Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mexican Dichos: Pearls of Wisdom

My mother, depite a 4th grade education, was literally a fountain of wisdom and it showed best in her vast store and use of proverbs. Not only were the proverbs often true, but humorous too. Timing, to me, was the fine art of "dichos". Each had to be applied at a precise moment before, during and immediately after a life experience. The poignancy of the moment was sometimes an ephiphany for the recipient. The poetry and play of words is part of their enduring beauty. Many years ago in my Chicano Literature class in college, I assigned my students to gather dichos from their own families, and some of the following were the result. Others, I recall from my mother. I will be posting additions to this entry as I go, so if you enjoy it, tune in on a regular basis to keep up with new ones:
When a young person is amazed that an elder was absolutely correct in predicting a result:
"El diablo no es diablo por diablo si no por viejo." (The devil is not smart because he is the devil but because his is old).
When you spoke evil or spread gossip of others: "El que escupe pa' arriba, en la cara le cae" (When you spit into the air, spit will fall in your face).
When you fell in love with someone you couldn't have or who didn't love you back: "Amor de lejos; amor de pendejos!" (Love from afar is the love of a fools).
When you made fun of, ridiculed or mocked an old person: "Como me te veo me vi; como me vez, te veras!" (The way I see you, I once was; the way you see me, you shall one day be!)
When you begin to make excuses for failing to live up to or do what you bragged you would do: "El que es gallo en cualquier gallinera canta" (He who is true rooster can crow in any hen house)
When you messed with somone or something which should have been left alone: "Agua que no has de beber, dejala correr" (Water that you are not going to drink, let it run)
When you spoke out of turn, were caught in a lie, said things you shouldn't have: "En boca cerrada, no entran moscas" (When your mouth is closed, flies to not come in)
When someone did you a favor and you expected more or were ungrateful: "De favor te abazan, y quieres que te aprieten!" (Your'e lucky someone hugged you, and yet you want them to squeeze you)
When you exaggerate or misinterpret someone's affections or intentions: "Nada mas te dicen 'mi amor' y ya quieres tu casa aparte" (No sooner does someone call you "my love", than you already want your own private apartment)
When you expect that today things will be different than yesterday: "Como se acuesta, se levanta" (The way you go to bed is the way you wake up the next day - actually an Aztec proverb)
When you argue that others are more to blame for something gone wrong than you are: "Tanto peca el que mata la vaca, como el que detiene la pata" (He who just holds the leg, is equally as guilty as he who kills it)
When you are impatient and expect quick results: "No cuando sale el sol calienta, si no cuando va subiendo" (The sun does not heat at sunrise, but later as it rises)
When you try to defend the dubious friends you are running around with: "Dime con quien andas, y te dire quien eres" (Tell me who you run with and I will tell you who you are)
When someone succeeds in taking more than his share: "El que tiene mas saliva, come mas pinole" (He who has the most saliva will eat the most pinole - a sweet powdery stuff that when eaten, saps every ounce of saliva in your mouth!)
When someone hoards or is stingy or never shares with others: "Ni traga, ni deja tragar!" (Neither does he eat, or let others eat)
When a person does all for others, but never anything for his home and family: "Candil de la calle; obscuridad de su casa" (He is a lampost in the street, but there is darkness in his own house)
When someone believes that to lie will get him/her out of trouble: "Cae mas pronto un hablador que un cojo" (A liar falls long before a lame person)
When a son or daughter turns out just like mom or dad: "De tal palo, tal astilla" (From the same branch, somes the same sliver)
When someone is cruel or heartless: "Ojos que no ven; corazon que no siente" (Eyes that do not see equals a heart which has no feelings)
One of my absolute favorites is for the person who keep insisting he "does not recall" having said or done something dreadful: "No hay borracho que como lumbre!" (Not even a drunk will eat fire - he's not that stupid or "forgetful" We seem to have a lot of politicians victims to this phenomena!)

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