“The monkey in his mom’s eye is a gazelle” – Arabic Proverb

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Palestinian
Age: 75
Occupation: Retired
Residence: Long Beach
Date of Performance/Collection: 5/2/2021
Primary Language: Arabic
Other Language(s): English, French

Context:

She learned it from her mom and grandma in Jordan. She said that the proverb means that a mom never finds a fault in her child.

Text:

Original Script: القرد بعين امه غزال

Transliteration: El ‘ird bi aine immo ghazal

Literal Translation: The monkey in his mom’s eye is gazelle

Smooth Translation: The monkey in his mom’s eyes is a gazelle

Thoughts:

I found this proverb to be really funny because although I’ve seen moments like what the proverb describes, it’s generally the opposite in my family: it’s usually the aunts and grandmas that see the child as better than they really are, and it’s usually the moms who are quick to tell their children their faults. The background information that one must have to understand the proverb is that monkeys are seen as ugly, but gazelles are seen as beautiful (there are love poems called ghazals because of that connection). Thus, the proverb implies that even if someone is as ugly as a monkey, their mom would see them as beautiful as a gazelle, which comments on the strength of family ties: the love of a mother would gloss over all the child’s faults.