Tag Archives: Jamaican

Proverb – Jamaica

“Man walks too fast, walk two time.

Subject’s Analysis:

I received this entry from my Jamaican grandmother. She said that the meaning was that if you walk to fast, you will have to go back in order to find your way. She said that this proverb is supposed to emphasize patience. She learned the proverb from her mother when she was growing up as a child in Jamaica. This proverb is used as advice to someone who is rushing through a job, or assignment, or rushing in general.

Collector’s Analysis:

I think that my grandmother’s analysis is only a small part of the overall message. While I think that this proverb is about patience, I think that this proverb is also about attention to detail. I believe that what it’s saying is that people must take care and pay attention during their first attempt at something in order to do it correctly, otherwise they will be forced to repeat the task because it was done improperly.

Proverb – Jamaica

“Patient man rides donkey.”

Subject’s Analysis:

My grandmother a Jamaican native learned this proverb from her mother during childhood.  She said that it is native to Jamaica. She said that it means because donkeys walk very slowly, only patient people ride them. She added that it is a metaphor for the fact that “patient people will eventually come into victory”.

Collector’s Analysis:

I agree with my grandmother’s analysis of this saying. I think that she has it down. Donkeys are well known to be stubborn and slow means of conveyance. Some would even say that it takes the patience of a saint to deal with them. So the proverb is easily understood. I think that this Jamaican proverb uses the donkey, because of the fact that donkeys are prevalent work animals in the Jamaican countryside, to this day. I have childhood memories of our neighbor across the street owning a donkey, and using him to haul food such as sugar cane from place to place. The last part of my grandmother’s analysis I think is a hidden meaning of the phrase. Her saying “patient people will eventually come into victory” is a proverb that also emphasizes patience. It could be related to the phrase “slow and steady wins the race”.

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.

Proverb – Jamaican

“Cow no know de use a im tail till fly tek ee”

“Cow no know the use of his tail until fly take it”

“The cow does not know the use of his tail until the fly takes it”

Dorothy said she heard this proverb from her father when she was a little girl. It is very much connected to her agricultural upbringing. The proverb refers to a cow taking for granted the utility of its tail. Over time, she says, the tail can become infested with flies and eventually damaged to the point of uselessness. It is at this point that the cow will know the usefulness of having a tail. Without a tail the cow cannot repel insects, something the cow took for granted before.

She says they proverb speaks about people in general not taking for granted having all of their body parts fully functional. A person may have bad hygiene practices and not think anything about it. Over time they may develop and illness or infection and end up losing the use of a body part as a result of bad hygiene or just lack of appreciating having a functional body. At this point the person will regret not appreciating having a functional body. She says that people should be grateful for having all of their limbs and being in decent health.

This proverb is similar to “You don’t know what you got ‘till it’s gone.” The difference is that it is more focused on the body, while the latter is applicable to broader situations. The cow really has no idea how useful having a tail is. I think that if I lost a limb or digit I would be in for a serious surprise, much like the cow. I think the proverb helps teach people to appreciate the little things more than they do. Things that we assume are automatic and will always be there can suddenly disappear. When I hear the proverb I cannot help but notice that the cow is completely helpless in defending himself from the fly infestation. Metaphorically that is similar to saying we are helpless in preventing a proportional fate from befalling us. When I look at it like that I feel compelled to appreciate everything out of fear of being unable to defend myself as opposed to actual appreciation of my body. It seems somewhat depressing and I do not think that is the actual intention of the proverb.