Yemeni Proverbs for All Occasions [Archives:2001/29/Culture]
Saad Shareef Taher
Iraqi 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 gems:
1. (Jawib il dai’i walau bmultam)
Meaning: Answer who asks you even if he wants to slap you.
Comment: You have to answer anyone who calls you, whatever his call my be.
Implication: When urging to respect a caller.
2. (Dari mamura wala garya kharab)
Meaning: It is better to have an inhabited house than a ruined village.
Comment: One should be satisfied with one’s fortune or luck and never think of more.
Implication: When advising others to be satisfied with what they have.
3. (La hawla wala goowa min jelset il zooowa)
Meaning: To be free even without work is better than sitting in a corner of the house.
Comment: When a man is workless e may sit at home and begin to quarrel with children.
Implication: When censuring idleness.
4. (Men kether hdarah gel mugdarah)
Meaning: He who talks much (uselessly) is unrespectable.
Comment: People never respect talkative ones.
Implication: When blaming prattle.
5. (Men dawarah kulluh fatuh kulluh)
Meaning: He who wants to possess everything gets nothing.
Comment: Some people try to work incredibly to get as much as possible but finally get nothing specially after death.
Implication: When blaming greediness.
6. (Men akel bil thintein ikhteneq)
Meaning: He who eats with both hands chokes.
Comment: Some people are greedy enough to get much, so they do two or more jobs at the same time.
Implication: When restraining greedy people not to do two jobs at the same time.
7. (Ala’gil zeena ya hassina)
Meaning: Behaving rationally is too good or it is too good to behave reasonably.
Comment: People blame unstable girls especially those who behave impolitely.
(1) When urging others to behave quietly
(2) Those who intend to hurt others.
8. (Almhajjab la kharej taa’jab)
Meaning: He who is kept at home for a long time, will be surprised with everything he sees.
Comment: If people isolate themselves from society, they will be shocked with every new thing because life develops.
Implication: When some people feel surprised at whatever they are not familiar with.
9. (Weld il weil la yurgid wala yraggid ahleh)
Meaning: A tiresome boy doesn’t sleep and never lets his parents sleep.
Comment: Troublesome boys always bring trouble to their relatives because they cannot control themselves.
Implication: When describing impolite boys.
10. (Btool il weil ygharrid min awel tilim)
Tilim: a narrow small ditch created by ploughing
Meaning: A foolish ploughman sings at the first tilim.
Comment: It is known that farmers sing after feeling tired to reactivate each other; since the ploughman is foolish he sings at the beginning itself.
(1) When restraining foolish farmers.
(2) When a fool joins every happy or dad occasion.
11. (Aldeek yzgi min weset il beidhah)
Meaning: A chick crows when it is inside the egg.
Comment: A good description of intelligence. As this chick, intelligent kids show their talents at the very early age.
Implication: When describing gifted children.
12. (Men beda’ bil showma ysbir als magdhaha)
Meaning: He who begins with evil should bear its mischief.
Comment: Anyone who intends to commit evil behavior should expect evil results.
(1) When warning evil people.
(2) When someone thinks of a risk in commerce, that is, an unguaranteed project.
13. (Yistahil il berd men d’heyaa’ difah)
Meaning: He who wastes his blanket deserves coldness.
Comment: Anyone who neglects what keeps him warm like a stove or blanket carelessly should bear coldness as punishment.
Implication: When urging to keep an eye on possessions. Also a piece of advice to behave wisely.
14. (Itha gaduk bein il mater la tgool issee)
Issee: sound of trembling during cold weather.
Meaning: If you are in rain (willingly or unwillingly) don’t shiver loudly. Be patient.
Comment: When you put yourself in troubles you should face them bravely and never complain.
Implication: When warning intentional wrong doers.
15. (Ma hek jilduk illa dhifruk)
Meaning: Nothing can scratch your skin other than your nails.
Comment: It is fair to serve yourself.
Implication: Urging others to depend on themselves.
16. (Wallah ma agool lek in ebi bil dobli)
Meaning: I swear by Allah I shan’t tell you that my father is in dobli (the cave or his hiding place)
Comment: A foolish boy may show his father’s hiding place to those who chase him as a result of his stupidity.
Implication: When warning others that stupid boys may spoil everything or reveal secrets and they have to be careful of such people.