Yemen Proverbs for all occasions [Archives:2001/41/Culture]

October 8 2001

Saad Shareef Taher
Iraqi Teacher of English,
Yemeni proverbs, are an important part of the Yemeni culture because they are representative of daily activities and situations. They are the words that reflect simple people’s thinking by which their daily life, habits and customs are truly expressed. They are the live records of politics, agriculture and wisdom throughout history. One can grasp through them details of the simple Yemeni society and have a picture of whatever might be on their mind. Here are some rural proverbs of Al-Nadirah-Ibb
1- Mushartta bil teref wela mkhange bil wesett.

Meaning: putting conditions before any contract or agreement is better than quarreling during half way.
Comment: in any contract or agreement, people should sit together to discuss their conditions before signing it. It will be better than quarreling and shouting when work faces difficulties.
Situation: when advising people who want to start a project.
2- Megtool ebooh wemsa mrezzih il bab.

Meaning: Though the son of the slain father has the social right to kill his murderer, he chooses to hide behind shut doors at night.
Comment: cowards always live in panic even if they are rightful.
Situation: when one faces danger and expects another. Or when blaming cowards.
3-Ygool Ali bin Zaid: indi tgoom il giameh wela haneen il migarid

Meaning: Ali bin Zaid was as ancient wise man (a popular philosopher). He was well-known for his wisdom, especially concerning agriculture. One of his sayings: “As far as I’m concerned, doom with its horror and divine punishment is better than returning of locusts again.”Comment: locusts are quite harmful and are a very deadly enemy to farmers.
Situation: urging farmers to fight locusts in agriculture.
4-jarek il gereeb wela akhook il beyeed

Meaning: a neighbor is more beneficial than a remote brother.
Comment: in time of need, a next-door neighbor is of better help than a brother who lives in another city.
Situation: when urging others to respect neighbors, reminding them of prophet Mohammed (p.b.u.h) saying “your neighbor, then your brother.”

5-Idil sraj wena atfeeh.

Meaning: Give me the kerosene lamp and I will extinguish it.
Comment: when you order someone lazy to do something and he uses the excuse of inexperience, unless you share his work.
Situation: when blaming lazy people.
6- Jehd il meileeh jehdeh wel shoom leu awger leh awger.

Meaning: a good man will be praised for whatever he does while a bad one will be looked on as bad, even when he does good things.
Comment: one can be nice and gentle by heart, not only by face.
Situation: when throwing light on good behaviors, while at the same time scorning bad ones.
7- thi ma yisebbeh ma yighedda win tghedda gheda il weil.

Meaning: He who doesn’t wake up early to work, never eats lunch. If he has lunch, surely it will be a poor one.
Comment: people should get up early to work because it will certainly bring them a delicious meal. Lazy people will be served nothing, and if they get something to eat that will be left out food.
Situation: when urging others to work.
8-issebooh il rooh wil ghada ma teyesser.

Meaning: breakfast is a main meal, while lunch is less.
Comment: Yemenis and some other nations normally have breakfast at about ten in the morning, considering it an important meal. Other meals have less importance as they are usually busy chewing qat in the afternoons.
Situation: praising a traditional habit of breakfast is similar to a medical wisdom, “Have breakfast with princes, lunch with the rich, and dinner with the poor”.
9- ma hed yitfil min fummuh la thignuh.

Meaning: no one spits on his beard.
Comment: the beard is a respected part of the body as far as Arabs and Muslims are concerned. Spitting on something is considered as a scorn or insult, so no one spits on his beard, metaphorically meaning that no one talks badly about himself.
Situation: when others cover their mistakes e.g. a thief never admits to being one.
10- men khalla min ashah asbeh yerah.

Meaning: he who spares some of his dinner will see it or make use of it in the morning.
Comment: people should save some of what they own for times of need e.g. never waste wealth at random. For a white penny will be useful on a black day.
Situation: urging others to be economical in their spending, prizing those who plan their life successfully.