Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sayings from the islands

[Note:  Updated on January 10, 2012, with corrections from Sonya of my original interpretations.]

I recently had a chance to visit a good friend, Sonya Nelthropp, in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.  We worked together years ago at the MA Water Resources Authority, and Sonya later had an instrumental role in creating the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority.  We later learned that both of our families knew each other over the course of many decades in that they were among the "old" St. Thomas crowd.  (Here, for example, is one of mine, and here is one of hers.)

Anyway, Sonya related to me a number of old island sayings, and I share them here with you with some explanation:

He who does not hear will feel.  (If you don't obey the first time, expect corporal punishment the next time.)

When a fish comes out of water and tells you it's deep, it's deep.  (When someone of experience tells you something, pay attention.)

When your hand is in a tiger's mouth, take time to draw it out.  (When you are in a precarious situation or at a disadvantage, move cautiously or diplomatically.)

No so cat walk is so he mouse.  (Here, mouse is a verb, as in hunting mice.  Don't judge a book by its cover.)

The higher a monkey climbs, the more his nakedness shows.  (A statement about the growth in arrogance as a person moves up the chain of command, especially when he starts out a bit full of himself.)

He gave her a basket to carry water.  (Said when someone malevolently offers advice or assistance that is not useful, intending to make your task more difficult.)

[New one:] Sit on a crooked sick and cut a straight one.   (If you can't change your situation, bide your time and look around for a better opportunity.)

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