Monday, 21 November 2011

Creole Proverbs


Collected by Otto Massiah

Patois is a very very funny language, especially when you understand French! It is devoid of pretensions, and allows itself to be funny and delve in picong. What seems almost incomprehensible written down in English phonetics, becomes hilariously clear when read aloud, compared with the English translation and with its roots in "high" French.


Bush doo kah ashtay shuval ah crayde.
Sweet mouth buys horses on credit.
Bouche douce achète cheval au crédit.

Kan ou vueh barb camarad ou puis, defay wousay cella ou.
When you see your friend’s beard on fire, sprinkle yours.
Quand tu vois la barbe de ton camarad au feu, il devoit arroser celle de toi.

Malair pah kah charjay con laplee.
Accidents don’t threaten like rain.
Malheur ne peut [charger] comme la pluie.
[This might be an Anglicism having crept into the French from Engl. 'to charge', the correct French word would be 'menacer']

Ravett pah jammay tinne raison duvan poule.
The cockroach never has any right to the eyes of a fowl.
Cafard n'a jamais aucune raison devant une poule.

Say souleah sel ke connet se shoson tinni too.
The shoe alone knows if the socks have holes.
C'est la [souleah] seule ce qui connaît que les [chaussons] tenaient trous.
[Again these might be creolised words; the French word for shoe is 'chaussure', and for socks 'chaussette', however, 'chaussons' is a bedsock or footlet.]

Say coute ke connoit sah ke nan bouden jermu.
Only the knife knows what is in the inside of the pumpkin.
Seule le couteau connaît ce qu'est dans [bouden jermu].
[The French word for pumpkin is 'citrouill'.]

Say mezeh qui fair macaque manger piman.
Trouble made the monkey eat pepper.
C'est la misére qui fait [macaque] manger piment.

Sa zeah pah kah vueh, cheh kah teh mal.
What the eye does not see the yeart does not grieve at.
Ce que les yeux ne peuvent pas voir, le coeur ne tient mal.

Se crab pah mashay le pah grah, le mashay trap le tombay dan showdeah.
If the crab doesn’t walk he don’t get fat. If he walks to much he falls in the pot.
Si le crabe ne marche pas il ne devient gras; s'il marche trop il tombe dans le chaudeur.

Se zandolee tay bon vian le passay kah dreevay.
If lizards were eatable they would not be so common about.
Si [zandolee] etais la bonne viande, ...

Si crapaud di ou caiman tini mal zieu queh le.
If the frog tells you that the crocodile has sore eyes believe him.
Si crapaud dit que le caiman tient mals yeux, crois-le.

You dwett pah sah pwan peice.
One finger can’t catch fleas.
Un doîgt ne peut pas prendre puces.

Tampay kah ashtay maleh, gaude passah paveh.
A penny will buy trouble which pounds cannot buy.
Stampee [old currency] va acheter malheur, ...

1 comment:

jsferreira said...

Modern standard orthography would render these proverbs like this:

Bouch dou ka achté chouval an crédi
Sweet mouth buys horses on credit.

Kan ou wè bab kanmawad ou pwis difé, wouzé sla'w
When you see your friend’s beard on fire, sprinkle yours.

Malè pa ka chagé kon lapli.
Accidents don’t threaten like rain.

Wavèt pa jamé tini wézon douvan poul.
The cockroach never has any right to the eyes of a fowl.

Sé soulyé sèl ki konnèt si choson tini tou.
The shoe alone knows if the socks have holes.

Sé kouté ki konnèt sa ki nan bouden jemou.
Only the knife knows what is in the inside of the pumpkin.

Sé mizé ki fè makak mangé piman.
Trouble made the monkey eat pepper.

Sa zyé pa ka wè, tjè pa tini mal.
What the eye does not see the yeart does not grieve at.

Si kwab pa maché li pa gwa; si li maché twòp li tonbé dan chodé.
If the crab doesn’t walk he don’t get fat. If he walks to much he falls in the pot.

Si zandoli té bon vian, li pasé ka drivé.
If lizards were eatable they would not be so common about.

Si kwapo di ou kayman tini mal zyé , kwè li.
If the frog tells you that the crocodile has sore eyes believe him.

Yon dwèt pa sa pwan pis.
One finger can’t catch fleas..

Tampé ka achté malè, goud pa sa pavè.
A penny will buy trouble which pounds cannot buy.