Author Archives: Austin Taylor

Proverb – Pamplona, Spain

Proverb-Barking Dog

“Perro Ladrador, poco mordedor”

“Barking dog, bites little”

“The dog that barks a lot usually bites too little.”

Pablo told me that he learned this proverb from his mother when he was just a child. He learned in his hometown of Pamplona, Spain although it was used elsewhere throughout the country. This proverb is very famous in Spain and many teachers and students say it within schools too. He said this proverb is often said whenever there is an argument between people. He said it explains how usually, the person in the argument that raises their voice the fastest will not start an actual fight. Instead, they are just trying to sound tougher than they actually are by arguing in a powerful voice. A good example of when to use this proverb, he said, is whenever a friend or someone you know is trying to act tough, although you know they aren’t. He says his mother uses this whenever he tries to talk back to her, because she knows that she is in charge of him.

Pablo agrees with the proverb because it shows how individuals use arguing to make them appear to be someone they are not. Most people that have convincing arguments do not need to raise their voices to get their point across. The ones who don’t, however, feel as if they need to yell in order to make people believe them. The people who argue consistently are obnoxious as they do not have any real aggression inside of him. He said that people who are the fighting type do not have to raise their voices to intimidate their opponent. Instead, their physical aggression and appearance is proof enough. Pablo likes to use this saying whenever someone is trying to be someone he or she is not, because usually, the person who yells the loudest doesn’t have any proof to back it up.

I agree with Pablo’s interpretation of the argument and do believe that it represents hypocrites. If someone is trying to bark the loudest in order to prove his point, that means that he is unsure of his argument and believes that a convincing voice will make others believe him. Therefore, the person has no argument and is a hypocrite as he tries to make him appear tougher than he really is. I think that you can use this argument daily as there are many people that try to convince others to believe them simply through their voices. This proverb represents the friends who say all they can before the fight erupts, but quietly sneak way when it actually happens.


Joke: Doctor

“This guy was a doctor, who was very successful, very independent, and gave a lot of money to charities. Well he died one day and he went to heaven, and was looking forward to getting into heaven. But, he saw this great big line waiting at the white, pearly gates. So, he got in line and was looking at the people ahead of him and he noticed some of his former patients, and he saw others that he thought were vagrants. He kind of thought to himself, well gee, I’ve done so much for mankind in helping people, I don’t think I should have to wait to get into heaven. He walks up to the front of the line there and Saint Peter is at the gate. And he said to Saint Peter, he went and told him about his life on Earth, and Saint Peter says ‘well yeah, I’m well aware of that, however, we have a rule that everyone has to wait in line based on when they die.’ So the doctor goes back to the line, not really satisfied. So, he’s watching the line slowly decrease when he sees this guy in a white smock, a stethoscope lying around his neck, a headband with a reflector on it walk up to Saint Peter and then walk right in to Heaven through the white pearly gates. Quite obviously, this guy was a doctor so the man was a little upset with Peter. He asked him, ‘how come you told me that nobody could get ahead of anyone else and you let that doctor go through the pearly gates.’ And Saint Peter says ‘ohhh haha that’s not a doctor, that’s God, he just thinks he’s a doctor.”

Terry explained to me that he learned this joke through one of his longtime friends in a phone conversation. He said that whenever he and his friend speak to each other, they usually start off their conversation by telling a good, clean joke. Terry was unsure of where his friend may have heard the joke but assumed that it had it been passed down from a family member. He said his friend occasionally will tell jokes that his parents and grandparents had told him years earlier. When I asked him when he performs this joke, he said that he usually will tell it in a social gathering amongst friends and family. He believed that it was an appropriate joke for people of his age because they do not want to hear as he termed “crude” jokes like many of today’s youth. He said that a good example of telling this joke would be at a dinner group because it is funny, simple, and meaningful.

When Terry performed this joke, he used much enthusiasm in the different voices for each character. When I asked him why he used these voices for the different characters, he said it added spunk to the joke and it helped keep audience members entertained. He said the key to telling this joke is to be passionate about it so that the listeners will enjoy it as much as he does. He said that this joke is especially nice for ice breakers whenever he is meeting people and needs something interesting to open up the conversation. He also that the joke helps continues conversations as well. Whenever a conversation is starting to dwindle, this joke will help keep the person on the other side of the conversation entertained. Therefore, they will be able to continue to their discussion with a joke.

