Yemeni Proverbs for All Occasions [Archives:2001/27/Culture]

July 2 2001

Saad Shareef Taher
Teacher of English
Yemeni proverbs, are the vital facet of the Yemeni culture because they are the spoken tongue of their daily public activities. They are the mirror that reflects 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 minute details of the simple Yemeni society and have an actual picture of whatever is in their mind. From the large number of such proverbs extant I’ve chosen some glittering stars.
(Ma igdarat tassid taatharat ala il mihwash)

Mihwash: a small stick used for grueling.
Meaning: She couldn’t gruel successfully. She excused herself saying that it was because of the stick (mihwash)
Implication: When one fails to do something perfectly blames it on others (as excuse)
Comment: Some people can’t achieve something they search for excuses.
(Sarig mbahrir)

Meaning: Though he is a thief, he stares angrily to scare others pretending he is not a thief.
Comment: Some people know that they are wrong but they try to prove the opposite by shouting or giving fierce looks offense is the best defense.
Implication: Someone commits a mistake but doesn’t confess or someone behaves impolitely.
(Illi ma bish ma’ah eid ygool aleid eid alafyah)

Meaning: He who is unable to buy new clothes to participate in the Eid says ‘since I am well and healthy that is my Eid.’
Comment: Some people, especially the poor who are too poor to buy new clothes for the Eid, feel bad on that day, they try to console themselves or their kids, that good health is a big Eid because Eid has no meaning if one has new clothes but a sick body.
Implication: One mocks at things he lacks. Short people mock at the tall, or one who cannot buy grapes says it is sour.
(Khadhra bi yadi wala yana’a bi yad ghairi)

Meaning: An unripe fruit is better for me to have than let it be eaten by others after it becomes ripe.
Comment: To express their selfishness, selfish people wish to pick unripe fruit though it is tasteless. That is better they think, than leaving it till the time of gathering (when others might get it).
Implication: One should exploit opportunities before they go out of hand.
(Men kan abooh yadhlim annas, kan il qadha bi iyalah)

Meaning: Some whose father was unjust to people, his kids will pay for it.
Comment: Fate is just. Anyone who treats others unjustly will pay for it sooner or later.
Implication: Warning an unjust or a tyrant ruler.
(Ya taweel ma yinfa’ak taolek yiji al gaseer yamsik bhloolek)

Meaning: You that are tall, your height will never serve you. A short one may come and catch you by the throat.
Comment: Some powerful or rich people feel proud of their power or richness. Whoever people who are less than them can harm or hurt them. Like a mighty lion needs a rat to free him from a hunter’s nest.
Implication: One is proud of doing something and another who is less than him, comes and spoils it.
(Belash gal ouzinu)

Meaning: When someone says something is free of charge, the other says ‘give me more’.
Comment: Some people look for free things like public meals, charity etc. thinking those things are more delicious because they are free.
Implication: Refers to exaggerated greediness.