Proverbial Thursday – Global Proverbs

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Thursday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking. 

I hope you will too.

Proverbial thursdfly sml 3932

“What parents whisper, their children shout!” Dutch proverb (Heusinkveld and Caris)

‘Whenever I climb I am followed by a dog called ‘Ego.’ (Friedrich Nietzsche)

The meaning of the Dutch proverb can be interpreted several ways. What way do you interpret it?

Something to Ponder About

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About Forestwoodfolk

Scandinavian culture, literature and traditions are close to my heart, even though I am Australian. I have Scandinavian, Frisian and Prussian/Silesian ancestry and for that reason, I feel a connection with that part of the world. I am an avid Nordic Crime fiction reader, and enjoy photography, writing and a variety of cooking and crafts, and traditional decorative art forms. Politically aware and egalitarian by nature, I have a strong environmental bent.
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22 Responses to Proverbial Thursday – Global Proverbs

  1. I suppose it means that parents should be careful when they talk about things not meant for children. Respect for all.

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    • Yes, that is one way of interpreting it, Gerard. In this way it reminds me of the Danish saying: Little one also have ears. It is often the exact things you don’t want the children to overhear that they in fact do overhear!

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  2. afairymind says:

    I can see it as being interpreted in two very different ways. First it could be that children shout things for all to hear that their parents would rather keep private. My second interpretation is more of a generational difference – issues that are ‘whispered’ by one generation (such as equal rights, etc) are then built upon and ‘shouted’ by the next generation until they become the accepted norm. A fascinating proverb. 🙂

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    • Hi Afairymind and thanks so much for your comment! I totally agree these proverbs are fascinating in their layers! And I do so like the interpretation you have ascribed to it. The first, more obvious and literal one, and the second, one that is much more positive and timeless. And it also can make me think about the importance of discussing sensitive and controversial topics with your children, for this very reason that they can, if they so choose, follow and develop a path or foundations that parents may have built. A path in the sense that one parent may sow a seed for appreciation of the earth and the next child growing up in an atmosphere of nature appreciation might carve out a career as an environmentalist. More generally speaking, indigenous minority rights or gender equality are definitie examples of “children shouting.”
      Thanks so much for adding to the discussion.

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  3. Mabel Kwong says:

    The first proverb reminds me of the phrase, “Monkey see, monkey do.” Agree with what Gerard said. Sometimes children take after their parents quite a bit, mimicking them in what they say and what they do. Afairymind’s generational difference spin on it makes a lot of sense too. In a sense, it can be said that children are different from their parents, some may be more rebellious and some may be brave to go where their parents have never gone before. On one hand, shouting can be seen as rude but on the other, it signifies courage to raise our voice and speak out.

    The second quote is also thought-provoking. The higher and further go on any adventure and every path and the more we achieve, the more confidence we might get. It’s important not to let our achievements distract us from what we want to achieve.

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    • Hi Mabel, You make the point about shouting and it is hard to tell whether the saying meant metaphorical shouting or literal shouting. I guess that interpretation can go two ways and the reader takes from it what they want to get out of it? And I quite agree children are different from parents, and may either accept and follow in their parent’s lifestyle choices and values, or reject them totally. This saying reminded me a little of that paradox.

      I also think there is a subtle reminder in Nietzsche’s quote that we must be ‘grounded’ or aware of our ego, and not get a ‘big head’ over our achievements. This is very much evident in a country like Australia with the consequence being the tall poppy syndrome, if one is perceived to be carried away with themselves. In addition, the common practise of downplaying our abilities and be modest. In other countries, it is socially acceptable to express pride in their abilities or achievements without it being seen by others as boastful. What do you think, Mabel? From your viewpoint, would you see Australians as modest and disparaging of their achievements?
      (generally speaking, of course).
      There is also another quote by Nietzsche in terms of ego: The higher we soar, the smaller we seem to those who cannot fly. This seems to be another paradox. An Australian, might look to others’ achievements with awe and admiration, and think they could never achieve something like ‘that’ – and yet should that admired person affirm their abilities, this could be construed as vain or egotistical! Nietzsche really makes me think critically about a lot of life’s aspects!!

