Monday, July 18, 2005

Polish proverb no.1

In an effort to break away from writing morose posts these days, the author of Ocean is handing the blog over for a while to the newly established Silver Learning Center ("SLC"), which operates with the slogan: All that glitters is not gold.

The spectacularly unoriginal slogan should clue you in that the SLC is all about aphorisms and proverbs. In its vast and detailed archives, it contains a number of interesting (and authentic) Polish sayings.

Poles are known for their proverbs. Indeed, paremiologists have recognized Polish and Yiddish proverbs as comprising the bulk of the Great Proverbs Out There.*

Sometimes the proverb presented in Ocean will bear some relation to the day at hand. Sometimes it will be of a more general nature. Sometimes it will be accompanied with text (the SLC and I are striking a contract as we speak, detailing its obligations to the blog). Sometimes only with a photo.

FAQs about SLC’s cooperative relationship with Ocean and blogs in general:

Q: How long do we have to endure its presence on your blog?

A: Each day may be the last day (or not), so you really have to check. I am not revealing the terms of the contract. It is going to be a sealed, secret document.

Q: So the readers basically don’t get to follow the progression of your life while SLC is in charge?
A: Whatever made you think that you are following any progression to begin with? The only person that follows my life is me and trust me, there is no progression.

Q: This isn’t like the dreadful kep thing in your June posts all over again, is it? (this question appears less frequently than the others, but is included here for its value as a minority position)

A: I said nothing about kep. I’m talking about a worthwhile organization that will bring you closer to the spirit of Poland and perhaps, inadvertently or advertantly, to Ocean’s author.

Okay, today’s proverb:

A hippo does not have a sting in its tail, but a wise man would still rather be sat on by a bee

Discussion (all participants are Polish, so please view this as a genuine attempt at interpreting their own proverb):

So something can sting but be quite harmless, right? Harm ought to be measured in other ways, correct?
I believe that the proverb misses the point. A sting can go to the heart. Size and choice of poison is irrelevant. Death is death. Bees can spell evil.
I think you are wrong in your interpretation: it simply is telling us that there are greater evils than a mere sting.

Do they even have hippos in Poland? I never saw one. Ever. Not in Warsaw, not in Krakow. How can this be a Polish proverb if there are no hippos in Poland?
Don't be patronizing. We all have seen hippo pictures. We know they are huge and can squash the guts out of you. And we certainly understand bees. They sting to protect themselves. They also bring honey.

Rate usefulness of discussion to your understanding of the proverb: *****

* source of grandiose claim: nlc