Tag Archives: animal sayings

“The eye of the soul fattens your horse”

Context: My informant is a 29 year-old man who is of Cuban descent. He grew up in San Diego and still lives there. He described a common saying for Cubans that his family taught him growing up. He likes this saying because it has led him to be more attentive and focused at many parts of his life.

Transcription

Informant:

“‘El ojo del alma el gordo el caballo’ is a popular Cuban saying. In english it translates to the eye of the soul fattens your horse. It basically means if you care about something and you want it to grow, you have to um… keep your eyes on it and pay attention. I remember my parents telling me this when I was growing up and it has always been something that has stuck with me. I um… definitely wanna teach it to my children some day,”

Thoughts:

This saying resonated with me as I am also a Cuban person. This was definitely a message implemented by my family throughout the years as it shaped a lot of how I thought about work and things that I care about in general. It is the culmination of hearing phrases like this that helped me to understand the world around me. This type of oral tradition is extremely impactful, especially to children, as they are so malleable. 

This is the type of phrase that the informant will pass on to his kids and so on forever as these types of sayings are very important to the culture and beliefs. Many other cultures have sayings along this message which helps explain why it is such an important message to hold. Using the horse as a reference is very interesting and also mentioning the idea of a soul as these things illuminate that these ideas might be more common for Cuban people to understand than others.

Bones

The informant was born and raised in Colorado. She all her life has used proverbs that her grandmother taught her to develop relationships. Her grandmother helped in assisting her by giving her proverbs to live by that apply to any situation and any human.

A dog that brings a bone takes a bone

Informant…

When I was a lot younger and still in my adolescent years, I would try and keep up with the latest drama and gossip. I was all in his business or her business and always had the latest gossip. So and so would tell me something about someone and I would talk to my grandma like oh so and so said that she’s been doing a,b,c and my grandma would respond with A dog that brings a bone, takes a bone. At first the didn’t really mean much to me, I had to experience it on my own to have a full understanding of what she meant. A dog that takes a bone brings a bone to me means that if someone is coming to you with gossip, they are going to leave with something about you and talk about you to other people the same way the were talking to you about so and so. I just always have kept this in the back of my mind when someone is gossiping  about someone else to me. I realize that if i egg in that conversation, there might be something that I said that would give the person a bone to run off with. I guess what I get from this is be aware of conversations you engage in and how much you trust to tell people.”

Analysis…

A dog that brings a bone takes a bone. I haven’t heard this before, so it is new to me. When to informant was explaining it to me I think she could sense my confusion probably by my facial expression and thankfully she continued to elaborate until she thought I could make sense of it. I think this just goes along with the proverbs about being careful who you trust and spend your time around. Not everyone in this world has good intentions and I think that in informant’s grandmother kew that and she was wise enough to share them with her granddaughter to hopefully help her in life. A dong that brings a bone takes a bone puts an all new perception of people and relationships into my head. It makes sense that a gossip who gossips to you is most likely gossiping about you, so it is important to choose carefully who you also yourself to be around.

People don’t change

The informant was born and raised in Colorado. She all her life has used proverbs that her grandmother taught her to develop relationships. Her grandmother helped in assisting her by giving her proverbs to live by that apply to any situation and any human.

“A tiger can’t change its stripes”

Informant…

“My grandma would always tell me that a tiger cant change its stripes. By this she meant that a tiger will always have stripes, you can cover them up, you can shave them off, you can try and hide them, but the stripes will always be there. This connects to humans because it translates as a person can’t change, he can hide who he is, pretend he is someone else but he won’t ever change. This is important to know because if you meet some and you get a bad feeling from them or if down the road they do something in your relationship that disappoints you and shows you who they really are you have to realize that they can’t change who they are. This also is good to apply to yourself. When I was young and insecure about myself trying to be like everyone else and fit in, my grandma would tell me a tiger can’t change its stripes meaning that you are who you are and no matter how hard you try and change yourself, you can’t and you will always have your stripes.”

Analysis…

This proverb summarizes humans pretty well. A tiger can’t change its stripes is really important in our society because it seems like everyone is always trying to change themselves to be something they aren’t and hide who they are to fit in. This proverb reminds us that we are who we are and we can’t change it so we should embrace our stripes and our characteristics rather than covering up who we are and what makes us us. I think this proverb is inferring that we are all unique and shouldn’t try to hide who we are and our differences are good and should be appreciated. This is helpful in a society where the look is the most important thing, where you have to look and be a certain way to be accepted.

This proverb also summarizes how we should treat other people. It is normal for people to love everyone and to think the best about people, which is something I do, but when a person proves to you over and over that they are a certain way that means that is who they are. Good or bad, their action could be positive of negative but it is a reflection of who they are and it is important to know that a person can’t change because then we won’t expect something from that person that they can’t give us, and we can decide if that is the kind of person we want to be around.

“Two shakes of a dead sheep’s tail”

This proverb is used to mean a short amount of time. Saying “I’ll be there in two shakes of a dead sheep’s tail” means that you will be there quickly. The informant first heard this proverb from his mother when he was five years old. His mother is from Georgia, and the informant always believed that this was a Southern proverb. It was memorable because he could never figure out why it had to be a sheep’s tail, let alone a dead’ sheep’s tail. There is nothing about dead sheep’s tails that lend them to being shaken fast, making this proverb somewhat absurd and silly. The saying seems to have gone out of style, so the people who use it are usually older. It is also a very motherly saying, used to reassure impatient children that dinner will be ready soon, or that they will leave soon, etc.

Ningún mono se ve el rabo.

Ningún mono se ve el rabo.

No monkey sees his own tail.

 

(Similar Proverbs: Pigs don’t know pigs stink, Before you criticize the splinter in someone else’s eye, remove the log from your own.)

My informant, who is bilingual, remembers hearing this proverb from her grandmother, born in 1915, and who moved to the United States from Cuba in 1976. (My informant’s mother came to the United States at the same time in 1976).

This was one of her favorite proverbs growing up. Notice the objects used in each version of the proverb. In Cuba it was a monkey, a more western version uses a pig. It appears that this proverb is localized to each region in that they use native animals for the proverb.

My informant did note that, although some versions of this proverb do come from the Bible, she felt that “No monkey sees his own tail” is more a reflection of her grandmother’s origins, not the similarity between her grandmother’s version and the version found in the bible involving removing the log from ones eye.

My informant explained the proverb to me as a proverb advocating self-examination. When you want to criticize someone for a small fault, look at yourself and any faults that you might have first.