“El que mucho abarca, poco aprieta.”
“The one who takes on a lot, rarely focuses.”
“Este es un dicho que se refiere a las personas que quieren hacer mucho, pero no se enfocan en una sola cosa y no hacen bien, entonces quiere decir que la gente que hace demasiadas cosas a la vez pero no se enfoca en una nunca va hacer las cosas bien hechas. Después, em….O sea estos dichos son dichos populares, que los dice la gente normalmente en las calles, y en Mexico siempre la gente dice muchos dichos que se refieren a muchas situaciones, y que son parte de la cultura.”
“This is a proverb that refers to people who want to do a lot, but don’t focus on a single thing and don’t do well, basically it means that the people who do too many things at once and don’t focus will never do anything well done. Then, em…. Well I mean these proverbs are all popular proverbs, that are normally said by people in the streets, and in Mexico people always say many proverbs that refer to many situations, and that are part of the culture.”
My mom, the informant for this proverb, was born and grew up in Mexico, living the first 30 years of her life in Mexico City. As a native Mexican, she knows a lot about the customs and culture of the country. Besides that, she also grew up in a family that, like most Mexican families, uses proverbs very frequently in everyday speech. She therefore learned most of the proverbs that she knows in a household setting, from family members and friends. She remembers most of the proverbs that she heard while growing up given the fact that they were constantly repeated, and also because of their very memorable format, often using rhymes, alliteration, and rhythm to convey their message. Today, many of them are part of her everyday vocabulary.
The informant’s emphasis on proverbs like this one being part of a common, everyday vocabulary, makes them very relevant to many situations in life. The mentality expressed here, is one common to Mexican work ethic – you take your time on one thing until it turns out well. We see this present in the production of Mexican handicrafts, that, when crafted in a traditional way, are not mass produced, but are made with time and care. Taking on a variety of projects is not only overwhelming and stressful, but it leads to a bad quality result. The sentiment expressed in this proverb can be compared to the message of the proverb in the United States, “quality over quantity”.