Tag Archives: Mexican Proverb

“Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos”

  • Informant: My informant is my Mexican dad who grew up in Puebla, Mexico. 

Main Piece: “Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos” 

Transliteration: “Raise crows and they will take out your eyes” 

Translation: “Raise ravens, and they’ll gouge your eyes out” 

Background: My informant is my dad, who grew up in the small town of Puebla, Mexico. He was raised by a single mother and is the youngest of all 5 siblings. As the youngest of all, he said he was a good kid, yet there were times that when he or his siblings did something wrong his mom (my grandma)would say the proverb above. 

Context: This proverb is known to usually comes up when a child has done something wrong such as anything that goes against a parent’s expectation. This highly includes betrayal. In especially betrayal in this case or when a child is not appreciative of what their parents have given to them. 

Analysis: This phrase seems to have been a staple of my childhood, part of which I have heard so many times when I do something that displeases my parents. Although the proverbs in a sense seem sort of harsh, I think it has been an important phase in my life, which has allowed me to realize that one has to appreciate their parents a little more. 

“El Que Come y Canta Luego Loco Se Levanta”

Informant: My informant is a current sophomore at the University of Southern California. Her parents are from Jalisco, Mexico. However, she grew up in Denver, Colorado. 

Main Piece: “El que come y canta luego loco se levanta”

Transliteration: “He who eats and sings later crazy he wakes up”

Translation: “He who eats and sing later gets up crazy” 

Context: My informant stated that this proverb was/is usually directed to her whenever she sings at the table during dinner or at breakfast. She stated the following “I think my dad was trying to calm me down because out of respect you know you don’t want anyone to be humming while you are eating. Another reason, which I can think of why he would quiet me down was just for cautionary because I could choke or something. As for where he got this proverb, I believe, he got it from his parents as well. Honestly, now that I think about it…him and I are very similar. I’m more than sure that he also hummed at the table when he was younger. “

Analysis: Although it is sweet that my informant’s dad might say this proverb to her as means to be careful. I interpreted it in another way. I think when this proverb was told to my informant’s dad, it might have been to silence children and make them behave by presenting sort of like a threat/excuse that they would choke. I for one also have parents that come from Mexico, but I never have heard this phrase from them, but the rule at the table for is to eat with very little chatter. It comes to no surprise that maybe this proverb was drive by the desire to quiet down children, because sometimes children can be extremely chatty.

The shrimp that falls asleep is taken by the current


M has learned about different proverbs from family members, often elder ones, and learned this particular one from her great aunt when she was a child. She uses this particular one often to her grandchildren.

The context of this piece was collected during a movie when the protagonist was late for an important interview.


M: Precisamente por eso les digo a los niños que la gamba que se duerme, se deja llevar por la corriente.

Yo: ¿Qué significa eso?

M: Tienes que ir un paso por delante del resto. Si no estás atento y aprovechas las oportunidades que se te presentan, otro las aprovechará. En otras palabras, serás como la gamba y te arrastrará la corriente.


M: That’s exactly why I tell the kids that the shrimp that falls asleep, is taken by the current.

Me: What does it mean?

M: You have to stay one step ahead of the rest. If you are not on alert and seize the opportunities ahead of you then someone else will take advantage of them. In other words, you would be just like the shrimp and get taken by the current.


I found this proverb really interesting because I had already heard American variations of this proverb. I had heard of “Early bird gets the worm” which I believe has similar meaning to the proverb said by M. The phrasing reveals a lot about how the meaning or essence of a proverb changes as it transcend among different cultures I also found it interesting how the proverb used simple imagery so that realistically anyone can understand what it means.

“Perro que ladra no muerde”

Informant: My informant is a current sophomore at the University of Southern California. Her parents are from Jalisco, Mexico. However, she grew up in Denver, Colorado. 

Main Piece: “Perro que ladra no muerde” 

Transliteration: “Dog that barks don’t bite” 

Translation: “Dog that barks doesn’t bite” 

Context: My informant stated that this proverb is usually present when someone is being threatening, but you know that they will not do anything. My informant proceeded to give an example of her own explaining the following: For example, if somebody told me, oh, I’m in denial, I’m finally going to buy my car or something, and it’s like someone who doesn’t have the funds to buy a car or something, then this proverb would apply to them. She stated that this proverb is used to like the question “But are you actually going to do it? Probably not. She heard it from my parents and other members of my family. And now, it has been said so many times by her family, that she also began saying it. She started seeing it sort of as a joke not even just to say it literally, but just because it was like something that she heard with the older people in my family. She felt like at first it was just sort of like an “Oh, let me try to fit in with the in my culture.”

Analysis: I think it’s interesting how in so many cultures, we don’t say what we think upfront, but rather we look for sneaky ways of creating proverbs to talk about people. I for one, am also very familiar with this proverb because it used a lot for the same reason as it was explained for above. This proverb just demonstrates how in Mexican culture we detest individuals who are all talk, but never take action. For example, if you talk too much about supposed accomplishment that you will be doing, yet you don’t accomplish them, in Mexican culture that is embarrassing. All in all, I think this proverb serves its purpose to humble down people.

La Carne de Burro no es Transparente

Informant: My informant is my Mexican dad who grew up in Puebla, Mexico.

Main Piece: “La carne de burro no es transparente”

Transliteration: “donkey meat is not transparent”

Translation: “Donkey meat is not transparent”

Context: My dad stated that he heard this proverb in Mexico a lot whenever, he was in the way or when someone was in his way, he would say it. This proverb is told in order to tell someone to move out of the way. In other words, “excuse me,” but in a much vulgar way.

Analysis: I think this proverb can be problematic because it stems from fatphobia. Although it is proverb used to tell someone to get out in the way, it means to say it because you are telling the person that they are too “big.” It also emphasizes how in Mexican culture, when this is said it means that the person who said it to you has no time to deal with you. Therefore, you should move out of their way because they have a busy day. Therefore, emphasizes just hardworking Mexican people are.