When I asked Terry what he thought about the joke, he said that he enjoyed how clever it was and it how it reminded him of his mother. He said his mother had passed away and this joke helped him remember his childhood and the times he spent cleaning dishes with his mother. They would always tell each other clever, humorous jokes as they cleaned up after dinner. Whenever he heard this joke for the first time, he thought it would be a good joke to tell his mother. He thinks the joke represents clever humor but that it also represents God and his ability to do whatever he pleases. He can dress up like any person he wants and get away with it because he is God.

When I heard this joke, I too thought that it was pretty clever and that my parents would enjoy it. Similarly, I thought people of his age would enjoy this joke more than people of my own age simply because it relates to church and it is not inappropriate. However, I do believe this joke has a different meaning. I believe it is trying to tell us that no matter how great we think we are, we always need to be patient and wait in line just like everybody else. Just as the doctor thought that he deserved early entry into heaven, there are many people in today’s society who think they deserve more than others. But, this joke reflects how people need to wait for their turn, no matter how great they are. This joke perhaps also shows the power of God and the fact that he can do whatever he wants.


Joke-Husband/Wife Scandal

“Ring, Ring, ‘hello.’ ‘Hey honey, this is daddy, is mommy near the phone?’ ‘No daddy, she’s upstairs in the bedroom with Uncle Paul.’ After a brief pause, daddy said ‘honey, you haven’t got an Uncle Paul.’ So the girl says, ‘oh yes I do, he’s upstairs with mommy right now.’ [Brief Pause] Daddy says ‘huhhh well this is what I want you to do. Put the phone down on the table, go upstairs, knock on the bedroom door, and shout to mommy, Daddy’s car just pulled into the driveway. ‘Ok daddy, just a minute.’ A few minutes later, girl comes back to the phone, ‘I did it daddy,’ ‘and what happened honey?’ ‘Mommy got all scared and jumped out of bed with no clothes on and ran around screaming. Then she tripped over the rug and hit her head on the dresser. And now she isn’t moving at all.’ ‘OH MY GOD,’ said daddy, ‘what happened to Uncle Paul?’ ‘Well he jumped out of bed with no clothes on too, he was all scared and he jumped out of the back window and into the swimming pool. But, I guess he didn’t know that we took out all of the water last week to clean it. He hit the bottom of the pool and I think he’s dead. [Very long pause]. The daddy says, ‘swimming pool? Is this 4865731?’ ‘No,’ the little girl says, ‘I think you have the wrong number.’”

Terry said he learned this joke through an e-mail from an old friend. He said that sometimes his friends will send him jokes that they believe he will enjoy. So, when he opened up his e-mail account today, he found a new joke waiting for him. He said that this joke came from his sister who lives about 10 miles west from the city he grew up in the middle of the Iowa cornfields. Terry’s sister regularly sends him e-mails with various items in it. It just so happens that this time, he received a joke that he thought was very funny.

Terry said a good time to perform this joke is in social gathering with friends, co-workers, or family members. He said that the joke performer must be able to be enthusiastic and act out the character’s voices. For instance, whenever the little girl is speaking to the dad, he must be able to talk in a quieter, adolescent voice. The overall performance of the joke helps excite the audience members. By telling it with great enthusiasm, the joke will be a success.

Terry thinks this joke is very clever and exciting because he was completely surprised by the punch line. He thinks that it is a good joke because there is great anticipation to find out what will happen at the end. He also believes that this joke represents irony in the sense that although the father called the wrong house, the wife was still cheating on her own husband with the so-called Uncle Paul. But, he also thinks that it also represents stupidity as the man did not even know his own phone number.

I agree with Terry that this joke is very clever and that it represents both irony and stupidity. But, I also think it has an important lesson within it. Parents should never make their kids do inappropriate tasks such as telling their mom that their dad is in the driveway. The way the father manipulated the child shows how disastrous the outcome should be. Parents should take problems into their own hands and not rely on their children to be the mediating force between them. Because of the father’s actions, the cheating mother and man were both seriously injured or killed. I think this joke tells people to think before acting because the father clearly did not think or else he would not have had his daughter tell her mother that he was in the driveway.

