Tag Archives: responsibility

Turkish Proverb – “Havlayan Köpek Isirmaz”.

Main Piece

The following is transcribed from a proverb given from the informant, AT. 

AT: A Turkish proverb that I know of is “Havlayan Köpek Isirmaz”. This translates to “the dog that barks does not bite”. This proverb describes the type of person who does a lot of talking but never backs it up. And it also serves as a lesson to never say you’re going to do something and not end up doing it. 

Background: The informant knows this proverb through his time spent living in Turkey. He says it is pretty commonly taught, and is usually done so at a younger age. It was taught to him by his father, and is something he says he tries to live by. 

Context: The informant and I discussed this proverb of Face Time. 

My Thoughts: I am a fan of this proverb because it perfectly connects the lesson to the inaction of the barking dog. It is very important to do what you say you will, because if you don’t you will lose credibility. People will believe you less if you are all bark and no bite. Another takeaway I have from this proverb is that the American version seems to be more dictated towards fights. A person who is labeled as “all bark and no bite” is usually someone who talks as if he wants to fight someone but when presented the opportunity declines to do so. It is interesting to see how proverbs are interpreted in different cultures. 

The Whiter the Bread, the Quicker You’re Dead — Health Proverb


The following piece was collected from a young woman from Denver, Colorado. She will hereafter be referred to as the “Informant” and I the “Collector”.

Informant: “Before I went vegan, my dad would say to us whenever he thought we were being unhealthy. He would say we weren’t allowed to have white bread, only wheat.”

Collector: “What did he say?”

Informant: “He would say, ‘The whiter the bread, the quicker you’re dead.’”

Collector: “Haha…that’s good. What do you think he meant?”

Informant: “Oh, obviously he was just trying to scare us into believing that if we ate unhealthily, we would die…haha… kind of mean but pretty effective, as far as I can remember.”


            The Informant learned the piece from her father when she was a child. She believes its meaning is pretty clear – if you eat unhealthy food, like white bread, then you are more likely to reap the consequences. The Informant believes that it was simply a saying used to frighten children into eating more healthily. She has always remembered the saying because of its catchiness, but also because when she made the decision to become vegan, she also gave up white bread. She laughs now at the fact that her father can no longer remind her that if she eats white bread, she may die sooner.


            I believe this saying to be very interesting but not uncommon within a parent-child relationship. It is easy to understand the many ways parents try to persuade their children to act correctly and do the right thing. This is just one of the many examples of that form of parenting. “White the bread, the quicker you’re dead” is reminiscent of the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. In both cases, these sayings serve as a warning to a child – to be healthy and safe. But looking deeper, the saying can serve as a reminder that you reap what you sow – if you do something that will negatively affect you, there is no one to blame but yourself.