Proverb – Italian

“Dimmi con chi vai chi ti diro chi sei”

“Tell me who you go with and I’ll tell you who your are”

“A man is known by the company he keeps”

Richard told me that he learned this Italian proverb from his father when he was in high school.  Although it was told to him in his home of Miami, Florida it originated from his families native roots in the South of Italy.  His father told him the proverb when he was becoming more independent and had begun to make decisions on his own.  While his parents always trusted him, they wanted him to know that it was his responsibility to make smart decisions.  One of those decisions being choosing the right people to associate himself with.  Richard said his father has always been a firm believer in the idea that you will change, both positively and negatively, to mirror the people you spend time with.  The proverb was then retold to him when he was leaving for college and would be living in Los Angeles on his own, far out of the reach of his parents.

This proverb’s underlying meaning is that you must choose the people you associate with carefully, because they are a direct reflection of who you are.  After time, you begin to pick up the traits and characteristics of the people that surround you.  Although this proverb often has a negative connotation this not always true.  The proverb also works if you look at someone who has associated with good people.  In this situation they draw from all of the positive traits of their friends and improve themselves.

I have heard this proverb before, in the English language, and think it has significant meaning in my life.  Living in Los Angeles, without any supervision can be a lot to handle for some students, but if you keep good company and associate with the right people, you will only grow as a person.  Here at USC, we are given the opportunity to learn from very intelligent students and teachers.  It is our responsibility to take the lessons we learn and apply them positively to our own lives.

Macfarlane, David. The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Proverbs. Sterling, 2001.