Author Archives: Sofia Reynoso

Cowboy Riddle

Main Piece:

Riddle-

“A cowboy came town on Friday

He stayed for two days

And left on Wednesday

How is this possible?”

Answer-

“His horse’s name is Friday.”

Context and Analysis:

The informant claims she heard this riddle in her early childhood as she was watching the television show, iCarly. She claims when she heard it she was very excited and remembered it to tell her family later. When she told her family they were not able to decipher the answer and therefore the informant knew this was a good riddle. The informant claims she does not know of any meaning in this riddle nor does she think it originates from a particular place. She believes it could have originated anywhere as all places could have cowboys and horses.  The informant believes this riddle is only for entertainment purposes.

When my informant first said to me this riddle I was shocked by my inability to decipher it. My first thought was that the riddle was a play on the week’s days, and I began to try to find a way in which I could go through the week with Wednesday occurring before Monday. I was unsuccessful in this attempt. After that I began to think of transportation methods that could travel fast through time; once again I was unsuccessful. I eventually gave up and begged my informant for the answer. When she said it to me, I thought to myself, “how did I not think of that.” This is not an unusual feeling when trying to come up with a solution and after giving up realizing how simple it was. I think this is what can make riddles so frustrating or fascinating. Often the answer to the riddle is simple, and when the riddle’s audience is unable to guess it, this can cause frustration for the audience and fascination for the person recounting the riddle.

There also seems to be a requirement for a riddle to be hard to guess but to have a simple answer to be distinguished as a good riddle. The most popular riddles are those that leave people thinking about them, how they were unable to guess the answer and are now only able to find joy in sharing this unsatisfied feeling with others by retelling this riddle. If the riddle is guessed or the audience has heard it before often the one recounting the riddle is disappointed at not having been able to make others feel what he or she felt by not being able to guess the riddle.

Two are needed for a fight – Mexican Proverb

Main Piece:

“Se necesitan dos para hacer un pleito.”

Transliteration:

Needed two to make a conflict

Translation:

Two are needed for a fight

Background:

Informant

Nationality: Mexican

Location: Guadalajara, Mexico

Language: Spanish

Context and Analysis:

I got this proverb from my informant a 49-year-old male. My informant says he does not recall when he first heard this saying. However, he is a firm believer in it. The informant notes that ever since he first heard this phrase, he has followed it every time he is in a situation where it applies. The informant claims this proverb has allowed him to escape from many situations that could have become problematic. He explains how when you don’t fight back there is no conflict because the other person is less inclined to argue with someone who is not arguing in return.

After hearing this proverb, I was surprised at how much truth I found in it. In most of my experiences when I argue with someone, it is because they are arguing in return. Most people like to win, so in an argument naturally, both parties arguing will not stop until a “winner” is determined. If this desire to win is eliminated by one of the parties forfeiting the argument for the sake of peace the second party will not have to continue fighting to win. I think this is an admirable quality of the person following the proverbs advice.

However, I also believe there are good things that come from arguments. There are different types of arguments, discussion being one of them. In a discussion, everyone gets a chance to voice their opinion giving many diverse outlooks on a topic or to develop an idea. If this discussion were not in place, it would be harder to find the most effective solution to a problem. By having this discussion, it is the quickest way to form a solution to a problem and motivate many to learn about a specific topic. For example, in a classroom setting by discussing a text the students learn about it through the perspective of their peers. This makes them more knowledgable about all of the text’s components. It is much harder for one student to read a text and understand every part of it, but if he discusses, in most situations, he will learn something new about the same text.

When considering this proverb, it is vital to understand its truthful nature. However, one must also have criteria to evaluate where it should or should not be employed

Performing Good Deeds Blindly-Mexican Proverb

Main piece:

“Haz el bien y no mires a quien”

Transliteration:

Do the  good and don’t look at who

Translation:

Perform good deeds blindly despite the outcomes

Background:

Informant

Nationality: Mexican

Location: Guadalajara, Mexico

Language: Spanish 

Context and Analysis:

I asked my Informant, a 74-year-old female if she knew of any sayings that have stuck with her throughout her life. My informant recounted to me this saying claiming it is one she strives to live by. She does not know where she first heard this proverb. However, she speculates it was while she was at church. My informant reports she attends mass once or twice a week. The informant says the proverb emphasizes doing a good deed while expecting nothing in return. She states this proverb reminds her that she should selflessly help others. 

I agree with my informant’s interpretation of this proverb. I think the saying emphasizes performing a good deed. I also believe the proverb puts emphasis on the value of not expecting anything in return when doing a good deed. When someone does something kind for others, they should do so out of the kindness of their heart, not for a reward. 

As I continued to analyze the proverb I also found it could also be telling its audience not to look for other’s reassurance that they are a good person by performing a good deed. An example of this would be, placing money in the offerings basket during a Catholic Mass Service. Many people only do so because they believe others are watching them and will judge them if they don’t do so. However, this is something that should be done out of each individuals willingness to contribute despite what others might or might not think of them.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf- Children Story

Main piece: 

“There was a boy who was a shepherd. The boy would get very bored watching the sheep all day, so he decided to yell out that there was a wolf amongst the sheep one day. All the villagers came in a hurry to find out that there was no wolf. The next day the shepherd boy did it again. And the villagers came running, only to find that once again there was no wolf. On the third day, the shepherd boy was watching the sheep, and a wolf came. The boy yelled out to the villagers, ‘there is a wolf! Help! there is a wolf!’ but this time no one believed him, and the wolf ate all of his sheep.”

