Yemeni Proverbs for All Occasions [Archives:2001/46/Culture]

November 12 2001

Saad Shareef Taher 
Iraqi Teacher of English 
Yemeni proverbs are an essential part of Yemeni culture because they are the spoken expression used by Yemenis during their daily public activities. They are the mirror that reflects simple thinking by which the people are expressing their daily life, habits and customs. They are the living records of politics, agriculture and wisdom throughout history. One can grasp by them minute details of the simple Yemeni society and have an actual picture of what is on their mind. From the large number of such proverbs, I have chosen the following glittering gems of Al-Nadirah district, Ibb: 
alsheib ma bih eib. 
Meaning: Having grey hair because of old age is not a shame. 
Comment: It is not shameful to have grey hair because of years, for it is quite natural and it is the law of life. Yet youth is not in appearance but in the heart. 
Situation: When young women refuse old men, especially in marriage. 
il sabir dhafir
Meaning: He who is patient is always successful. 
Comment: People who are patient in facing troubles ultimately win. Therefore, it is wise to be patient in everything. 
Situation: Teaching young people patience or advising one who suffers much in his life. 
fum wela bidha’a 
Meaning: To have a clear tongue (i.e. talking wisely and rationally) is better than having goods which you can’t manage well. 
Comment: Talking wisely is a treasure. Meanwhile treasure doesn’t mean money only, for some rich people waste money by spending it at random. 
Situation: When praising these who talk wisely. 
thi ma ma’ah amel yidower leh jamel. 
Meaning: He who has no job should search for a camel. 
Comment: It is better to have a camel to take care of than being jobless. 
Situation: Urging one to work. 
men ekel il eish deg il jeish. 
Meaning: He who eats well is able to face an army. 
Comment: Hungry workers are powerless, and food is fuel. 
Situation: Describing the value of food, especially to children. 
mkessir gheleg elf medar 
Meaning: A destroyer can defeat thousands of earthenware makers. 
Comment: It is difficult to build, but easy to destroy; or builders need much time to construct a building, but the explosive needs only seconds. 
Situation: Warning an inexperienced one not to spoil experienced labor. 
men ketheret zeletah ma a’ajebeteh meretuh. 
Meaning: He whose money increases doesn’t feel satisfied with his wife. 
Comment: Some poor married men are happy with their wives, but when they become rich, they see their wives as ugly. 
Money changes feelings. 
Situation: Describing poor powerless people who seek changes after becoming powerful. 
Wetti soutish yeghle sherttish 
Meaning: My daughter, as long as you keep quiet, much money will paid for your marriage. 
Comment: Most men hate talkative women or those who speak loudly. 
Situation: Advising young women to behave quietly and modestly. 
men regg’a ma iri. 
Meaning: It is better to wear mended clothes than being without clothes or bare. 
Situation: Urging others to manage their affairs well.