Yemeni Proverbs for All Occasions [Archives:2001/31/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:
Proverbs for social purposes:
1- [Al wejh misbah il beden.]
Meaning: The face is the lamp of the body.
Comment: Appearance sometimes symbolizes inside.
Meaning: Some people judge others according to their appearance.
Situation: when describing beauty.
2- [Athenian fisool ghelebu jeed.]
Meaning: Two bad people defeat a good one.
Comment: A large number of cowards can defeated by abundant of cowards.
Situation: When describing strength.
3- [Raid ma minneh meter.]
Meaning: Thunder without rain
Comment: many times loud thunder which hurts ears doesn’t bring rain. This proverb is like “much ado about nothing” or “barking dogs do not bite? And this refers to shouting people who are unable to do anything.
4- [Jirthi il herreh ylahig jirthi il beit.]
IL herreh is the space between farms.
Meaning: A rat of such outside area chases home rat.
Comment: some strangers try to harm the natives.
Situation: when a stranger lifts his hand on the citizen.
5- [Taiafat almal omra.]
Meaning: to visit your farm or possessions to keep an eye on them is like going to Mecca for pilgrimage.
Comment: To look after your work is like worshipping.
Situation: when advising others to look after their interests.
* That concern women:
1- [il bint wimmeha ya reb dhummeha]
Meaning: God guard the mother and her daughter.
Comment: when a mother and her daughter like each other, good people pray to God to protect them and keep their love forever.
Situation: when there are tow similar and lonely things, a prayer to God to guard them is done.
2- [il mareh bfummeha wil zenneh bkummeha]
Meaning: you can judge a woman by her speech and a garment by its sleeve.
Comment: women’s speech reflects her personality. And since the Yemeni woman is always veiled, people evaluate her beauty and behavior by her way of speaking. Which could be recognized as the sleeve of a garment which could be seen and evaluated.
Situation: When evaluating a woman.
3- [Slah ilmereh fummeha.]
Meaning: woman’s weapon is her mouth.
Comment: It is known that woman is talkative and she can defeat others by using her tongue as a weapon.
Situation: When describing women’s strength.
4- [shim il idha shimmeha.. il bint bint ummeha.]
Meaning: smelling a stick of a plant gives you a whole idea of what it is. Like a daughter who reflects her mother.
Comment: A daughter is a copy of her mother in beauty and behaviors.
Situation: when describing tow identical things.
5. [ya waladi lo fa’alow llneswan soq… dbasat alkurrath fawq roosehen.]
Meaning: If there is a market for women, herbs will dry on their heads.
Comment: women’s conversations continue for a long time. If they meet in the market putting herbs on their heads the herbs will dry though they are always wet.
Situation: when blaming talkative women.