Author Archive
Proverbs

Lying & Stealing Proverb

Because most proverbs I know of tend to be incredibly well known and overstated in America, I decided to search online for unusual proverbs I would not recognize and research those proverbs’ meaning and origins. I found the most unique one to have Slovenian origins.

Proverb:

Lying a little and stealing a little will get you nicely through the world.

Translation:

Perhaps synonymous with “rules are made to be broken,” this proverb suggests that a little white lie and a little harmless stealing will lead to a smoother, easier life than avoiding these inevitabilities at all cost.

Context:

Originating in Slovenia, I discovered this proverb on the website ExpatFocus, on a page entitled “10 Unusual Proverbs from Around the World.”

Analysis:

I think this proverb is distinctly intriguing because it slightly contradicts the essential purpose of proverbs: to give resounding advice that suggests universal truths of the world. Instead, this proverb is almost meant to not be taken too seriously because it advocates criminal activity. It also holds a considerable amount of humor, in my opinion, which also could be argued it is a mix between a proverb and a folk joke. Typically, I do not come across humorous proverbs, so this one stood out to me because it is unique and incomparable to others.

 

Website Citation: For more references, visit the URL for other similarly unusual and unique proverbs with specified explanations and origins: https://www.expatfocus.com/c/aid=2408/articles/general/10-unusual-proverbs-from-around-the-world/

Proverbs

Cincinnati Proverb

The following was recorded from a conversation I had with a friend marked HL. I am marked CS. She shared with me a proverb she was told growing up from her Grandmother.

 

HL: “If you get on the bus to Cincinnati, don’t be surprised when you get to Cincinnati.”

CS: “And how would you translate this proverb?”

HL: “Basically, if you have sex outside of marriage and you’re not on the pill, don’t be surprised when you have a kid.”

CS: “Was this proverb said often in your house?”

HL: “So like my grandma used to say that to my mom when she was a teenager, and now that I’m getting older she says it to me. And of course my mom always says it to make fun of her.”

CS: “Do you think she really believes in that proverb?”

HL: “Yeah. 100%.”

CS: “Do you think you’ll tell your kids that saying?”

HL: “No. Only to give them more information about their great grandma. I’ve also never been to Cincinnati and don’t plan on it.”

 

Background:

HL is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California. She grew up in Mission Viejo, California in a family with a strong Catholic background.

Context:

An in person conversation at a local coffee shop.

 

Analysis:

What I found so fascinating about this proverb was merely that I completely misinterpreted it until HL further explained its meaning. Initially, I would have translated the proverb to simply being if you make a choice, or have a wish, don’t be surprised when that decision has consequences or the wish comes true. However, I was clearly way off from its actual meaning, or at least the meaning has for her family. I also found this proverb to be unique in the sense that I haven’t heard of a saying quite like that before that seems to have such a true-to-life and almost blunt, candid undertone.

Proverbs

Biblical Proverb

The following was recorded from a conversation I had with a friend marked HL. I am marked CS. She shared with me a proverb she was told growing up from her Grandmother.

 

HL: “My mom always told me a biblical proverb. It was ‘to he who much is given, much is expected.”

CS: “Can you explain to me what this proverb means?”

HL: “Well I was raised in a Christian home, and it reflects the environment I was surrounded by the way I was brought up. This proverb has religious context, obviously, and I think it’s from a specific passage from the Bible but I can’t remember. The proverb basically means that because God has given me so many gifts and talents, like I shouldn’t waste them, you know what I mean? Someone shouldn’t waste their talents that were gifted to them.”

CS: “Makes sense. So does all of your family agree with and follow this proverb?”

HL: “Yeah my mom told it to my brother and all almost throughout like our entire childhood.”

 

Background:

HL is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California. She grew up in Mission Viejo, California in a family with a strong Catholic background.

Context:

An in person conversation at a local coffee shop.

 

Analysis:

I enjoy this proverb, namely because it is so relevant to many other kids my age and sounds similar to some of the sayings my mom also told me growing up. I think it’s important for these proverbs to reflect one’s heritage or culture in that these are the values one’s parents are instilling into them. They are words to live by and hopefully pass down again one day.

Proverbs

Old Age Proverb

The following proverb was recorded from a conversation I had with a friend marked HL. I am marked CS. She shared with me a proverb she was told growing up from her Grandmother.

 

HL: “Experience is a comb that nature gives us when we’re bald.”

CS: “Can you explain to me a brief translation?”

HL: “Sure. In other words, I think it’s meant to be along the lines of how as we age we are gifted more experience and knowledge over time. I like it. We said it all of the time in my house.”

 

Background:

HL is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California. She grew up in Mission Viejo, California in a family with a strong Catholic background.

Context:

An in person conversation at a local coffee shop.

 

Analysis:

I enjoyed this proverb because it feels very frank, honest, and has an air of optimism. Instead of making age and growing up a dreadful future, it appreciates the growing because one gains much more knowledge and experience than they previously had. I think this saying is really important and something that could very well be spoken across many different kinds of cultures. I also enjoy its lighthearted and almost humorous tone, making the words less serious and indefinite and instead suggestive and admiring.

