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Folk speech
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Proverbs

Proverb – El Salvador

“Machete estate en tu vaina y que nadie te desenvaine”

“Machete stay in your sheath and that nobody draws you out”

“Machete stay in you sheath and don’t let anyone provoke you out”

My mom told me that she learned this proverb when she was about 9 years old, while she was living in Cuscatancingo, El Salvador. She says that this proverb is mostly used to tell someone that they should relax, stay put and not intervene in someone else’s situation because they could end up making the situation worst. She told me that she probably first heard the proverb when one of her cousins was having relationship problems and her parents did not wanted her to intervene. The cousin was a lot older and my mom’s parents thought that any of her comments could make my cousin feel worst as the situation was very stressful. She believes that it means that sometimes it is better to not intervene, because that when one does, they might do more damage. My mom told me that some usual situations to use the proverb is when a married couple is having issues or when people are at a very fragile state with their feeling, others should try to stay away as bad comments could damage the other person.

I agree with my mom with the meaning of this proverb. The fact that is comparing a person to a machete indicates that the person could do a lot of damage if it is let loose. A machete is a common tool in the country side of El Salvador, and it is usually maintain really sharp so it can cut through anything. In order to maintain the surrounding safe from accidents, the machete should be kept inside its sheath; and that is exactly what the proverb is saying. In order to not make any damages to anybody who is weak, others should keep their blade (bad comments) away. This proverb is great advices to people that do not know what do to in some stressful situations. Ands this is true, many times I have been ready to comment on someone that is dealing through a lot of problem, but I have been stopped by a friend because they know that sometimes is better to stay put and just let the person know that you are there for them if they need you.

general
Legends
Narrative

Legend – El Salvador

La leyenda dice que cerca de los rios, aparecia una mujer con un pelo muy largo y grandes pechos. Bien chichuda. Esta mujer se tiraba carcajadas, se reia constantemente. El proposito de ella es asustar a los hombres y las mujeres. Pero lo mas importante de ella es que atraia los hombres, solteros y casados, porque se miraba muy

hermosa. La persona que se la acercaba y la tocaba, se volvia loca. La gente salia corriendo cuando oian la risa.

Legend says that near the rivers, a woman would appear with long hair and big breast. She had huge boobs. This woman would laugh constantly. Her main purpose was to scare men and women. But, the most important trait of hers was that she attracted men, single and married, by her beauty. The person that would get close to her and touch her would become crazy. People would run away when they heard the laughter

My mom told me that she learned this legend from his parents when she was about 8 years old. She told me that this legend is very common and that most kids learn it from their parents. Parents would tell them the legend because they really believe she exists and also they did not wanted their kids becoming insane because they went near La Siguanaba. She used to live in a town in El Salvador called Cuscatancingo and there is a river near the town. She told me that she also believes that La Siguanaba exist although she has never witness her in person. She has heard stories of her friends or relatives that have seen her. One of her friend’s uncles was mentally ill and they blamed la Siguanaba. She told me that before, the uncle was a normal guy and one day he became insane when he was by the river. She is certain that La Siguanaba exist.

I believe that this is just a made up character and she does not actually exist. She is made to be very beautiful in order to attract the male sex mostly. I think that there is a lesson here although not many people noticed they are applying it. The legend says that she attracts males and that if they come close to her, they become insane. The lesson portrayed here is that men tend to be attracted to beautiful woman but they should beware and not get close just because she is pretty, she can turn out to be harm in life. Also, if the person is married, that would assume that he could be a potential cheater and that is bad to cheat. I believe that she is laughing constantly to portrayed that cheating first seem to be a happy and exciting life, but it could in fact lead to disaster. I have heard other versions of the story and she appears to always be wearing white or light colors. I believe wearing the light colors make more impact as she is assumed to be by the river and is bathing and men could see through her dress, attracting them more to get close to her. I think this legend is told for many reasons. First of all, it is very interesting. Secondly, it was a method for protecting children from danger by telling them no to be careful when they are buy the river. And Lastly, I believe it is told to scare men out of cheating. Although it is a very interesting legend I still believe that she does not exists.

