The informant, J, is 18 years old born and raised in Coachella, California. His mom is from Delano, California, while his dad is from Indio, California. He is majoring in Print and Digital Journalism with a Media, Economics, and Entrepreneurship minor. He also considers himself Mexican.
J-“My family really likes proverbs and saying. We many times have arguments through just proverbs. One of them is ‘mas sabe el Diablo por Viejo que por diablo’(more knows the devil for age than for devil)”
What does that mean to you?
J-“It means that older people have more wisdom since they have gone through more. They have more experience”
When would you use this?
J-“It is mainly used by parents on their children when the child argues. They tell them that to tell them that they know what’s best because they have already experienced something like that”
Do you use it?
J-“I rarely use it since I am not that old, but I do tell it to my younger siblings when they argue with my parents or even sometimes when they argue with me”
Analysis- The proverb shows that the Mexican culture is one that respects its elders and that has high respect for them since they are the ones with the wisdom. They also like to test their wisdom and ability through all the different proverbs that they have. The family is even teaching the young children by telling them the proverbs and using them on them.
The informant is a first generation Mexican-American student. She said that she spends a decent amount of time in Mexico still (she usually visits a couple weekends during the school year and goes for slightly longer periods during the summer). She visits a lot of family in Mexico, including her grandma, a lot of cousins, and aunts and uncles. She learned this proverb from one of her uncles during these visits.
The informant said that the first time she remembers hearing this proverb is when she was a young child and was talking incessantly about pokemon. Her uncle said it to her and she said he essentially meant, “shut up, kid.” Since then, she says that she and others use it to let someone know they are being too long-winded.
En boca cerrada, no entran moscas
In a closed mouth, flies do not enter.
The informant found this proverb very funny and she seemed eager to pass it on to me, so that she can now say it to me in Spanish and I’ll know what it means, even though I don’t speak Spanish. I think she desires to perform this proverb so badly because it allows her to say something kind of rude to the people she cares about, but in a playful way, so that it is hard for the person to get mad. She also seems to use it to identify with her Mexican roots and her close connection with her family in Mexico. This is something they apparently all say to each other.
The informant is a first generation Mexican-American student. She said that she spends a decent amount of time in Mexico still (she usually visits a couple weekends during the school year and goes for slightly longer periods during the summer). She visits a lot of family in Mexico, including her grandma, a lot of cousins, and aunts and uncles. Outside of Mexico itself, she has a lot of Mexican friends from growing up in the Los Angeles area.
The informant described to me the first time she remembered hearing this proverb. She was talking with one of her friends (who is also Mexican) about her some problems she was having in her long distance relationship and her friend responded with this phrase. The informant described her friend’s tone as somewhat joking, but with real sentiment behind it. She said that she heard that phrase countless more times during the 9 months she was still in that relationship from various other Mexican friends and relatives.
Amor de lejos amor de pendejos
Love from a distance is love for idiots
This proverb was obviously more significant to the informant because she was actually in a long distance relationship and this is something people would say to her quite often. I also thought it was interesting how this proverb seemed to lose something in translation. The original spanish rhymes and has a good flow to it, where the english phrase is somewhat awkward. I asked the informant if she would say this phrase to me in English (I don’t speak spanish) and she said that she would probably just avoid using the proverb if she couldn’t say it in spanish because “it won’t sound the same.” In this way, the proverb is a way of connecting her to fellow spanish speaking people
Lo Que Menos Puedes Ver, En Tu Casa Lo Haz de Tener
“’Lo que menos pudes ver, en tu casa lo haz de tener’ se refiere a un refran que dice que no es bueno admirarse de la demas gente porque uno nunca sabe. Por ejemplo, si yo ando a dice y dice que hay unas chamacas bien locas que ni le hasen caso a sus padres, por andar de habladora, alomejor hasta mis hijas me salgan asi. Por eso es major mantener la boca cerrada porque como dicen, en boca cerrada, no entran moscas… este refran me acuerdo que lo desia mucho mi mama, no estoy segura si fue de ella en que lo escuche por primera vez pero se que ella lo usaba mucho tambien. Tambien he escuchado esa frase mucho en las telenovelas, alomejor se deve a que es una frase muy comun para nosotros.”
“’What you can least tolerate, you shall have it in your home’ refers to a proverb that states that it’s not good to talk about other people because you never know. For example, if I’m going around talking and talking that there are girls who are really crazy who don’t even listen o their parents, for being a big mouth, my daughters may end up being like that as well. That’s why it’s better to keep your mouth shut because as they say, in a closed mouth, no bugs go in… I heard this proverb from my mother who used to say it a lot. I’m not sure if I first heard it from her but I do know she used it a lot. I’ve also heard this phrase a lot in Spanish soap operas, maybe this is because it really if a very common phrase among us.”
My informant is a native of Guadalajara Mexico. She was born and raised there until the age of 16 which was when she migrated to the US. She is now 42 years of age and has 6 kids of various ages. Even though she has lived most of her life in the US, she still maintains strong ties with her Mexican heritage through her mother. She is really attached to her mother and therefore most of the things she has learned have been passed on by her mother. She is now also sharing her knowledge with her oldest children and continues to bestow Mexican culture among all her children. Since she migrated to the US she has focused on working and after getting married, to being a housewife. She has not had any formal institutional education, so most of her knowledge comes from others in her daily life.
It was interesting to collect this particular proverb because even though I’m not from Guadalajara, people in Zacatecas, from where my roots come from, also use this phrase a lot. This goes to show that some phrases aren’t necessarily original to one specific place, it can be homogenous to several locations. Furthermore, commonalities among different groups can help bring people together which is why I was able to get along so well with my informant.
El Que Madruga, Dios Lo Ayuda
“El que madruga dios lo ayuda translates into the English saying, early bird catches the worm or something like that. But for us, we don’t use birds or worms, we use god, haha… anyway, this is a saying that just about anyone uses so that people are on time but I think since it used the word ‘God’ it may have be made so that we get up early to go to church I guess. Anyway, I heard this all the time from everyone, especially my mother who wanted me to be up at the crack of dawn doing chores and stuff and now I too catch myself telling my daughters the same thing. I guess since it was so common in my life growing up that I now use it in my own vocabulary.”
My informant is a 41 year old Mexican descendant who was born in Mexico but has lived in the USA for the most part of her life. She maintains most of her ties to her Mexican culture while living in the USA so therefore, most of the things she knows has been passed down by her mother and other relatives. She does not necessarily learn her “cures” for different thing via a specific book or other published material, but rather from relatives in her daily life.
In my opinion, this is a very interesting proverb because it uses a concept that is similar to another culture yet makes it its own to mean the same thing. In other words, the proverb when said in Spanish directly refers to the culture’s religion and in English it refers to its surroundings yet when translated, they essentially mean the same thing. So even though the proverbs use completely different similes, the idea is the same. This is fascinating because one can see how one’s culture can determine how one explains a similar situation.