Tag Archives: spanish proverb

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. 

Help Your Fellow Neighbor

Context: TC is a 58 year old man from Barcelona, Spain. He is a close friend of my father. He came to visit my dad and I took the opportunity to ask him about any folklore he knew. He remembers a story he was told as a child regarding a proverb about helping your fellow neighbor. We sat on the poarch while we all drank beer and listened. 

TC: In a barn there was once a mouse who was looking for help. The poor mouse had realized that the farmer had brought in traps to catch him. He was scared and uhh he went to the chicken and told her, “ chicken the farmer has brought a mouse trap, I’m scared I’ll get trapped”, and the chicken replied “ so ? What do I have to do in this ? go away.” The mouse left saddened at the fact the chicken wouldn’t do anything to help. He then went to the lamb and said, “lamb can you help get rid of this mouse trap the farmer has brought?” and the lamb replied, “ I don’t have time for this, leave now.” The mouse left and went to the cow and said, “ hey cow uhh I’m scared the farmer bought a trap and I don’t know what to do,” the cow replied “ I could care less.” So the mouse left to his little home… sad that no one would help. Later that night, while the farmer and his wife were sleeping, they heard the mouse trap go off. The farmer told his wife, “you hear that woman something has landed in the trap, go on and see what it is.” The farmer’s wife got up and went to see. When she gets close to see….. it was a snake that had landed the trap. As the snake moved like crazy trying to free itself it somehow reached the lady and bit her. So then the farmer realizes his wife isn’t back and gets up to look for her…. And finds her on the floor and says, “ oh my god, it was a snake and it has biting my wife… What will I do ?! I don’t have much money to take her to the doctor” He then thinks and remembers he has heard that chicken soup is good to counter venom snakes…. He then rushes  to the barn and gets the chicken and makes soup out of her. 

YM: Wooow and bye bye chicken hahahah

TC: Yeah ! hahaha anyways he gave his wife the soup but she didn’t get better… so then he thinks, “ I have to take her to the doctor but I have no money.. Alright I will take the lamb and sell it on the way so I have money to pay the doctor.” However, his wife didn’t make it, it was too late, and the venom had done its job. Now that his wife was dead he didn’t have any money for the funeral. He goes on to say, “ I will sell my cow to a slaughter house to give my wife a proper tomb.” The cow dies and he buries his wife.

YM: oh my god!

TC: YUP! And the mouse who was asking everyone for help remained alive. That is why you should  help your fellow neighbor when in need…. Because if you don’t, everyone could end up losing… if there’s one, two, four, six people here, and something goes bad for one, something goes bad for everyone. That’s why the proverb goes “ Cuando ayudas a los demás, te ayudas a ti mismo.” 

Main piece:  “Cuando ayudas a los demás, te ayudas a ti mismo” 

Translation:  When you help others, you help yourself

Background info: TC heard this story from his uncle growing up. He thinks the story is a great representation of what happens when you don’t help your fellow neighbor or those in need. The story stuck with him throughout the years and now tells it to his children. 

Analysis: This was a great story to explain this proverb. I agree with TC and this proverb when it comes to helping your fellow neighbor. I do believe that helping others can create good karma that will later come back and help you in some form. Or that when you care for someone and you help them you also help yourself. For example, parents who help their kids go to college and get a degree to have brighter futures so that maybe one day their kids can look after them when they’re old. Not only that but when you help others, it makes you a better person, opening your heart to be more empathetic and compassionate. There’s even a study that was done, when you help someone you get the “helper’s high.” This happens because when you help others your brain secretes and releases “feel good” chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. This proverb definitely shaped TC’s life and it taught him to have good morals. Proverbs are meant to give us advice on what is right and what is wrong and how we should behave or do things.