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He runs away from the sword and hides himself in the scabbard.

(Out of the frying pan into the fire.)

The ground pig (bandicoot) said: "I do not feel so angry with the man who killed me as with the man who dashed me on the ground afterward."

(Adding insult to injury.)

Coconut is not good for bird to eat.

(Sour grapes.)

If the stomach is not strong, do not eat cockroaches.

(Milk for babes.)

Full-belly child says to hungry-belly child, "Keep good cheer."

(We can all endure the misfortunes of others.)

Cowries are men.

(Money makes the man.)

"I nearly killed the bird." No one can eat nearly in a stew.

(First catch your hare.)

No animal that a hunter has ever missed is small.

(The biggest one got away.)

Distant firewood is good firewood.

(Distance lends enchantment to the view.)

Ashes fly back in the face of him who throws them.

(Curses come home to roost.)

Stone in the water hole does not feel the cold.

(Habit is second nature.)

The hyena said: "It is not only that I have luck, but my leg is strong."

Also: The monkey says: "My talisman (against harm) is my little eyes."

(God helps those who help themselves.)

A fool of Ika and an idiot of Iluka meet together to make friends.

(Birds of a feather flock together.)

When you go to the village of the tortoise and it eats earth, you eat some too.

(When in Rome do as Rome does.)

Quick loving a woman means quick not loving a woman.

(Married in haste we repent at leisure.)

No one should draw water from the spring in order to supply the river.

(Robbing Peter to pay Paul.)

Three elders cannot all fail to pronounce the word ekulu (an antelope); one may say ekúlu, another ekulú, but the third will say ekulu.

(In a multitude of counselors there is safety.)

Even if the mouse were the size of a cow he would be the cat’s slave just the same.

(The fault, Dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.)

If the boy says he wants to tie the water with a string, ask him whether he means the water in the pot or the water in the lagoon. Also: When a child pretends to be dying (the best thing is to) pretend to bury him.

(Answer a fool according to his folly.)

A wife is like a blanket; when you cover yourself with it, it irritates you, and when you cast it aside, you feel cold.

(We cannot live either with them or without them.)

The elephant makes a dust and the buffalo makes a dust, but the dust of the buffalo is lost in the dust of the elephant.

(Duo cum faciunt idem non est idem.)

(Ear, hear the other before you decide.)

(Audi alteram partem.)

Blood is not water.

(Blood is thicker than water. Also Mephistopheles: Blut ist ein ganz besondrer Saft.)

If the spirit world possesses nothing else, it has at least the power of its name.

(If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.)

The conception and manipulation of numbers as symbols has given the white child more trouble than the language symbols. Mental arithmetic has been the bugbear of the beginners, and "Let X equal the unknown quantity" has been the pons asinorum of the more advanced. When Laura Bridgeman was asked: "If you can buy a barrel of cider for one dollar, how many barrels can you buy for five dollars?" she first asked, "How does the man know I am here?" and then answered, "I would not buy so much; it is too sour." In this connection the small boy keeps as close to the concrete as possible and leans heavily on his hand. The savage does the same and sometimes resorts to his toes. The Arawak has names for numbers up to four. "Five" is "hand"; "eleven" is "two-hands-and-one-toe"; "nineteen" is "two-hands-one-foot-and-four-toes"; "twenty" is "man"; "eighty" is "four men," etc.1

1 The African proverbs are from Ellis, A.B., n/an/an/an/aRattray, R.S., n/an/an/an/aPechuël-Loesche, E., n/an/an/an/an/a .

1 Brett, W. H., The Indian Tribes of Guiana, 417.


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Chicago: "Völkerkunde," Völkerkunde in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed September 22, 2023, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=UHGXM5SR81IL6HW.

MLA: . "Völkerkunde." Völkerkunde, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 22 Sep. 2023. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=UHGXM5SR81IL6HW.

Harvard: , 'Völkerkunde' in Völkerkunde. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 22 September 2023, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=UHGXM5SR81IL6HW.