Context and Analysis:

My informant is a 21-year-old female. I asked her to narrate to me a commonly known story she is familiar with. The informant narrated to me the story of the “Boy Who Cried, Wolf.” She claims this was a bedtime story told to her when she was a child. My informant believes the message of this story is that “if you lie people will catch on to it and then they will not believe anything you say ever, even if it is true.”

I agree with my informant’s interpretation of the story. The story of The Boy Who Cried wolf is often used to teach children about the dangers of lying. The story follows the plot of a boy playing around with the kindness of the village and the sense of community that made them reach out to help when the boy was in danger. Because of this when the boy was actually in danger, the villagers no longer believed him and did not come out to help. I think this story also emphasizes the fragility of community awareness and support. Most communities are known for caring for one another and wanting to help other members of that community, however, this bond takes work on both sides. Each member of the community must participate in making it strong. By tricking the village, the boy broke this bond and therefore he was excluded from the community. I think many times people take these communities for granted and do not put in what they are getting from it. This story does not just warn about the dangers of lying, but also about preserving the trust within a community.

I think the use of three is also important to note as it is a prominent number in storytelling. The boy cries out to the villagers three times. Having a trio creates a pattern making the story more memorable and emphasizes an idea. 

Three Little Piggies- Bedtime Story

Main piece:

“There is the story about the three little pigs. They are brothers and there is a lazy lazy one, a lazy one, and a hard-working one. They build three houses. Each one builds one house, all out of different materials. One of them built it really quick and was like ‘yeah whatever’, the other one worked a bit harder, but not super hard, and the last one worked really really hard on it and made it out of bricks. When the big bad wolf came the house of the super lazy pig that made it out of straws and sticks blew off, and the other sorta lazy pig’s house also blew off, the only house that protected them was the house made out of bricks.”

 

Context and Analysis:

I asked my informant a 21-year-old female if she recalled any folk stories. The informant narrated to me the story of the “Three Little Pigs.” She claims this was a bedtime story told to her when she was a child. She believes the story speaks to the rewards of doing hard work and applying dedication. The informant identifies a lot with the story for her dad was a very charismatic storyteller, so as a child she was very invested in the lives of the little piggies and this story really stuck with her. She remembers her feeling of terror vividly knowing the wolf was approaching the houses of the first two piggies and they were going to blow away. The informant explains how having this story be such a large part of her childhood has taught her hard work and dedication. She will forever remember the hard work the third pig put into his house and the rewards that came from it.

I too remember hearing a version of this story as a child and agree with my informant on the interpretation. There are many versions of the story, but the meaning ultimately remains the same. The story emphasizes the rewards of hard work. The first two pigs did not do a good job of building their houses, and because of this when the wolf came to test their houses they fell apart. The last pig worked really hard and put a lot of effort into building his house making it the only house left standing between the three pigs.  I believe this story is a great tale to teach children about the value of hard work. 

By having the middle pig who did not do a bad job, but didn’t do a good job I think the story also addresses mediocrity. If the middle pig had put in a bit more work into building his house, it would have probably been successful in protecting him from the wolf. This highlights the importance of following through and putting in the full effort as opposed to just “good enough.”  

The use of animals makes the story more entertaining for children because it adds a sense of fantasy and simplicity by using non-human characters. Non-human characters are more relatable and flexible as a tool for storytelling because the author can make them do whatever he pleases. Having pigs be the main characters also makes the kids more invested in the story since talking pigs with houses are unusual and new to them. I think the use of three is also important to note as it is a prominent number in storytelling. Having a trio creates a pattern making the story more memorable and emphasizes an idea. 

 

 

Waking up earlier will not make the sun rise sooner – Mexican Proverb

Main Piece:

“No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano.”

 Transliteration: 

Not much early rises earlier.

Translation:

Waking up earlier will not make the sun rise sooner.

 Background:

Informant

Nationality: Mexican

Location: Guadalajara, Mexico

Language: Spanish

Context and Analysis:

The informant is a 78-year-old male. I asked the informant if he had any sayings, legends, or superstitions he would like to share. The informant smiled and simply said, “No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano.” I asked him what this proverb means to him and if he knew where he had first heard it. The informant went on to tell me about his first assignment as a newly graduated civil engineer on his first solo project. He was so eager to impress his boss that he told his second in command to meet him at the construction site at 5:00 am. Despite multiple attempts his partner made to try to convince him otherwise, my informant claims not to have listened and reprimanded him for being lazy. The next morning when they arrived at 5:00 am the sun had not risen and there was no light. They had to wait two more hours until they could begin working. As they waited my informant’s partner said to him, “No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano.” 

This proverb speaks to the importance of timing. It is often understood that by getting to a particular place early or rising earlier it will lead to more efficiency. A popular proverb representative of this is, ‘the early bird gets the worm’. However, not enough is said to finding the right time. As my informant claims it is important to pay attention to one’s surroundings and gain context before making a decision as opposed to blindly following what one thinks is right. One cannot control every variable in life; sometimes it is more valuable to let nature take its course and adapt to the situation. By doing this, a person is more effective than if they are trying to fight the flow of life wasting energy by attempting to control every variable.