Proverb – El Salvador

“El Burro por delante”

“The donkey in front”

“The ass is going first” or “Put the cart before the horse”

I learned this proverb when I was about seven or eight years old when I used to lived in El Salvador. I remember that this proverb was used heavily by my friends and my older brother. This is used to correct someone when they accidentally put themselves first, for example saying “Me and Rodolfo” rather than “Rodolfo and I.” I don’t remember exactly, but I do not think that my teachers ever used this on us; however, I do remember my parents using this whenever I was wrong. This proverb is a great way to teach kids the right way of speaking and writing. This tells the receiver that they are a burro (could mean ass or stupid) because they put themselves first when it is impolite to do so.

I have heard this proverb in El Salvador as well as in California by Mexican and Salvadoran families. I think is a very popular proverb to teach people to be polite. The funny thing about the proverb is that they are telling the person that made the mistake to be more polite and put themselves last, but at the same time they are being impolite because they call them an ass. It is a great lesson because it sticks with you for a long time; I was recently having an instant messaging conversation with a friend trying to ask her if she knew any folklore (for this collection). However she asked me what I did that day and I responded:  “me and my friend …” and I corrected my self saying “el burro por delante, I must be a burro then.” I then realize that I was not a real ass because I had another item for my collection.