 

Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Holiday tradition

The following was recorded from a conversation I had on the phone with my mother, marked JS. She described to me a few holiday traditions as well as rituals she did throughout her childhood. Below is one of the rituals.

 

JS: “We always used to leave our shoe outside on St. Nicholas Day which falls on December 6th. The idea is that he will come by and fill the shoe with treats. Sounds kinda weird, I know…but it always got the family in the Christmas spirit pretty early.”

CS: “Interesting, and you did this every year?”

JS: “Yeah, every year. My mom was way more into it than us kids were.”

CS: “Is there a reason you didn’t continue this tradition with me?”

JS: “I guess I decided it wasn’t as practical as just waiting till the 25th. Gave me more work to do too. I don’t know, by then the tradition was less thought of.”

 

Context:

A phone call conversation with my mom, JS, discussing rituals she did throughout her childhood around the time of the holidays.

Background:

JS currently resides in Laguna Beach, California but was previously raised in Minnesota.

 

Analysis:

I find this ritual interesting because it reflects the values my grandmother set for her family when it came to Christmas time. It is interesting that she decided to take a more unique path and doing a special ritual instead of the traditional and common Christmas traditions. What’s even more interesting is that this ritual didn’t continue into my mom’s adulthood and raising me. Instead, we do the very common Christmas and activities, and in fact, this was the first I had ever heard of this ritual. It is an interesting component of folklore to see how some of it sticks and is viewed with such importance in one’s life while others are simply forgotten over time.

Legends

Bell Witch Legend

The following was recorded from a conversation I had with my mom regarding ghost stories she was told in her childhoods. Our family has a few Southern ties, and she specifically remembered an old Southern ghost legend. She is marked JS, and I am marked CS.

 

CS: “So can you tell me a little synopsis of this ghost legend?”

JS: “Absolutely. So I believe it was called the Bell Witch, or Bo Witch…something like that. You might want to research it. Anyways, how the story goes from when it was told is that the witch appeared around Tennessee and has been there for centuries. Around the 17th or 18th century, I believe, a man and his family had moved to some settlement along the river. On a random day, the man—wait, now I remember. The man’s name was Bell. So the witch must be the Bell Witch. Anyways, the man (something Bell) came across an animal on their farm—I think they had a farm. Or maybe it was a cornfield. In any case, the animal I believe had the body of a dog and the head of a rabbit. The man shot it, but the animal disappeared. After the incident, the man and his family kept experiencing kind of a haunting around the house—like, the kids would be sleeping and they thought someone or something was tugging at their covers, and each night the family heard a pounding at the door but couldn’t see anyone doing it. Then, they began hearing voices, and each night, the voice grew louder and louder, getting much creepier night after night. Then they eventually started to tell everyone in the town cause the presence was growing stronger, I think it had actually started hurting the younger daughter somehow. It may have been pulling her hair or pinching her? Something like that. Anyway, word of it spread around the town like wildfire and Andrew Jackson, who fought alongside Bell in the Battle of New Orleans, decided to pay a visit at the home. But his wagon stopped and the horses couldn’t pull it the closer they got to the home. It was there that even he learned of this Bell witch and believed the rumors he’d been hearing. Then I believe the witch later attacked one of Jackson’s men for being a fraud and many of his men left cause they were obviously so afraid. Eventually all of the men left. I think there was also a sub-plot to the story where the youngest daughter was engaged and had to end the engagement because of the presence of the entity whenever her and her fiancé would meet. And after she ended it, then subsequently the witch decreased her presence. Bell finally died from a poison, which was said to be filled with some kind of liquid in a vial, given to him by the witch herself. Apparently she told the family it was allegedly his cure. The poison also killed the dog. After his death, the witch stopped appearing and no longer tormented the family. I think it was at his funeral—yeah, at the graveyard—that all of Tennessee was there and all continually heard the witch laughing during his ceremony. Crazy story.”

 

Context:

A phone call conversation with my mom, JS, discussing old ghost legends and tales she’s heard of.

Background:

JS currently resides in Laguna Beach, California but was previously raised in Minnesota.

 

Analysis:

After hearing this terrifying legend, I decided to do some research of my own to compare my mom’s version with other recounts of the Bell Witch. For the most part, her version is very in line with most; however, there are a few variations (in part probably because of memory mix ups). For one, the “dog” she refers to I have read in other accounts was actually a cat. This was interesting reading the different variations and imagining how this legend came to be and its specific origins.

Legends

Werewolf of Morbach Legend

The following was recorded from a conversation I had with my mom regarding ghost stories she was told in her childhoods. Our family has German origins, and she specifically remembered an old German myth she was told as a child. She is marked JS, and I am marked CS.

 

JS: “Okay so I believe the city is Morbach, and according to the legend, this is the last place a werewolf has been killed. I think it was killed in the late 1900’s or something. Anyways, the legend is called ‘The Werewolf of Morbach” because it is about a candle that has always been lit as a reminder to the village that the werewolf wont return. And allegedly, one night, the candle went out and soldiers spotted a wolf like figure. And to this day, the candle hasn’t burned out, but allegedly, if it does the wolf is destined to return.”

