USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘behavior’
Folk Beliefs
folk metaphor
Folk speech
Proverbs

“Boys will be boys.”

My informant learned this saying from an old television show that he used to watch.  This saying has become part of his daily speech.  Almost every conversation he has includes his saying “boys will be boys” to the point that the person he is talking to is extremely puzzled.  He says it in situations in which they saying makes no logical sense, hence the confusion of the person he’s talking to.
My informant likes this saying for the irony and confusion.  He knows that it doesn’t make sense when he says it because he says it at the most random times.  When he says it, it somehow relates back to the conversation, but not necessarily.  It leaves people speechless because they don’t know how to respond.
For my informant, “boys will be boys” provides him with a sense of nostalgia because it reminds him of watching television as a child.  Because he learned the saying from watching a television show, the saying reminds him of childhood and the fun times he had as a child.
My interpretation of “boys will be boys” is quite different from his.  In his case, he says it for the sake of saying it.  I believe this saying represents how boys act, and many people interpret it this way as well.  This saying is a way of asserting that boys are stupid and immature.  Boys can act like complete idiots.  This saying is just a more polite way of explaining how boys can be.  I think that this saying is very useful in life when talking about boys.  It isn’t as harsh as saying how boys act.  By saying “boys will be boys,” people know what someone means without saying something in a blunt manner.

Folk speech
general
Proverbs

“When you are an anvil, bear, a hammer, strike.”

My mother, who says this proverb has a lot of significance for her as an adult, learned it from her father, who was a strict man with a tough work ethic and a Latin scholar. My mom’s family immigrated to the United States from Dominica when she was a kid and they were able to do so, because her father had saved up enough money to be deemed self-sufficient by US immigration. The meaning of this proverb is about timing, preparation, patience, thinking strategically and taking the right opportunities. When you are the anvil, you have to take the blow, because that is the position you are in. Basically, sometimes you have to pay your dues early on in order to be in a position to reap the reward later. Moving through life smartly means not striving for instant gratification. You have to wait, plan, and work hard for opportunities that may come in the future. Essentially, you must put yourself in a position to strike, so you are able to take opportunities when they manifest for you.

 

1. This was official quoted by Edwin Markham.

Translations from other languages:

2. If thou art an anvil then suffer: if a hammer, then strike.  Romanian

3. If you are an anvil be patient; if you are a hammer strike hard.  German

4. It is better to be the hammer than the anvil.  French

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