Folk speech
general
Proverbs

Proverb – El Salvador

“Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres”

“Tell who you are with and I will tell you who you are”

“Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are”

My dad told me that he learned this proverb when he was about eleven years old. He said that this proverb is mostly used to tell people that they get associated with the people they are around. This proverb is used to teach kids that they need to careful when choosing their friends and stay away from bad people because they might get confused as being bad. My dad told me that it is usually told to kids when they are hanging around bad people. Parents and other adults say the proverb to indicate that they could easily be mistaken of being bad. He first heard the proverb when he was spending time with older kids who liked to cause some trouble around the neighborhood. They would be loud and play jokes on other people. His parents told him to watch out and to become a better person. He also told me that it is a great proverb as it teaches you to become more careful with your decisions.

I agree with my dad with the meaning of this proverb. I think that this is a great lesson to teach anyone. If you do not want to be mistaken as a bad influence, you should not be around bad people. In other words, surround yourself around winners and you will become a winner. The proverb indicates that I can tell you who you are, just by knowing who you friends are. I have also seen this proverb being used here in the United States. I remember when people would tell me that I should be around good influences and follow their example in order to succeed and to stay away from bad influences. This is a great lesson and so it is found in El Salvador, other Hispanic countries and the United States. I was able to find this proverb written in a Mexican proverb dictionary.

Annotation: Glazer, Mark. A Dictionary of Mexican American Proverbs. New York: Greenwood Press: 1987. Page xiv

Folk speech
general
Proverbs

Proverb – El Salvador

“En boca cerrada no entra mosca”

“In a close mouth a fly does not enter”

“A fly does not enter a close mouth”

My dad told me that he learned this proverb when he was about ten years old. He learned it from his parents while living in San Salvador, El Salvador. He told me that this proverb is used to tell people that in some situations is better to keep quiet than to say anything. He first heard the proverb when his mother was telling him that he should not backtalk to his teacher at school, and if he ever backtalk he would get in so much trouble. His mother wanted him to remember that it is impossible for a fly to enter a close mouth. My dad agrees and likes the proverb. He told me that because of this proverb, he learned to keep his mouth shut in some situations, and this helped him get into fewer problems with his elders. He told me that the proverb should be told to people that are very talkative or have a tendency to say what they are not supposed to.

Like the proverb says, if one does not open their mouth, flies will not be able to enter and one will prevent problems. I do agree with this proverb. It shows a valuable lesson that in order to keep peace and don’t get in trouble, one should keep their mouth shut as much as possible. I have seen many example of this problem in today’s society. Most teenagers get in so much trouble when they argue the punishment given by their parents or teachers; they basically give themselves a harder/longer punishment. I have also experience this; one day, when I was in High school, I got a detention for a stupid thing I did. I started to complain and the teacher ended up giving me 1 hour worth instead of only 30 minutes. I did not keep my mouth shut and I brought myself more problems. This proverb is a great lesson for today’s youth as I think they are back talking more and more to their elders. This proverb is to encourage people to realize that sometimes they are provoking problem themselves by opening their mouths. I have only heard this proverb from my dad, but I did some research and was able to find that this proverb can be even be found on then other side of the Atlantic. This is a good lesson and has travel around the world; the book where I found the proverb is called the Dictionary of European Proverbs.

Annotation: this proverb can also be found in a Dictionaty of Eurpoean Proverbs.

Strauss, Emanuel. Dictionary of European Proverbs. New York: Routledge 1994. Page 73

general
Legends
Narrative

Legend – El Salvador

Me contaba mi madre, que cuando ella era una adolecente, vivia en un pueblo donde tambien vivia una persona llamada El Cipitio. El Cipitio es un joven que esta muy enamorado de todas las muchachas. A ella (tu abuela) le tiraba flores y la seguia. Pero no solo a ella, sino a todas las otra muchachas del pueblo.  A la joven que le hacia

caso, la combertia en una mujer muy rica. Pero cuando esa se enamorada de otro hombre, El Cipitio se enojaba y la dejaba en peor pobreza.

My mom would tell me that when she was a teenager, she lived in a town where there also lived a person called El Cipitio. He was a young man in love with all the ladies. He would throw flowers and would follow your grandma. But not only your grandma, he also followed all the teens from the town. To the girl that would pay attention to him, he would give riches, but when she would fall in love with another man, he would get mad and leave her in a worst financial situation.

