Customs
Folk speech
Proverbs

El Salvadorean Proverb

I went home for dinner. During a conversation with my mom, she mentioned the following:

Proverb

“Ponte Las Pilas.” translated to “Put You Batteries [On].”

I then asked my mom what that meant, she responded:

“Ponte las pilas means ponte las pilas. It means to put on your batteries but I always say it to remind you guys to work hard, be alert, and be attentive. The whole statement is used as a quick pick me up, or like a mini motivational speech. Ponte las pilas is a way for me to remind you and your sister to be more responsible, to get up, and to go get what you want. That’s how I use it. Some people use it differently. I’ve heard it been used like lets say you have a couple and the boyfriend isn’t giving the girlfriend enough attention then you’d say ‘Ponte las pilas’ like ‘Hey, be more attentive or someone may steal her’.”

Collector Analysis:

At this point, this proverb is ingrained into my mom’s brain. She was raised listening to this proverb. I have heard my grandma say it in the past, and my grandma has definitely said the proverb to me as well. This proverb is very generational, as my grandma told my mom and now, my mom has told my sister and I. To my mom, this proverb is obviously a way of telling my sister and I to work harder. She believes that just saying “work harder” is too blunt and that no one would listen. ‘Ponte las pilas’ is a more generous way of saying “get it together”.

Just like my mom, I have been hearing this proverb my entire life. I have heard it for a wide array of reasons. Normally, if I am complaining to my mom about how much school work I have she’ll merely respond, “ponte las pilas”. Another circumstance is if I’ve been in bed all day, my mom might come into the room and say the proverb. This proverb is the type of statement I’ll probably hear or say for the rest of my life.

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