Tag Archives: sayings

You Can’t Get Blood From a Turnip

Text: “You can’t get blood from a turnip” (Proverb/folk speech)


K is my sisters fiance, they’ve been together for about 9 years so he is pretty much a part of the family already. He lives in Salem, Virginia and grew up right by Salem, in Roanoke County. He often heard this piece from his father or grandfather when asking for money from them as a child.

K- “You can’t get blood from a turnip, you know like the vegetable. My father says this all the time really, I’ve heard it all my childhood and when I was little I never understood what it meant”

Interviewer- What does it mean?

K- “It means you can’t get any money out of someone who doesn’t have any (begins laughing) I would ask my dad for money when I was little and he would say ‘you can’t get blood from a turnip son’…yeah that was always pretty funny”


The proverb “You can’t get blood from a turnip” is an expression used to convey the idea that someone cant extract something valuable or useful from a source that lacks that particular quality or substance. In this case, the metaphorical image is of trying to obtain blood, which is often associated with vitality or essential components, from a turnip, which is a root vegetable with no blood or valuable content. In this particular setting the person was comparing the blood to money and the turnip, their father/his wallet. The saying is often used to emphasize the futility of expecting more than what is realistically possible from a given situation, person, or resource. It suggests that one should not demand or expect something that is simply not present or available. It encourages a practical and realistic approach to expectations and outcomes.

No One is So Young…Nor So Old

Nadie es tan joven que no se pueda morir mañana, ni tan viejo que no pueda vivir un día más. (“No one is so young that they cannot die tomorrow, nor so old that they cannot live another day.”)


MD is my roommate’s friend here at USC. She is originally from Miami Beach, Florida and has lived there her whole life. She was raised by Argentinian parents who immigrated to Florida when they were in their teenage years. She describes her parents as both free spirited and herself in the same fashion. 


MD: I think my parents both always had these really poetic and pretty sounding sayings growing up just because of the type of people that they are. If I had to pick one I’d say, “Nadie es tan joven que no se pueda morir mañana, ni tan viejo que no pueda vivir un día más.”

DO (Interviewer): Can you explain more about that?

MD: Well a literal translation of it is “No one is too old that they can’t live another day, nor too young that they cannot die tomorrow.” My mom always says it to me. 

DO: What do you think the significance is to her? Or even what does it mean to you?

MD: My mom is a free spirit, live in the moment type of woman for sure. So I think this is her way of saying two things actually. The first part is saying you’re never too old to go after what you want. Never too old for adventure. The second part is more of a warning I guess. I think a lot of people, especially in our generation, have a “live fast, die young” mentality. To me this phrase is like a balance thing. Go after what you want because it’s never too late, but also remember that what you do can have consequences. 


Even though the saying is in Spanish it has more of a lifestyle type of folklore than a cultural one. Societal norms may place certain restrictions or even uphold certain ideals based on age and common perceptions of certain age groups. This phrase can serve as a statement to break these ideas of what age means and go against the grain of what expectations are placed on you based on your age. Western culture has a notion of the youth being reckless and free and the older generations being wise and sometimes even sort of stagnant in their lifestyle. With phrases like these, it’s an encouragement to break these norms. Additionally, this phrase can stand to represent the importance of life itself, encouraging others to enjoy it while it’s here but also live in a way that lets you enjoy it as much as possible. It can also stand to talk about time and how we all have these ideas about it. Some believe they have a set amount of time here and others feel, in a sense, immortal. This phrase works to explore that. 

Playground Diss


Q:Ok so what was the saying.

R: Its, there’s like a saying and you do a couple movements but its:

Brick Wall Water Fall


You don’t, I do 

So boom with that attitude

Reeses pieces, Butter Cup

You mess with me I mess you up

Elbow elbow wrist wrist

Hush up girl you just got dissed

Context: This was a saying from middle school that was common among kids at the time (2015-16), and was in this case not used for any purpose than to have a cool rhyme. 

Analysis: To me, this seems like a variation on many childhood “playground” dites I have heard before. Of course, this one has more of an aggressive tone so I would assume that it was used in a more confrontational manner as a sort of playground mic drop, so to speak. Another form I could see this taking is a jump rope rhyme as it has a good rhythm to it when told orally.



D.S. is my father, who immigrated here from Albania when he was 18 years old. I always remember him telling me a lot when I was growing up, “an Albanian can die, but his oath will not be violated. I called him up and asked him more about where this phrase comes from.

Me: So is there an Albanian phrase that you got this from?

D.S.: Yes, I never really spoke it to you in the Albanian version since you don’t speak the language hahaha, but in Albanian it is Shqiptarët vdesin dhe Besën nuk e shkelin

Me: So where does it come from?

D.S.: The basic premise of the phrase comes from the concept of a Besa which is like a pledge of honor. In Albania, it is essentially an oath or to keep a promise.

Me: So what is a Besa all about? Is it just a word?

D.S.: The basic premise of the concept is to keep your word, as it is the most valuable thing you can offer. If you don’t have your word, then what do you have?

Me: That sounds familiar hahahaha

D.S.: Exactly hahaha, but a besa can come in all sorts of forms, whether it be a promise, your faith, or protecting someone. It is of the utmost importance in Albania, in all aspects of your life. When you give someone your besa, you cannot go back on it. This is how it has always been, and Albanians really pride themselves on it.

It is really important to keep your word. Breaking a besa is one of the worst things you can do that is not a crime. When you make a promise you need to ensure you give all your effort towards that until it’s fulfilled. Otherwise you are untrustworthy and your self-worth is lowered. Being an Albanian, it is important for me to always remember this in my life.

Nobody for me but me

Main Piece: 

“There is nobody but me who is for me”

Background Information:

This is about how everybody is mainly for themselves. My mother grew up with this saying. 

Context of the Performance:

This piece essentially means that you have to think about yourself and stand up for yourself when necessary because nobody else will.

My Thoughts:

This reminds me of the saying “This is a dog eat dog world” meaning that everybody is only looking out for themselves. There is definitely truth to this saying, especially considering the individualist society and culture that is ripe with competition in the United States today. People generally do not do something good for others unless it benefits themselves.