USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Cuban Proverb’
Proverbs

Agua Que No Vas a Beber Déjala Correr

Cuban culture in general is incredibly vibrant and colorful. With recent tourism to Cuba rising, foreigners often underestimate how vibrant the buildings, cars, and clothes are in Cuba. And this powerful expression also transfers over into language and proverbs. Although the Cuban diaspora is widespread, our vernacular holds us together. When visiting home recently, my aunt and grandmother came over to share proverbs and common Cuban vernacular with me.

One such proverb is: “Agua Que No Vas a Beber Déjala Correr”. Phonetically, it’s easy to pronounce since it utilizes the same Latin alphabet.

This is Cuban proverb was told to me by my aunt, who’s heard it all her life whether in public or at home. As a native speaker, I’ve heard this proverb a lot while growing up but did not know what it really meant until my aunt explained it. When literally translated, it reads “Water you don’t drink, you should let run.” My aunt explained that the original context means that if an issue does not concern you, you let it be; like water flowing down a stream it is not important to you at all. Sometimes it’s worse, the proverb posits, to become muddled in someone else’s problems. If one tries to solve the problems of another, the one with the problem won’t grow as a result and the situation can become much worse as a result of the intervening. So everyone for themselves, y’all.

Proverbs

El Camaron que se Duerma se lo Lleva la Corriente

Cuban culture in general is incredibly vibrant and colorful. With recent tourism to Cuba rising, foreigners often underestimate how vibrant the buildings, cars, and clothes are in Cuba. And this powerful expression also transfers over into language and proverbs. When visiting home recently, my aunt and grandmother came over to share proverbs and common Cuban vernacular with me.

One such proverb is: “El Camaron que se Duerma se lo Lleva la Corriente”. Phonetically, it’s easy to pronounce since it utilizes the same Latin alphabet.

My aunt knows about this proverb because when they were growing up in Puerto Rico, my grandfather was a constant example of hard work: he became very wealthy in Cuba, lost it to Castro, and gained it back again in both the US and Puerto Rico. When literally translated it says “The sleeping shrimp is taken by the current”, meaning that if not attentive or on top of things, one does not have control. It’s generally a good proverb to know as a reminder for one to continue her studies. It was a constant reminder for my aunt to work hard and be on top of her priorities; a value that was instilled into her and her sisters and eventually down to me and my cousins.

As my aunt mentioned this proverb, my mom, who was also in the room, yelled “Yes, someone needs to tell this chiquito this” (meaning me) because I’m super lazy and need to be more on top of things. Now that my mom was reminded of this proverb, I don’t think I’ll hear the end of it.

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