“Life isn’t fair.”

“Mom, like, really doesn’t like the idea of proverbs, so I wouldn’t tell her this is one. It definitely comes from her being an English Professor and having to read lots of student stories where the just write the same really cliché stuff and like try to sound deep or poetic by repeating things they’ve read, which I agree would but super frustrating. But, anyways, she doesn’t like proverbs, but there’s this one phrase she’s always saying. And it’s “life isn’t fair.” Which, I mean, I don’t know if it’s really a proverb, but it’s something a lot of people say in response to stuff. It gets really annoying, like, you know, sometimes you just want to complain about something, but she uses it to shut you up. I mean, like, maybe life isn’t fair, but maybe it should be.”

I asked one of my informants if she had any proverbs she used frequently, and she told me that she never uses proverbs. She hates how they become a crutch for people who are too lazy to try to actually articulate what they want to say precisely. While I accepted her argument, I found it a little suspicious that someone could go entirely without using any proverbs. So, I decided to get a different perspective from her daughter, who revealed she was perhaps as not a purely original as she thought. This just goes to show how essential folk-speech is to language. After all, almost all of our formative language-learning comes from hearing grown-ups talk while we are babies, not from any sort of formalized guide—although many books to exists to help children learn, and when we are older, we grow our skills and vocabulary by reading complex works. Even if we actively try to avoid simply repeating sayings, it is impossible to avoid picking up phrases.