A proverb can be described as a short, well-known pithy saying, stating a general truth or piece of advice about how people should live that principle. It expresses a belief that is generally thought to be true. An English example would be ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’.
There is often a cultural richness in the origins of these sayings. I was delighted when the Tyler Liebenberg, assistant general manager of the Oyster Box Hotel gave me the delightful book, ‘Wisdom from Africa: a collection of proverbs’. I like the way the compiler, Dianne Stewart provides each proverb in the relevant African language, states the proverb in English and then gives an intriguing explanation.
Two examples are:
This collection intrigued me and proverbs were still on my mind when I read an e-mail from my son, Gary. ‘Per the attached image I've decided to try to grow an avo tree. The problem is that the cats think that the water to grow the tree is for their drinking!’
To put this in context, he and his wife have recently bought their first house in Sydney, Australia. At home here in South Africa, we love our avo (avocado pear) tree and relish the fruits that it bears profusely. So I was amused as I read his message and looked at the photo.
My response was in the form of a new proverb:
There are more ways to grow an avo than just from the cats’ drinking water.
Perhaps I can’t yet call this a ‘proverb’ because going back to the first paragraph of this article, my saying may not ‘expresses a belief that is generally thought to be true’. If I get enough readers telling me they believe it is true, possibly I could call it a ‘proverb’? So, please let me know what you think.
This is such fun! Have you ever tried making up your own proverbs? Try it!
A proverb a day keeps the mind at play.
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