My mom told me that her mother, my grandmother, first told her this legend when she was about nine or ten years old. At the time, they were living in Cuscatancingo, El Salvador. She told me that my grandma had told her that this really happen to her. She also told me that this is a common legend in the area where they were living. In other parts of El Salvador, people say that El Cipitio is the son of La Siguanaba, another Salvadoran legendary figure. She said that this legend is usually told to kids of her age because is an interesting story and to give the advice to girls to be aware and not to pay attention to strangers. She believes that he really exists and that he is the son of La Siguanaba.

I think I would have to agree with my mom with this legend. It is a very interesting story and I believe it is also telling an important lesson. The lesson that is being portrayed in this legend is that woman should be faithful to their partners and if they aren’t, bad things will happen. In this case, girls are being left in a worst financial situation than at the beginning. I think it is great that they are telling kids these stories early on, so whenever they start dating they can look back and make better decisions because they are going to remember what El Cipitio did to girls that betrayed him. The story can be used in today’s society; whenever a marriage fails, people now usually go to court and try to separate their financial property. If the wife cheated, we see men brining them to court and trying to get as much money and property as possible. This legend should still be told to kids as it is part of their culture and delivers an important message.

Folk speech
general
Proverbs

Idiom/Proverb – China

??

“Hypocritical – Contradictory”

“A spear and shield”

Shanling told me that she learned this Chinese idiom when she was in Chinese school in Denver, Colorado. She told me that it refers to a story well know in China about some person that was a hypocrite. The story is about a salesman from the past that sold weapons in China. One day he was advertising that he had a spear that could travel through anything, it was a perfect spear. Also, he had in his possession a perfect shield; the shield could stop any weapon that was launch at it. Someone asked the salesman what would happen if he threw the perfect spear into the perfect shield. He was stunned and did not answer the question. She told me that this salesman is a perfect example of a hypocrite. Shanling first heard the idiom form her mother. One example is when she got offered an internship at Boeing and was struggling whether she should take it or not. She wanted and needed the money but did not want to work for it; she just wanted to get money for doing nothing. Then her mother told her that she was being just like the salesman that sold a spear and shield. She thinks that this is a perfect lesson for students to learn and that the idiom is perfect to use when someone is a hypocrite.

I agree with Shanling with the use of this idiom. The Salesman is being a hypocrite as he is advertising two contrary perfect things. They can not both be perfect, if one shall use the perfect spear against the perfect shield one of them has to break and this will reveal the lies coming from the salesman. This is a great example how some people can be two-sided only to benefit themselves. This idiom can help people realized when they are being hypocrite. However, one needs to know the story in order to relate the two together. If the story is not known, the idiom will not make any sense. This idiom could probably only be told to people from China or people that are familiar with that Chinese story. Once, they know the story, making the connection between the salesman and hypocrisy will not be too complicated.

Folk speech
general

Idiom – China

“????”

“Frog at the bottom of the well”

Shanling told me that she learn this idiom from her mother. She first heard it in Denver, Colorado, but she thinks that her mom first heard it in China. She told me that there is a small story behind the idiom and that most Chinese people know the story. She said that there once was a frog that lived in the bottom of a well. He was all by himself and he thought that he ruled the Earth. One day, someone threw a bucket down and the frog was able to go up to the surface. Once he reach the top, he was able to see that he was not the ruler of the world and that there is a bigger world that yourself. She told me that this is usually told to people that are know-it-alls and don’t see the big picture. Shanling told me that her mom tells her this whenever she is full of herself and seems not to care about anything else.

I agree with Shanling’s definition to the idiom, if you do not stick your head out of the “well” you will be left out to believe that you are the most important thing in this world. This teaches us a good lesson that we should always try to be aware of our surrounding and situations that happen outside our reach. I think that the best situation to use the idiom is when people see themselves as kings in order to bring them down to reality. One good example of this can be seen in the performing shows like American Idol. Some people that are bad signers are from small cities and towns and they think they are the best singer. They are probably the best singers in their area but when they are brought to the big stage and put in front of real judges they hear reality for the first time. They do not accept the comments made by them and get mad at the show and at the judges. They need to come out of their small world and accept that they are not as good as they thought they were.

Folk speech
general
Proverbs

Proverb – China

????

