Residence: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 23, 2017
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish
“The second one is, umm… More knows the devil, because he’s old, than to be a devil. Do you want me to tell you in Spanish? ‘Mas el diablo por viejo que por diablo.’ ”
And in what context would you say that? Like, what would you say that in reference to?
“Umm, that, uhh, we need to pay attention to the old people. That the old people is, is they know the way and we need to listen to them.”
Analysis: Another short and sweet proverb, this one celebrates old age in a very tongue-in-cheek sort of way. The proverb proclaims that the Devil knows more about being the Devil from simply living into old age than by being the Devil in the first place. In other words, this proverb would seem to reveal that, in rural Mexican culture, learned wisdom gleaned through experience is superior to natural-born intellect. This would suggest a deference to rural elders and a suspicion of up-and-comer types in the informant’s culture.