USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘trust’
Folk speech
general
Proverbs

Long Handled Spoon

The informant was born and raised in Colorado. She all her life has used proverbs that her grandmother taught her to develop relationships. Her grandmother helped in assisting her by giving her proverbs to live by that apply to any situation and any human.

“feed them with a long handled spoon”

Informant…

“My grandma use to tell me Feed them with a Long Handled Spoon when she said this it was usually in regards to when I would have a fight with someone, if one of my friends really hurt my feelings, or even now while I am in my profession she will use it if I don’t necessarily like someone I am working with. It means, if someone does you wrong, you deal with them, you are still nice to them, but you don’t have to trust them anymore or let them get close to you. My grandma really was big on how people interact with each other and she thought that if someone was going to violate you and your trust, you keep them in front of you so they can’t stab you in the back again, you are still nice to them, and you deal with them when you have to, but you donut rust them enough to let them get close to you.”

Analysis…

When the informant was telling me her proverb, I could tell that she was excited to tell me about it and share with me what her grandmother had previously shared with her. This information the informant uses whenever she feels like she needs guidelines on how to act of how to feel she remembers the proverbs that her grandmother taught her and tries to apply them.

This proverb I connect with the proverbs keep your enemies in front of you and keep your enemies closer. I think that I associate the three because the al have something to do with people who have done you wrong or you don’t like for whatever reason. Differences that I can point our is the informants proverb says if anyone wrongs you to keep them at a distance and don’t allow them to have a chance to be close to you. Whereas the keep your enemies closer that I mention says to keep the people who have wronged you closer than anyone else. They are different because one thinks you should let them no where near you because they will wrong you again and the other believes you should keep them close so the won’t wrong you again. The point of both of these is trying to generate a way to prevent enabling harm to yourself from others but from two different perspectives. The informant’s proverb is similar to keep your enemies in front of you because then they can’t stab you in the back again, so it is protecting yourself without being close to someone who has wronged you. I was glad that I was able to make sense of this proverb and have my own thought process behind it.

 

general
Proverbs

Bones

The informant was born and raised in Colorado. She all her life has used proverbs that her grandmother taught her to develop relationships. Her grandmother helped in assisting her by giving her proverbs to live by that apply to any situation and any human.

A dog that brings a bone takes a bone

Informant…

When I was a lot younger and still in my adolescent years, I would try and keep up with the latest drama and gossip. I was all in his business or her business and always had the latest gossip. So and so would tell me something about someone and I would talk to my grandma like oh so and so said that she’s been doing a,b,c and my grandma would respond with A dog that brings a bone, takes a bone. At first the didn’t really mean much to me, I had to experience it on my own to have a full understanding of what she meant. A dog that takes a bone brings a bone to me means that if someone is coming to you with gossip, they are going to leave with something about you and talk about you to other people the same way the were talking to you about so and so. I just always have kept this in the back of my mind when someone is gossiping  about someone else to me. I realize that if i egg in that conversation, there might be something that I said that would give the person a bone to run off with. I guess what I get from this is be aware of conversations you engage in and how much you trust to tell people.”

Analysis…

A dog that brings a bone takes a bone. I haven’t heard this before, so it is new to me. When to informant was explaining it to me I think she could sense my confusion probably by my facial expression and thankfully she continued to elaborate until she thought I could make sense of it. I think this just goes along with the proverbs about being careful who you trust and spend your time around. Not everyone in this world has good intentions and I think that in informant’s grandmother kew that and she was wise enough to share them with her granddaughter to hopefully help her in life. A dong that brings a bone takes a bone puts an all new perception of people and relationships into my head. It makes sense that a gossip who gossips to you is most likely gossiping about you, so it is important to choose carefully who you also yourself to be around.

Folk speech
Proverbs

Trust, but Verify

Form of Folklore:  Folk Speech (Proverb)

 Informant Bio:  The informant was born and raised in Yerevan, Armenia until 1990, when he and his family moved to the United States, at the age of forty two.  In his youth, he had been exposed to folklore founded in Armenian, Russian, and Greek culture.  Even though he now lives in America, he is surrounded by a tight net community composed of people who speak Armenian or Russian and come from a background similar to his own.  As a result, most of the folklore he knows is mainly based on his cultural upbringing.

Context:  The interview was conducted in the living room of informant’s house in the presence of his wife and mother-in-law.

Item:    Russian Transliteration – Doveryai, no proveryai.

English Translation – Trust, but verify.

Informant Comments:  The informant learned this proverb from his grandmother.  He believes it is something people should live by.  Trusting people is an important part of life but if people trust everyone blindly, they could get hurt very quickly and frequently.  This is why people should verify the actions of the people they are trusting to see if that person is worthy of the trust given him.  Verifying is simply security.

Analysis:  This proverb was originated by Russian leader Vladimir Lenin.  The problem with this proverb is that it is based on the idea that trust can exist when one is verifying the actions of the person they claim to trust.  The fact that one is verifying the actions of another is proof of a lack of trust.  This proverb make more sense if it was “Tolerate, but verify”.  The tolerance would imply civility and verifying would be a pleasant way of checking up on those who are being tolerated.  Trust implies far more than tolerance; verification cannot coexist with trust.

Annotation:  This proverb was famously used by President Ronald Reagan when he met Russia’s General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and signed the INF Treaty.  A transcript with the proverb being used can be found in this archive:  http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1987/120887c.htm

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