“Green comes from Blue”

Shanling told me that she learned this proverb/idiom when she was in Chinese school in Denver, Colorado. She said that she first heard it when she was about 14 years old and was learning how to snowboard. According to Shanling, the proverb signifies when a pupil has surpasses his master at one activity. The master is symbolized by the color blue and the student by the color green. When a teacher (blue) has taught his knowledge to his pupil, the pupil will become like him so it becomes green. Also, according to Shanling, the color green is more beautiful according to Chinese culture so that is why it is said that the student has surpassed the master. One example that she gave me was when she was learning how to snowboard. She said that after just a couple of days of lessons from her friend she got so good that her friend told her that she might be better than her. She told me that her friend said that she learned quickly because “green come from blue.” She likes the idea that green is more beautiful than blue and that is why she think the proverb means that the pupil has surpassed the master.

I think I agree with Shanling to some details, but other details are no so clear. I do agree that green come from blue can be a good representation of a teacher – pupil situation. The teacher is giving knowledge to the student and this will shape the student to be more like the teacher. However, the part that I do not understand is why they are inquiring that the pupil has surpasses the master. In my opinion, the master stays as the dominant person because blue is a primary color while green is a secondary color. This proverb can be use in many situations nowadays. We have many situations where teachers are trying to shape students to become just like them, if not better. This happens not only intellectually but also in sports and politics. This proverb tells7 students that it they try hard enough they can become almost like their teacher and in some rare situations better than them.

general
Proverbs

Proverb – Vancouver, Canada

“A stitch in time saves nine”

Joanne told me that she learned this proverb from her mom who likes to saw and knit a lot. The first time she heard this proverb was when she was about eleven years of age and at that time she was living in Vancouver, Canada. She said that it is used to express that it is better to plan ahead and start early if there are signs of trouble instead of waiting for disaster to happen. She told me that her mom used to say this proverb to her to give her advice that some early work can go the extra mile. She also said that it is used to tell people that they should take care of a problem now instead of later when it might be too late. One example she gave me was when her mother’s friend had a small problem with her car. She heard her mother told the friend to have the car checked before it was too late. The friend did not reacted and she ended up paying a much higher price because of that.

This proverb has a special meaning for me as I always end up procrastinating and have to pay a higher price as a consequence. I have to agree with her meaning of the proverb as well. If one does not take care of problem in an early stage, when they are easier, they might have to work double or triple the amount to solve the same problem. For every one stitch that you not complete, you will have to do nine later on. This is a perfect proverb to be given to procrastinators; they have to see that putting minimal effort can help them a lot in the future. It can be said to many taxpayers that wait until the night of April 15 to do their taxes. If they had planned ahead and done some work earlier, they would not be in the whole they are now.

Annotation: this proverb can also be found in the online book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sewing.

Wills, Lydia. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sewing. Lynda Stephenson, Inc NetLibrary. Page 93

general
Legends
Narrative

Legend – Kelowna, Canada

The Legend of Ogo Pogo

I have heard people say that in the Okanagan Lake, Kelowna, BC Canada, there is a creature that is like a serpent and like a dragon. He lives way down in the caves of the deep water. It has been sighted for about 100 years, but I have never seen it. It is quite large; many people said that this creature is huge. Some people even describe him as being a cousin of the loch ness monster.

Joanne told me that this is a very common legend told around her town and other towns that surround the Okanagan Lake. She said that she first heard the legend recently after moving to Kelowna. She told me that the legend is usually told to tourist of the lake and the area in order to increase tourism. There are also some statues of what the creature is portrayed in a surrounding park. She says that although she has not seen it she still believes that the creature exists and she also believes that the loch ness monster exist as well. They are creatures that are strong and have survived all these years.

Although, it is an interesting legend I would have to say that I think that it is not true. I think that someone that had visited Loch Ness or knew about Loch Ness monster saw an animal or a creature in the Canandian and thought that he saw the same familiar monster. This legend is very familiar to the Loch Ness monster and it might have just migrated to this area, it is just an oicotype of the Loch Ness monster. The reason why I think that this monster is not real is that the first sighting was later than the Loch Ness monster and it just borrowed the idea, it was not really sighted. Other than that, I am sure that they are using this legend in order to attract some tourist and give the lake a little more personality.

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