Author Archives: Benjamin Gutierrez

Saying – Spanish

vale solo que mal acompanado

Vale Solo Que Mal Acompanado
You go Alone Than Bad company

It’s better to be alone, than be badly accompanied.
My informant learned of this saying when he was 10 growing up while he and his little brother, who was six, went to similar secondary schools.  His mother was talking one day with his aunt about him and his brother and how different they were.  My informant had many friends, and was often very influenced by them.  On the other hand, his brother was a bit of a loner and was less social.  He was no influenced at all by his peers, and did whatever he wanted.

To describe his little brother his mother would often say, “Vale solo que mal acompanado” which basically states that even though he is alone, it is better than joining a bad gang.  It was better to be a good person and alone, then have friends and be a bad person.

This saying is a form of an excuse for the behavior of not having any friends, and making it acceptable and giving a reason to choosing to do so.

This also can be used in a different context.  For example, if someone is going to a school dance, is it better that the student goes alone with friends or goes with a date that could possibly be a disaster.  My informant said that he would tell his mother all the time that he likes to go alone because it is less of a risk of having a horrible date.

Saying – Spanish

Arbol que crece torcido, nunca se endereza

Arbol Que Crece Torcido Nunca Se Endereza
Tree Which Grows Twisted Never It straightens

A tree which grows twisted, will never straighten

This saying is always heard throughout the Hispanic cultures to describe a person’s personality and habits.  She often heard it when describing a child that is being raised in a difficult environment, and is often used to warn girls against teen pregnancies.  My cousin was pregnant at the age of 18, and her mother told her this phrase quit often so it is remembered distinctly.

My aunt would say this phrase because she was afraid that if my cousin moved away and raised the child, the child would not be raised correctly and would grow up to be a delinquent.

Also it is used to usually warn girls of higher class of boys that are of lower class. Overly concerned parents would often tell this to their daughters saying that because the boy was raised in a bad environment, that he will never be of the standards set for their daughter.

This is a bit of a metaphor that gives a clear image of a tree that is growing twisted.  Trees are very permanent and impossible to grow a different way, relating this idea to human beings, whether or not this is a true statement.

This saying is mostly said among older folk because it successfully serves as a warning statement or criticism to others.

This also shows the idea in Hispanic cultures the belief that people can not really change, and the importance of social class that plays with that.  Hispanic fathers are usually extremely protective of their father and have a huge saying of the decision of the groom to marry his daughter.

Saying – Spanish

Agua que no has de beber, dejala corer

Agua Que No Has De Beber Dejala Correr
Water Which No Have Of To drink Allow To run

Water you won’t drink, let it run.

We always want to make our lives better, and one way of doing that is to fix problems in our lives.  Some have the problem of dealing with their own problems and often cause more problems by interfering with other people’s business.

My informant would hear this saying growing up most often from his grandmother, who was of Mexican descent.  Although it was never often said directly to him, he would hear his grandmother say this to his mother, when they were talking “chisme” or gossip.  Even though his mother and grandmother would partake in daily “chisme” sittings, at the end of the conversation his grandmother would always say, “Aqua que no has de beber, dejala correr!” which was saying that the mother should not meddle in other people’s business because there is no point in involving yourself.

The practice of “chisme” is very common in Hispanic cultures.  It is very common during Christmas times, all the females of the family gather together for a large tamale-making event.  It is very common that they would share stories and gossip they’ve heard throughout the years, while the men all drink Corona beers in a different room, most likely in the TV room.  My informant remembers how humorous it was that his grandmother would always involve herself in others business, gossip about their stories, offer rhetorical advice, but then state this idiom, as if she wasn’t really meddling, yet she was in her own way.

In English, a common phrase is “Mind your business” which states just worry about yourself and not others, which is a very common Westernized ideology in the culture.

Saying – Spanish

Spanish Saying

El burro hablando de orejas.

El Burro Hablando De Orejas
The Donkey Talking Of Ears

The Donkey With Ears Talks.

Even though my informant does not speak fluent Spanish, his nanny spoke to him frequently in random phrases and even taught him a few sayings.  One phrase that my informant remembers and wanted to share with me was the one states above that his nanny nearly told him everyday and seemed to be her favorite saying to describe him.  He was one of four children that was cared for by his nanny Olivia.  She was from Mexico from Guadalajara.  She had been the nanny for 7 years while Alex was growing up from the ages of 3-10.

His personality consists of criticizing others very easily not noticing his own faults.  This saying was said by his nanny every time he would go tattle tale on his brothers to the nanny. A good example would be that he would tell the nanny that it is not right that his brother took cookies before eating dinner, yet he himself would do that on a daily basis.  Another example would be that he would call his brothers fat and slobbish, and again a perfect response would be to say this saying, noting that he himself is not so slim.

The saying talks about a donkey and its ears.  This is probably because a donkey’s ears are very noticeable and a key element for what consists of a donkey.  It is rhetorical as if a donkey is already criticizing someone’s ears, yet the donkey itself has very humorous ears.

In English, this saying is similar to “pot calling the kettle black”, which is unknown to both the informant and myself of its origins, probably the fact that both a pot and kettle are often of the color black.

The saying points out the hypocrisy in a person’s personality in a humorous way.  It is a good way of telling someone that what they just said was inappropriate and invalid because of who said it.  It is an easy way to insult the person who made the comment, because it is referring that the person simply criticized another to make him or her feel better about themselves.

Saying – Mexico City, Mexico

El que se fue a la villa, perdio su silla

El que Se Fue A La Villa Perdio Su silla
He That Is left of the Village Loses His seat

He that leaves the village loses his seat.

My informant learned this saying when he was a young child growing up in Mexico City.  He is from a large Mexican-Jewish-Spanish speaking family that consists of him, two older brothers, two sisters, and two younger brothers.  All shared rooms with each other, usually two to three children per room, until the older ones moved out and went to universities.  This saying was remembered to be said all the time among his brothers and cousins almost everyday.

It was often most said when one child got up to go to the kitchen or bathroom and would return to see their seat taken by another child.  The child would often contest and complain that was his seat and that the child had no right to take this seat.  The other would reply with this saying, he that leaves the village, loses his seat.  This was basically a conversation stopper and would be pointless to argue even further, he just said a rhyme telling the other kid to stop whining, because that is the unwritten rule.

This saying is most popular among children for it displays childish actions, and the want for the most comfortable seat.  He remembers it distinctly because his family had one rocking chair that was his fathers and all the children would battle for this seat when his father was not home and they were watching television. The rocking chair was the desired seat all the time, and it was fair game when one brother or sister would get up, unless he or she calls out a safety word.  Often they would create a cohort and plan that one would save the seat until the other would return, giving the little brother or sister an allotted time on the desired seat simply for helping him or her out.

In English, when a child comes back to find their seat taking, the seat stealer usually replies, “It doesn’t have your name on it!”.  It is very similar, yet doesn’t really rhyme.  It has a nice rhyming element when “villa” and “silla” are read.  Although it seems incoherent to say one that leaves the village, it give its own meaning because of rhyming and perhaps the village is the area in which the children are playing.

This saying becomes extra useful when family gatherings were formed at his house and the house was filled with nearly 50 cousins and each wanted a comfortable seat in front of the game station or television.