Culture in Rhyming (Posted 3-14-2011)

As I study with my tutor, I’m not only learning a language, but a culture. Recently, when we reviewed a some different common rhymes in Spanish, it lead to some interesting discussions about the value system of Spaniards. I thought I would give you a few examples, understanding of course that you lose some of the rhyme with the translation.

  1. “When the river sounds, water is being carried along.” – Essentially this means, if there is a rumor circulating about, the chances are that there is truth to the rumor.
  2. “This day is longer than a day without bread.” – Obviously, you hope no one says this about you on their way out from having dinner with you.
  3. “Water that you don’t plan on drinking, just let it run.” – This is important. According to my tutor, it displays the value that Spaniards have either being all in or all out. For our work in the church, it is so important that we offer more than a half-hearted commitment, even as we learn the language.
  4. “What begins badly, finishes badly.” In other words, if you are going to get something started, in Spain there is a value for giving it more than a half-hearted try, scrapping it, and starting over. Though Americans may value innovation, uncertainty, and risk-taking, this might be tougher for a Spaniard to swallow.
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