Tag Archives: warning

Mexican proverb

Main piece: 

“Más vale que la lleves y no la ocupes a que no la lleves y la necesites” 

Transliteration:

More better that the takes and no the uses to that no the takes and the needs

Full translation:

It’s better to have it and not use it than having to use it and not having it 

Background: My informant here was my grandma who’s staying with us during COVID-19. She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico but lives in the U.S. with us for the most part. This recorded proverb wasn’t really an interview. I heard her say it to my mom during mid sentence and I was able to catch on to it. After I asked my grandma to repeat it for me so I can jot it down. She added that she learned it “a long time ago” and that because of it she’s always prepared for everything. 

Context: My mom was going shopping and paying bills. It was mid to late afternoon and the sun was still. She was saying bye to us when my grandma asked “do you have a sweater” to which my mom replied “no, it’s still kind of warm” and my grandma countered with the transcribed proverb and my mom ended up taking it (although I think she did just to please my grandma). 

Thoughts: I’ve heard the proverb many times, usually because my mom tells it to me when I go out. And after analyzing it a little more, I guess it’s true. It’s better to be prepared, even over prepared,  than to need something and not have it (unprepared). For example, in the case of taking a sweater when you go out. Sometimes you don’t use the sweater and you just carry it along with you. But other times, maybe it gets cold or it rains and you happen to take the sweater, so you put it on. It is in these scenarios where you benefit a lot.

“Never Let the Blood of Your Unborn Children Cry to God for Vengeance.”

Main piece:

(The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and interviewer.)

Interviewer: Can you tell me some of the old stories or wives tales your mother told you?

Informant: The most gross one is about her – her mother, my grandmother, your great great grandmother told my mother about this rich lady that she took care of in Germany – she had a big ole mansion she took care of her, and I guess the lady – uhh, my grandma took care of her when she was dying. And, uhh, she kept telling her – I think her name was Marie – to go over to the closet! Because she kept hearing children crying. And uhh, so, my grandmother told my mother… to never let the blood of your unborn children to cry to god for vengeance. And she always told me. And I thought “what in the heck does THAT mean?!

Interviewer: (laughs)

Informant: I kn- I never – I mea- (laughs). What does that mean?! And then when I – I got older, and they talked about abortion, It finally, I finally put two and two together. The lady must’ve had a lot of abortions – because you know, they were wealthy, and they didn’t want kids to mess up their lifestyle, so she probably had an abortion, and then she – as she laid on her death bed, those little spirits haunted her – or she just had a guilty conscience, and she imagined that. So that’s a kind of weird icky thing.

Interviewer: Do you think that story is true? Or-

Informant: No, It’s true! It’s true. Because it was told to me by my mother, who never lied.

Interviewer: But either way it’s a story warning against abortions.

Informant: Yes.

Background: My informant was born and raised in southern Illinois to very strict Catholic parents. She has strong Irish and Italian heritage. Her mother was a devout and strict Catholic, and she has always been very religious herself, though she has never been overly strict with her children or grandchildren.

Context: The informant is my grandmother, and has always had a proclivity for telling stories, jokes, and wives tales. This piece was selected out of many from a recording of a long night of telling stories in a comfortable environment.

Thoughts: This story is not surprising coming from an “original” teller who was devoutly religious, especially nearly a century ago. The two ways in which the informant’s mother’s religion impact this story are funnily connected, though. I mean to say, I personally find it doubtful that this story was truthfully told by my great-great-grandmother, or that it happened to her. To me, it seems almost obvious that this was simply a tale to frighten young girls out of abortions because the teller was deeply religious, and that anybody could have made it up or spread it around. That is why I believe it to be folklore in the first place. But, my grandmother is nonetheless convinced that the story was true and happened to her grandmother also because of her mother’s religious nature – and feeling sure that she was not lying.

Old Stage Road Ghost

Here is a transcription of my (CB) interview with my informant (CH).

CH: “And so it is a very long old sort of dark road. And it’s kinda windy. And it is super quiet out there, it is creepy quiet. But I sorta always thought that it was peaceful, so I don’t know why they always get freaked out by it. And a lot of kids actually used to go out on this road and drink and party because you just couldn’t hear it and there’s nobody around to call the cops. So there’s tons and tons and tons of stories of this thing that actually seems to occur and happen there. So there’s this woman who walks along the road there, and its supposed to be if you’re out there between 1am and 3am in the morning. And you will see her in a nightgown or just a billowing white dress and her hair is sort of hanging down and flowing, but yeah it was basically the classic tale. But almost everyone says that she’s looking down. And uh… uh.. She will literally appear out of nowhere, and if you pull up next to her she will either disappear, or she will turn and look at you with these sort of sunken eyes. And others have said that if you’re driving she will just all of the sudden appear next to the car, like going as fast as the car. And then she turns and looks at you and disappears. Other people say that their radio gets staticy, and they hear someone just screaming, this blood curdling screaming. Sometimes even over the music, it was just so loud in the car and outside the car at the same time. And they’d see this woman in the middle of the road, you know just right in front of the car, and they’d literally just drive right through her, and she’d disappear. And so the story goes that its a woman who had accepted a ride from a stranger, and he had raped and murdered her brutally and just left her in the field. So, um, yeah.”

