Folk speech
Proverbs

Proverb-Lebanese/Syrian

“So my grandmother used to have a saying, “if you spit in the wind, you’ll get it back in the face,” um because she never wanted us to speak poorly of other people or say anything disrespectful or rude, so that was her saying.”

Informant: The informant is a Catholic mother of five, of Syrian descent. She is from Kinder, Louisiana, where she grew up in a large family.

Analysis:

This saying highlights the Catholic traditions of the informant and her family. In a stringently Catholic family, the way in which one treats another is especially important, as they are taught to love everyone as themselves. This saying exemplifies this Christian teaching, but also seems to have the influence of the Hindu tradition of karma. Although to the informant, the meaning is simplistic in that they shouldn’t speak poorly of others, the aspect of karma comes from “you’ll get it back in the face.” To me, this means that not only should I not speak poorly of others, but if I were to do so, I would feel the repercussions from my actions.

The proverb is also interesting in its literal interpretation. As this saying may also have originated from a region in which the weather conditions allowed for strong winds. If this were the case, then the saying in that context would have a sensible literal interpretation. If one were to actually spit into the wind, the spit would most likely return and strike them in the face. Therefore, the context and the literal sense of this proverb convey the message of not being rude so that one might avoid embarrassing or harsh repercussions because of the things that one says. This saying, as the informant learned it from her mother, could have been passed down through generations even if the weather conditions are not the same, and may continue, due to the fact that the underlying message is apparent.

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