Proverbs in Ecuador, Language, Culture

Proverbs are statements that either reflect on an action, the future, the past, or are used to interpret a situation. Most of the time no-one knows who wrote the proverb, where it originated or what its intended meaning was; but what we do know is that proverbs are used in every language and in every country around the world. When looking at Ecuadorian Proverbs, many seem to originate from Spain. Still others are mere translations of the most frequently used proverbs in the world.

Proverbs in Ecuador are no different to those of the English language. There are many forms of proverbs, such as proverbs that rhyme, paradox proverbs and alliteration proverbs. It is said that proverbs were studied as far back as the times of Aristotle confirming that proverbs, in their various forms, have been around for centuries. It is surprising how often we use proverbs in our daily lives without even noticing that we have. Looking at everyday proverbs such as “Forgive and Forget”, “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” and the all time favorite of, “All is fair in love and war”, we come to realize that they have become an important part of our conversations and that most proverbs are either directly translated in other countries or that they have different proverbs to express the same concepts.

In many cities across Ecuador, such as Cuenca for instance, many of the older buildings have proverbs displayed on their walls. Proverbs such as, “It is one thing to cackle and another to lay an egg”, is a typical Ecuadorian Proverb and many of the old Spanish Proverbs are still alive in Ecuador today.

Let’s take a look at a few Ecuadorian Proverbs and their interpretations.

To say, “A Carro entornado, todos son caminos” (To an upset wagon, all ways are roads), would mean that to someone who is in a state of panic, who is gullible or corrupt, any alternative option is acceptable.

People who blame others for their misfortunes, as they are unable to accept
responsibility for their own actions are often described in proverbs in Ecuador as “El cojo le echa la culpa al empedrado” (The cripple blames the stone road).

“He/she who leans close to a good tree is blanketed by good shade” (Quien a
buen arbol se arrima Buena sombra lo cobija), is an Ecuadorian Proverb that
gives the advice to seek out the good in life.

A well known proverb around the world is also found amongst the proverbs in Ecuador. “Gato escaldodo del agua fria huye” (A scalded cat flees from cold water) meaning, ‘Once bitten, Twice Shy’.

Ecuador is no different when it comes to proverbs. They are used to educate, to warn, to advise, to encourage and to sympathize. Ecuadorian Proverbs are wise and we hardly stop to wonder who had the insight to create these significant phrases that form part of our lives, conversations and thoughts.

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