Riddle – Pamplona, Spain


“Oro parece, plata no es. ¿Que es?”

“Looks gold. Silver is not. What is?”

“It looks like gold. It is not silver. What is it?”

Pablo learned this riddle when he was a child in Pamplona from his mother. He said she would always tell him little riddles to help him build his intelligence. He said that this riddle can only be used in Spain because it does not make sense anywhere else. Whenever you say it in Spanish, the answer is hidden in the riddle. Pablo said the answer to the riddle is platono. In English, platono means banana. The reason it only makes sense in Spanish is because the word platono forms whenever you combine plata and no. Therefore, in Spanish, the riddle says “oro parace, plata no es. ¿Que es? Platono. Now, one can understand why it does not make sense in English. Banana does not form by combining the words silver and no. Pablo said that this riddle is primarily for children because it is too easy for adults. He said a lot of Spanish mothers will give their children riddles to help them learn how to think quickly.

Pablo likes this poem because he enjoys seeing people who do not know any better struggle to get the right answer. He said that if you performed this riddle to someone who didn’t understand Spanish folklore but knew the language, it would be funny to see them think hard for such a simple answer. A good example of this is a Spaniard telling this riddle to an American who knows how to speak Spanish. Although he might know the language very well, he might not be able to get the right answer because he does not expect it. That is why riddles are great. They not only make you think, but they make you realize how simple the answer was afterwards.

I agree with Pablo that this a nice riddle to give to kids. The answer does seem too obvious for adults but children will have fun trying to guess what the answer is. I also think that this riddle can only be used in Spain and other Spanish speaking countries because of the culture and the language. If an American performed this riddle to another American, it would not make sense because we do not speak Spanish as our national language. I think this joke also represents how people can see the answer right in front of them but still not be able to get it. It does not mean that person is stupid. It just means that he was unaware of the answer directly in front of his face.

This riddle can also be seen in More Riddles for the Spanish Class, a book written by Joseph Raymond. This book provides many Spanish riddles with interpretations of some of them. This particular riddle is found on page 328 along with many others.

Annotation: Raymond, Joseph. More Riddles for the Spanish Class. Vol. 35. American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portugese, 1952. 328.

Holiday – Pamplona, Spain


“In Spain, Easter time is one of the most important times of the year, especially in southern Spain. For those who do not know, we have these big parades with this entity like an intrafraternity council that coordinates the different fraternities. They are each assigned to a different part of the parade. For example, one could be in charge of remaking the Last Supper. There will be over a hundred people carrying a monument representing the Last Supper because it is so large. Everyone in the community comes out and experiences an interpersonal moment as these fraternities display many of the great stories of the Easter holiday. Many of the people are in tears as they are moved by the great religious feeling. The parade shows the Easter holiday and its importance on the Spanish culture.”

Pablo said that Easter is very important to Spanish culture. He lives in northern Spain so it is not as important there as it is in southern Spain. However, he still feels like Easter represents an extremely religious moment for him and the rest of members of his community. He said that the fraternities are not like the ones you find at different universities. They are devout religious individuals that come together to make this event special. There are about fifty to sixty people in each fraternity, Pablo said, and depending on the size of the city in Spain, there could be few to many fraternities. Whenever he is in Spain, he always goes to the Easter processions because he has been going since he was a child.

When I asked Pablo what the parade meant to him, he said that it was a very interpersonal moment where he felt closer to God and the rest of his community. Pablo used to be an active member of one of the fraternities as he helped carry the monuments across the city. He said that this parade brings everyone into tears because of its overwhelming connection between the community and God. He enjoys Easter because everyone in the community comes out together to watch the fraternities parade through the city.

When I talked to Pablo about his Easter holiday, it made me visualize an entire community rejoicing together in the streets of their city. I agree that this would be a very interpersonal moment and that it also represents their culture. Not everybody has a parade with fraternities parading religious monuments across the city. This holiday shows that the people of Spain feel close to each other and God for the fraternities connect them all. I believe that this parade means that people of Spain want to show their religious practices not only to God, but to the world as well.