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Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

I am a self proclaimed coffee addict and Executive Director of a non profit missions agency working primarily in the Mexican cities of Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Ensenada. I've been married for over 30 years to Chelle, and we have one grown son, Joseph, a graduate of Auburn University in Alabama.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Language and Culture, Opening the Window

Many people set out to learn another language. For me that language was Spanish. It was never something I had thought much about when I was young. In fact in high school, I followed my brother and took 4 years of French.

But then somewhere in the middle of life as a young adult, God grabbed hold of me and I was sent in a completely new direction, to Mexico. Kicking and screaming I went and after time, finally decided I needed to learn the language.

Unfortunately, many believe mastery of a language ends when they are technically proficient. Which means I will never get there, but I believe there is more.

I think to really understand a culture, you need to get to a point where you understand the inside stuff. Like the jokes and those pesky sayings. You know what I mean. Stuff like "A stitch in time saves nine" and "A penny saved is a penny earned." The sayings that those on the inside know, and which can give you a window to understanding the culture.

One of my favorite books is titled "Folk Wisdom of Mexico" by Jeff M. Sellers. It is a collection of proverbs and sayings from Mexico. I've included a few of those here for you.

Think of it as a small opening of the window, and enjoy the view.

En boca cerrada, no entran moscas.
Flies don’t enter a closed mouth.

Cuando hay menos burros, hay más olotes.
When there are fewer donkeys, there is more to eat.

Guarda tu ayuda para quien te la pida.
Keep your counsel arrested, until it’s requested.

El que nunca va a tu casa, en la suya no te quiere.
He who never goes to your home doesn’t want you in his.

La verdad padece, pero no perece.
Truth suffers, but never perishes.

Dios habla por el que calla.
God speaks for the man who holds his peace.

Sólo lo barato se compra con el dinero.
Money only buys what is cheap.

Cuando joven, de ilusiones; cuando viejo, de recuerdos.
While young, it’s all dreams; when old, all memories.

El sueño es alimento de los pobres.
Dreaming is the food of the poor.

El sol es la cobija del pobre.
The sun is the blanket of the poor.

Comments on "Language and Culture, Opening the Window"


Blogger James' Muse said ... (2:54 PM) : 

You forgot:

Sale vale! (okey dokey)

Nada nada limonada.

Just kidding. There isn't folk wisdom there, but I still like the sayings.


Blogger Diana said ... (5:48 PM) : 

I am fond of "Cria cuervos y te sacaran los ojos" Raise ravens and they'll pluck your eyes out :)


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