Proverb – Jamaican

“Chip noh fly far from de block”

“Chip not fly far from the block”

“The chip does not fly far from the block”

Phyllis learned this proverb from her parents when she was growing up in Jamaica. She often heard it in reference to “bad” kids who had “bad” parents. She also heard it used by her mother when she did not want her to be friends with certain kids that she did not approve of by virtue of their parents actions.

She heard it said not only from her parents but also from other adults. Phyllis says that the proverb is talking about the cement used to build structures in some parts of her hometown of Kingston, Jamaica. If a piece of the cement that is part of the structure breaks off it is similar to the block it fell from. “Fly far” can be interpreted to mean “is similar to.” The block itself is composed of many similar chips and they all share similar characteristics.

The chips are symbolic of offspring. She says that children are similar to their parents, in not only appearance but also behavior, much in the same way chips of a cement block are similar to the block they fall from. A similar proverb that I have heard is “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” This proverb also highlights how parts of a whole, whether it is apples from an apple tree or chips from a cement block, are similar to the whole from which it came.

Phyllis says that the proverb is very important because parents influence their children and guide them to adulthood. If parents act in a manner unbecoming of adults with a child then it is the children that are damaged as a result. They can receive negative influences from their parents. She stressed the fact that children emulate their parents as they grow and some parents set a very bad example for children to follow.

I think the proverb is useful, but also that it should not be taken too explicitly. It is not always their parents. It could be the case that a child grows up doing the complete opposite of his or her parents out of rebellion. I think it runs the risk of generalizing too much. If not considered to explicitly apply to all situations, I believe it does help inform people of possible modes of behavior someone might have, especially when numerous instances of similarities in the actions of parent and child are observed.

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