spirits if the marine kingdom. Other than pacts, there is the possibility of a human unknowingly gaining a spirit spouse. A marine spirit may take a liking to a human go passed by their river often and decide that they want that person, so they lay a claim on them. The way that people discover this is by having problems with relationships. They will be unable to form a romantic relationship with anyone. There are also dreams that are had by the person afflicted. The person who is chosen can be in any age range. There are accounts of young kids having a spirit spouse and not knowing until they reach puberty and start dreaming of a specific figure they have never met before. The only way to get rid of these spouses is to be cleansed by a Catholic priest.

 

 

This story brings to mind the belief that wet dreams where the cause of succubi and incubi before the discovery of hormonal imbalance. It is an interesting take on what the problem could be for not being able to form relationships.Something that has become prevalent is how Catholicism and Christianity are being used as a way to fight against the beliefs of a region. If there are bad things that can happened, there should be things that can be done to remedy that from within those same systems of belief. It is interesting to note how pervasive Abrahamic beliefs have become as they are spread by Western practitioners.

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