“If You Lie Down With Dogs, You Get Up With Fleas”

Main piece:

“We have sayings like as my mama always said, she will always sit there and be like: ‘Ummm when you lay with dog you get fleas.’ So you are who yourself associate with the all times, your direct function of whoever you decide you associate with and who you are friends with.”


My informant always hears her mom say this saying to her to warn her be aware of the people who she decides to associate with. She is largely influenced by this saying as she grows up, and she is constantly aware of the people who she is friends with. She also tries to stay away from the people who she does not appreciate to avoid bad influence on her.


This piece of folklore was collected through a quick interview after class. My informant and I knew each other when we first came to the college, so the setting was really causal and both of us were relaxed.


I know a similar saying but in Chinese, which is:

Original saying in Chinese: 近朱者赤, 近墨者黑

Phonetic (Roman) script: Jin zhu zhe chi, jin mo zhe hei.

Transliteration: If you go towards red then you are red, and if you go towards black then you are black.

Full translation: If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

This saying also alerts people to be aware of the people that they are associated with. The color red in this saying refers to good influence, and the color black refers to bad influence. I grow up hearing this saying multiple times. It is also in the primary school textbook and my parents say it to me often too to educate me to be a good person and to be selective of my social circle.