CS: “And when were you first told this legend?”

JS: “God, I wanna say when I was like 5? My mom loved legends like these and always told them to me before bed.”

 

Context:

A phone call conversation with my mom, JS, discussing old ghost legends and tales she’s heard of.

Background:

JS currently resides in Laguna Beach, California but was previously raised in Minnesota.

 

Analysis:

I enjoyed this legend because I like how its undertones ties back to war with the soldiers being the ones to discover the unlit candle. I think this is indicative of when the legend arose and why it arose when it did. The legend thus serves as a good reflection of the political and social climate of Germany of the time.

 

Legends

Flower German Legend

The following was recorded from a conversation I had with my mom regarding ghost stories she was told in her childhoods. Our family has German origins, and she specifically remembered an old German myth she was told as a child. She is marked JS, and I am marked CS.

 

JS: “Okay so the other legend I believe was called ‘The Wonderful Flower.” It was about a Shepherd who was in the middle of a difficult relationship. I think they were poor and didn’t have enough money to live a secure life or something like that. Anyways, one day he walked up a mountain and the further he climbed the happier he was, and when he reached the top he discovered a flower that was so beautiful and incomparable to anything else he had ever seen. He decided to keep it to hopefully preserve his relationship with this girl since he was too poor. He then found I think a bunch of bright and beautiful stones and was about to take them when a voice said something like “you’re missing the best one.” Then, somehow, he looked at his hat where he was storing the flower and the flower had somehow disappeared. And then a dwarf appeared and asked what happened to the flower and the shepherd responded that he wasn’t sure. He then went back home and had to tell his fiancé and they both cried together because they assumed that was their only hope of having enough money to get married and have a secure life. However, he remembered he had the stones that were actually gold and the two had a happy life. But the bigger moral of the story is the long-lost flower, and how still, even to this day, people think that they might be able to find it because it is meant for them.”

 

Context:

A phone call conversation with my mom, JS, discussing old ghost legends and tales she’s heard of.

Background:

JS currently resides in Laguna Beach, California but was previously raised in Minnesota.

 

Analysis:

What I found to be most thought provoking of this legend is how it was less of a focus in the end on the shepherd and his wife and instead a focus on the flower and its meaning in Germany. I feel that most legends tend to follow the protagonist all the way through, and those protagonists are likely meant to resonate with the audience and teach a moral lesson in the end. But with this legend, it is a story more or less about how certain people are meant for treasury like a flower or pebbles and it is a greater being that determines that the one who is meant to be with it, will find it.

 

 

folk simile

Texas Wind Simile

I decided to ask my friend if she had any interesting folk similes. She shared with me a few she thought reflected her Texas heritage. She is marked KB, and I am marked CS.

 

KB: “So the simile we always use in Texas is, ‘The winds’ blowing like perfume through a prom.’”

CS: “Can you explain to me the meaning of this simile, in your own words?”

KB: “In other words, Texas weather is really intense. Kind of comes out of nowhere. It’s just a really true statement that reflects Texas well I guess.”

CS: “Have you personally used this simile before?”

KB: “Oh yeah, all of the time.”

 

Context:

Phone conversation in which I recorded KB’s recounts of folk similes as well as a riddle she grew up learning.

Background:

KB is a freshman at the University of Southern California and grew up in Austin, Texas.

 

Analysis:

I did enjoy this simile because, although I have never been to Texas, there is definitely a well-known stigma of it and it is clear there are certain sayings you just don’t hear anywhere else. That is what I find most interesting about Texas: there are so many heritages and cultural values it seems that the folklore in the South would be so strong and prevalent.

Myths

Egyptian Myth

The following was recorded from a conversation I had with a friend marked EAL. I am marked CS. She shared with me a religious myth she grew up learning in school.

 

EAL: “So basically like this is one of the Egyptian myths out there and one of the most influential. So Osiris he was like a god and the king of Egypt. And his…um, brother Set, who is the god of chaos basically, imprisons him in a sarcophagus and so like Set takes the throne. And…um, Osiris’ wife Isis still has their son whose name his Horus. And basically she like protects him because he’s vulnerable or whatever. And once Horus grows up to where he’s strong enough, he fights Set and tries to take the throne back for his family and resurrect Osiris.

CS: “Does he do it?”

EAL: “Yeah so he defeats Set and Osiris becomes the king of the afterlife and restores ma’t (the order of the universe).”

CS: “How did you learn this story?”

EAL: “I read a book called the Red Pyramid Chronicles. And I also learned a lot of it through my art history class because it features a lot of Egyptian art.”

 

Background:

The participant is a freshman at the University of Southern California and was raised in Chicago, Illinois with a strong Christian religious background. Her mom introduced her to mythology, mostly Greek and Egyptian, at a very young age.

Context:

An in person conversation that was recorded while walking to an event.

 

Analysis:

I found this myth to be interesting because she has learned the story in two completely different facets of knowledge: a young adult series and an art history class. The idea that both referenced this Egyptian myth at some point in time really reflects the idea that folklore travels into all fields and this is an agreeable reason why it is always subject to variation.

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