CB: “Why do you think people tell the story?”

CH: “I think they tell it to keep young women from walking the streets at night or sneaking out of the house. Because that very well could happen, it has happened, and, uh, it will probably happen again. I think it’s just to keep kids inside their houses at night, instead of going out and walking the roads, you know. It keeps them from partying” 

Background:

My informant grew up in Salinas, and was raised by her mother and grandmother who grew up in the area as well. As a kid and teenager she spent a large amount of her time at or around Old Stage Road. The ghost stories surrounding the road are so notorious that I’ve heard many of them without having lived in Salinas, or ever even been to the road. Old Stage Road was a very popular teenage hangout spot, particularly in the 80’s for cruising. 

Context:

I interviewed my informant over the phone, and we had a light and casual conversation. I had heard of the road and that it was haunted many times before, but this was the first time I heard the details of some of the stories associated with the road.

Thoughts:
I think that it’s most interesting that the stories surrounding Old Stage Road are often associated with a car. I think this association reflects the importance of teenage car culture as my informant was growing up. This ghost story in particular places a heavy emphasis on proper ways to behave within car culture. It acts as a warning for young women against getting into the car with strangers. My informant cites the story as acting as a warning for all kids against going out. However, I think that ghost stories often encourage young people to go exploring. I think it’s more likely that this story was spread as a warning to women about accepting rides from strangers, and gained popularity through its appeal and connection to the younger generation.

For another variation of Old Stage Road haunting see Reddit post “Old Stage Road” posted by u/moonriver7811. https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/2op9ed/old_stage_road/

A Bird In The Hand Is Better Than Two In The Bush

Main Piece:

Interviewer: So what proverb did you want to share with me today?

Subject: A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

Interviewer: What does that mean?

Subject: It means… what you have and what you can see and what you can hold is better than what you might be able to get somewhere else… that’s uncertain.

Interviewer: Huh!

Subject: In other words, go with certainty.

Interviewer: Who told you that one? Do you remember who told you it?

Subject: Old people told me it. Believe it or not even older than me.

Interviewer: Wow. That’s pretty old.

Context: The subject is a middle-aged white man, born and raised in Tiverton, Rhode Island, and currently residing in Charleston, South Carolina. His parents are Ashkenazi Jews and his ancestors come from Russia. He is my father, and we are currently quarantined together in Charleston due to the Coronavirus pandemic. One evening after dinner, I asked him to share any folklore he heard of when he was younger.

Interpretation: I had never heard this proverb before. I did more research on it and found that the subject’s account of the proverb differed slightly from the more popular version I found upon which goes, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” The proverb is a well-known English proverb, and was likely adapted from other languages. Specifically, warnings against risk-taking are apparently very common for English Proverbs. The proverb was likely brought to America by English migrants between the 17th and 18th century. Based on what I personally know about the subject and his older family, this proverb is very applicable to them. They definitely value certainty and safety, and are not the risk-taking types. The subject has certainly tried to instill those values onto myself.

For more on this English Proverb, go to:

https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/a-bird-in-the-hand.html

Getting too caught up with yourself can cause confusion – Mexican Proverb

Main Piece:

“No te subas al ladrillo que te mareas”

Transliteration:

Don’t get on the brick because you will get dizzy 

Translation:

Getting too caught up with yourself can cause confusion

Background:

Informant

Nationality: Mexican

Location: Guadalajara, Mexico

Language: Spanish

Context and Analysis:

I asked my informant, a 17-year-old female when she first heard this saying. She said it used to be a phrase her dad would say to her to make sure she did not let her privilege make her feel superior to others. She said her father would tell her this saying when she was acting bratty or snobby. She says she comes from a privileged family and her father sometimes worries that she is not working hard enough for the things she has. My informant says it is easy to fall victim to the rewards of things and to act like she deserves everything she has when in reality she did not earn it herself. She says she also believes this saying is meant to prevent people from thinking they know everything and from showcasing knowledge they are feigning. The informant says her father has tried to instill in her the value of admitting not knowing something and learning it as opposed to making it up and falling out of people’s trust and favor. 