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    • Mabel Kwong says:

      Really like how you bring an Australian cultural spin to this discussion, Amanda. “In addition, the common practise of downplaying our abilities and be modest.” I think there’s quite a bit of truth to this, in regards to answering your question. I think that we are modest, but at times so modest that we are happy to take whatever that comes along. From a work point of view, I know some Australians who are happy to stay in the same routine job for years on end.

      I like that other Nietzsche quote you shared. I don’t see anything wrong in affirming one’s ability, but I also do believe there is so much you can improve on by dwelling on what you have achieved for too long.

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    • Do you mean there is much/ or isn’t much/to improve on by dwelling on achievments, Mabel?

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    • Mabel Kwong says:

      Dwelling on achievements, we reflect and learn what we are capable of and what we’ve learnt along the way. At the same time, it’s important to not get too caught up in the moment because there is more to life than just a single achievement.

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    • You make a good point there Mabel. They can be a lesson or a point of reference from which to move forward but not something that should occupy every waking thought. If they do, there must then be a self esteem problem.

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  4. Leya says:

    One of the good things about proverbs are their possibilties for everyone to put in different meanings – adjusting them to their special surroundings or country. My interpretation here is the simple illustration in the fairy tale “The Emperor’ s New Clothes”, where the little child raises her voice and innocently reveals that the emperor is naked. In Sweden we have this saying that from children and drunken people we get the truth…

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  5. milliethom says:

    My interpretation of the first quote revolves around new ideas’ – innovations and inventions etc. These may be things that parents ‘whisper about’, or talk about amongst themselves until the ideas become more widely accepted. Their children, on the other hand, will grow up accepting the new ideas as the norm and hence, able to ‘shout’ about them. 🙂 I know it can be interpreted more basically – parents whisper anout things they perhaps find difficult or inappropriate whereas children have no such qualms.
    The second quote reminds us that anyone with a big ego can never accept that they have any need to improve. People with egos like that are never popular with others.
    (My thoughts are a bit rushed today, I’m afraid, Amanda. I would have liked to have thought about each quote a little more.) 🙂

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    • Your comments are always well appreciated, Millie. I like your interpretation and I’ve heard my children say things that confirm this is true. A disability in the family or ‘strange custom’ is often accepted as normal by a family’s offspring. They don’t question things that others see as unusual because they don’t see themselves as separate entities from the family until they hit adolescence, and then oh boy, they start to question everything!!! But this is an essential part of growing up. It is a caysative and dynamic factor in change and adaptation. In this regard, I find it a hopeful sign for the human race in this current world of shrinking tolerance! Given time, our future generation can openly accept what we find difficult or problematic. This is progress in another context. Do you know what I mean, Millie?

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    • milliethom says:

      I couldn’t agree more with you, Amanda. It’s a really thought-provoking quote, and one I could ponder on for ages.
      I emailed a few pics to you last night. I only thought-provoking about putting them I.to a ‘folder’ after I’d sent it. If they aren’t suitable, I’ll have a rethink. Hope work has eased off a bit by now. You were having a hectic time last time we spoke.

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    • Millie, I am so pleased you would like to contribute photos to MMP. However, I haven’t yet received a email from you. Can you please recheck the addy you sent it to?

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    • milliethom says:

      The address was the one from the email you sent me when I’d closed down my site after my mess up with my over-full media library. If it didn’t get to you, I’ll look up your address on my comments page and resend the photos. Sorry about that – I’ll go and check now.

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    • milliethom says:

      I’ve just checked my ‘sent’ file and it’s not telling me it failed. In other words, it’s reading as sent.
      Let me know if you still can’t find it and I’ll still redo.

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