I agree with the informant about the meaning of this proverb. Getting on a brick signifies elevating yourself from others. By getting on a brick the person becomes taller and people have to look up to them. This can be interpreted as representative of status. Having more and being of higher status can make it easy for people to overindulge and think they can have everything or deserve everything because of what they have or the title they hold. Once a person begins feeling deserving or above others it is easy for them to fall out of favor and lose what they have. As the proverb describes getting dizzy or caught up in everything one has. Getting dizzy and losing balance on an elevated surface can result in falling. This proverb is meant to warn people from the dangers of falling if one gets too caught up with what they have and who they think they are. This proverb can also signify losing sight of oneself by getting too caught up in material things or a reputation.

 

Liquor before beer and you’re in the clear – American Drinking Proverb

Main Piece:

“Liquor before beer and you’re in the clear, beer before liquor never been sicker.”

Context and Analysis:

My informant is a 19-year-old male. The informant claims he first heard this proverb when he was in ninth grade. It was one of the first times he was consuming alcohol and was not paying attention to the type of alcohol he was consuming. He was alternating between drinking beer and simultaneously taking shots of vodka. When one of his friends said to him the proverb. He disregarded the advice as it was too late, and continued to drink. The informant says he did not end the night feeling very well; however, he does not live by the proverb for in other situations when he has followed the proverb’s advice the night has still ended badly.

I have also heard this proverb before and know many people that do live by it. On many occasions, I have even heard it is bad to mix any type of alcohol. Often I do not hear this while I’m in a setting where alcohol is being consumed, but after. Most often it is during the day or after a night of alcohol consumption when someone will make a reference to the proverb, and claim the person who had a bad night was at fault because they did not follow the proverb’s advice. After looking further into this proverb, I found many sources claiming it was a myth. One of the most reputable sources I found was by CBS News, they claim “hangovers are more dependent on the total amount of alcohol consumed, rather than the order of drinking.” The rhyme of the proverb makes it catchy and easy to remember. I believe this is a significant factor in what makes this proverb so popular. Keeping in mind my informant’s age I also believe it is a proverb most often found in younger circles where there is less exposure to alcohol. Most teens are still in the experimental phase of alcohol consumption in their lives, and therefore are more susceptible to catchy phrases such as these that are not true.

https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/14-facts-about-drinking-are-you-misinformed/8/

American Street Crack Superstition

Main Piece:

“Step on a crack and break your mom’s back”

Context and Analysis:

The informant claims the superstition is common knowledge. When asked when she first heard it she insisted not knowing when she picked it up, she just assumed it was common knowledge, “Everyone knows that when you are walking, you are not supposed to step on a crack it’s just what everyone says.” The informant does not know where the superstition originates from. The informant does not believe this superstition is true and therefore she does not apply it to her daily life. The informant states, “I know it is not true because I have stepped on a lot of cracks and nothing has happened.”

Like most superstitions, this one uses the threat of something valuable to encourage people to follow it. If something valuable is at stakes many times even if people do not believe in the superstition they will follow it to avoid any potential curse. This superstition emphasizes the dangers of stepping on a crack which can lead to breaking your mother’s back.

It is interesting to note the informant’s belief that this superstition is known worldwide. Often when someone does not know the origin of where something comes from or if they heard it at an early enough age, they assume everyone is familiar with the same things they are. Due to the understanding my informant has of the superstition I want to infer she heard it when she was in her early childhood years.

I also think it is important to note my informants reasoning as to what makes this superstition relevant. She states ‘everyone’ knows this. By emphasizing the use of a lot of people following a tradition or employing a saying, this gives any work reliability and validation.

There also seems to be a correlation with how difficult the superstition is to follow and how many people follow it. Many people follow superstitions when it does not inconvenience them. Therefore, when you have a superstition like this where it takes a lot of effort to avoid cracks everywhere one goes, it is less likely people will follow it.  Among children, this superstition can act as a game where a child will aim to avoid the cracks on the pavement and if he fails the punishment is the belief that his or her mom’s back will be broken.

Don’t look for problems – Mexican Proverb

Main Piece:

“No le busquen chichis a las culebras”

Transliteration:

Don’t look for boobs in the snakes

Translation:

Don’t look for problems where there are none

Background:

Informant

Nationality: Mexican

Location: Guadalajara, Mexico

Language: Spanish

Context and Analysis:

My informant is a 71-year-old female. When I asked her if she knew of any common sayings of phrases of wisdom she giggled a little and responded, “No le busquen chichis a las culebras.” I asked where she recalled this saying from, and she claims to have heard it at a rural town where her family owned a countryside home, El Rancho Platanar. The town is called Plan de Barrancas in Jalisco, Mexico.   She says the proverb stook with her because of the humorous language employed. Her family was accustomed to driving up from the city they lived in, Guadalajara, to the house and spent weeklong holidays there when she was a young girl. When they were staying at the house she would visit the local town with her siblings and that is where she first heard the saying. My informant does not recall the context the proverb was used in, but she explained to me the meaning of the proverb. My informant belives the proverb is used to deter people from looking for problems when they don’t have problems.  The informant claims the phase means this because snakes do not have boobs, so if you look for the boobs in a snake not only will you not find any but you will anger the snake which is a problem. 

The phrase utilizes colloquial and crude language which I believe is the reason my informant has remembered it since such a young age. As a young girl, from a wealthy family, she was not exposed to this type of language making it exciting and new. The phrase employes the use of animals, in particular, a snake. This gives the audience a clue as to where it came from, the countryside, but also the connotations associated with snakes. Snakes have a reputation for being evil, bad, and sneaky. An example of this is the role the snake plays in the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible( the snake is the bad influence that convinced Eve to pick the apple). The snake in this proverb is representative of a problem. I believe the reference to boobs in the proverb is in association to the dangers of messing with a woman, for there is a bias, especially in Mexico, that angry women are fiercer than men. One would not want to mess with a snake, but if it is a female snake, then one would certainly not want to mess with it. The proverb is warning its audience not to look for problems where there are one because snakes do not have boobs, and angering a female snake by searching for its boobs is not only pointless but also dangerous.

 

Clubbing and Needles Urban Legend

Informant: “From what I was told is that at clubs or music events there are some really crappy people who make it their mission to infect people with HIV with syringes that have the blood of an infected person. So, like, you are dancing and someone comes up to you and stabs you with a needle and boom, you are infected. I don’t know if this ever happened, but it seems possible I guess, and because it’s possible I don’t mess around with any sketchy clubs.”

Context: The informant is the brother of the collector and spoke about this legend during a discussion about parties. The informant said that they first heard of this legend from their girlfriend at the time in high school at an LMFAO concert at the Orpheum.

Informant Analysis: When he analyzed what this legend means, he said that it is most likely some warning of “sketchy clubs” and that people shouldn’t take drugs from people they do not know. He noted that even though he does not necessarily believe this legend is true, it is entertaining and scary enough to have made him tell others about it.

Collector Analysis: While I believe this legend may be some sort of protection warning to any person attending music festivals or clubs while also serving as an entertaining horror story, it also may stand for other fears young people may have at party events. In particular, when we are speaking of needles and partying, it is possibly that this legend is in reference to certain hard drugs that can be shared at these events. In any situation where needles are involved or being shared, there is great fear of contracting something from someone. This fear may have inspired the legend. It may also be analyzed from the angle of the danger of being unaware in a party atmosphere where people let their guard down and are preyed upon unexpectedly. We can also analyze why the legend refers to HIV in particular and not some other disease or drug. This legend may serve as a warning to young people having intercourse with people they do not know who may have HIV. We can see that there is an insidious perpetrator who infects a victim while the victim is enjoying themselves, which may closely relate to a warning of having many unknown sexual partners. Lastly, it should be noted that in clubs or music events there is a large grouping of unknown people who are, while at the event, in a sort of forced community and friendship. The fear of being hurt by an unknown person who is supposed to be a friend is a great use of the idea of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

Waking up earlier will not make the sun rise sooner – Mexican Proverb

Main Piece:

“No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano.”

 Transliteration: 

Not much early rises earlier.

Translation:

Waking up earlier will not make the sun rise sooner.

 Background:

Informant

Nationality: Mexican

Location: Guadalajara, Mexico

Language: Spanish

Context and Analysis:

The informant is a 78-year-old male. I asked the informant if he had any sayings, legends, or superstitions he would like to share. The informant smiled and simply said, “No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano.” I asked him what this proverb means to him and if he knew where he had first heard it. The informant went on to tell me about his first assignment as a newly graduated civil engineer on his first solo project. He was so eager to impress his boss that he told his second in command to meet him at the construction site at 5:00 am. Despite multiple attempts his partner made to try to convince him otherwise, my informant claims not to have listened and reprimanded him for being lazy. The next morning when they arrived at 5:00 am the sun had not risen and there was no light. They had to wait two more hours until they could begin working. As they waited my informant’s partner said to him, “No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano.” 

This proverb speaks to the importance of timing. It is often understood that by getting to a particular place early or rising earlier it will lead to more efficiency. A popular proverb representative of this is, ‘the early bird gets the worm’. However, not enough is said to finding the right time. As my informant claims it is important to pay attention to one’s surroundings and gain context before making a decision as opposed to blindly following what one thinks is right. One cannot control every variable in life; sometimes it is more valuable to let nature take its course and adapt to the situation. By doing this, a person is more effective than if they are trying to fight the flow of life wasting energy by attempting to control every variable.