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'EL QUE NACE' PROVERBS: A SUPPLEMENT

SHIRLEY ARORA

THE EL QUE NACE PROVERBS: A SUPPLEMENT

A large number of Spanish and Spanish American proverbs use the introductory formula el que nace (para)... or a variation thereof. Among these proverbs, which deal generally with the concept of inescapable destiny or of inborn, immutable characteristics, can be identified eight pattern types that may be considered as models for the creation of "new" sayings or variations on older ones. The remainder of the sayings fall outside any of the eight pattern groups and constitute a "miscellaneous" category, having in common only the introductory formula. Since publication of my original study of 125 el que nace proverbs (see bibliography), a sizable number of new examples or variants of these proverbs have come to my attention as well as some additional published documentation for sayings from the original list which help to fill in the overall picture of the distribution of the various types. The forty additional sayings given here (Appendix I) include nine "miscellaneous" examples and at least one item from each of the eight pattern groups, with the heaviest concentration being in Group III (ten new items, as well as two new variants given in Appendix II). On the whole, the new material and annotations tend to bear out the tentative generalizations made in the original study. Three sayings previously documented only for Spain have now been located in a Mexican collection (see Nos. 1, 5, and 8b, Appendix II); all three exhibit rhyme and an inverted word order, characteristics previously found only in Peninsular Spanish examples of that pattern subgroup. Group III, despite its notable expansion, continues to be limited in its distribution to areas from Colombia northward, with a particularly abundant representation from Cuba (seven new entries, including one variant, added to the seven on the original list). Historical documentation is still generally lacking, suggesting that the proliferation of el que nace sayings is a relatively recent phenomenon. One saying has been located in a novel dated 1816 (see No. 49a, Appendix II), and a scholar from the Dominican Republic remarks that the proverb El que nace barrigón, aunque lo fajen is "very old," although he does not elaborate nor offer specific references to indicate age (see No. 34a, Appendix II). Parallels to the el que nace proverbs are rare in English. One example, of international distribution, is He that is born to be hanged shall never be drowned, which in English dates back at least to 1540 (Oxford 56) and is apparently still current (Taylor and Whiting 39; for Spanish and Portuguese equivalents see No.23 in the original study). Another example, He that was born under a three half-penny (or three penny) planet shall never be worth two pence (or a groat, i.e., four pence), is recorded for the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and closely parallels Spanish and Portuguese sayings referring to coins (see Nos. 74 and 79-81 in the original study). The Italian collection of Giusti and Capponi, on the other hand, contains a number of parallels: Chi nasce lupo non muore agnello (p. 49); Chi ha da morir di forca, può ballar sul fiume (p. 133); Chi ha a morir di ghiandosa (peste), non gli vale far casotti in campagna (p. 133); Chi è nato disgraziato anche le pecore lo mordono (p. 135); Chi nasce tondo, non muor quadro (p.259). There is a Provençal example, Qu nais triste / Jamai garis (Fr. Qui naît triste / N'en guérit pas; Mauron 118), but I have not come across other French parallels as yet. It appears, however, that the el que nace patterns have received considerable development in Portuguese, particularly in Brazil. In the original study I cited eight Portuguese equivalents of Spanish el que nace sayings, and added in a note (p.59) four more that followed similar patterns. Further examples have now brought the total in Portugese to twenty-seven (not counting variants), all of which are listed here in Appendix III. Fifteen of these are documented only for Brazil, and two have annotations for both Brazil and Portugal. I have arranged the new examples in Spanish according to the eight pattern groups originally established and have continued the numbering from the first study. As before, sayings that share the same key word (the noun or adjective in the el que nace clause) are grouped under the same number (e.g., 151a, 151b, 151c). New sayings that belong under numbers assigned in the original study are given with those numbers in Appendix II and are distinguished by means of an asterisk (*) from entries that represent only additional annotations for items listed previously. As in the original article, annotation is by author's surname and page or number as indicated in the bibliography; items recorded directly from oral sources are labeled "field." The Portuguese parallels in Appendix III are numbered separately from the Spanish material, with the letter "P" preceding each number.

Appendix I

Group Ib. El que nace (para) X, muere Y.

126. El que nace LECHÓN, muere cochino. Spain: Beinhauer 159. Mexico: Gallegos 85 (quien nace).
127. El que nace PUERCO, muere cochino. Argentina: Villafuerte 133.

 

Group IIa. El que nace X, de balde Y.


The full text of this article is published in De Proverbio - Issue 7:1998 & Issue 8:1998, an electronic book, available from amazon.com and other leading Internet booksellers.

Group VIII.

152. El que ha de morir en PETATE siempre anda apestando a tule. Mexico: Robelo 210. Although this saying shares the same key word with others in this group, it is numbered separately because its meaning has been altered by modification of the introductory portion, probably under influence of the widely recorded El que ha de morir a oscuras. . . (see Nos. 45a-45e in the original study). Whereas other sayings in this group express the impossibility of overcoming or concealing the station to which one is born, this modified version not only suggests the inescapability of destiny but also implies that one's destiny is somehow foreshadowed by one's actions or behavior.
153. El que no nació de PAJE siempre huele a acemilero. Spain: Camino 113. The author, who is Peruvian, identifies this version as "Spanish" but does not cite a source.

Miscellaneous.

154. Quien con DESGRACIA nace, en ella yace. Spain: Martínez 16.723. This version differs from those of Group Ia only in the use of the pronoun instead of the repetition of the noun.
155. El que nace DESGRACIAU con majarete se ahoga. Puerto Rico: Carrillo 29.
156. El que nace DISPAREJO no se le estira el pellejo. Spain: Recio 136. The saying is identified by Recio as "castellano" rather than "mexicano," but no source is cited.
157. O que ha morrer ás ESCURAS, pra nada quer o candil. Spain (Galicia): Rodríguez González II 648. See also Nos. 32 and 45a-45e in the original study.
158. El que nace pa MIERDA de cagajones le hacen el entierro. Cuba: Feijóo 40.
159. Trabaja, Perico, que al que nació pa ser POBRE, ni el rey lo puede hacer rico. Spain: Iribarren 561. Compare No. 82a-c in the original study.
160. El que nace pa POBRE, llega a trapo y vuelve a guilincho. Puerto Rico: Carrillo 29.
161. El que nace pa REAL en nueve quilos y medio se queda. Cuba: Feijóo 40.
162. El que ha nacido ZONGO será siempre zongo. Spanish America (country not specified): Vergara 142.

Appendix II

The numbers in the following list are taken from the original study. Items marked with an asterisk (*)--twenty-two in all--are new sayings or variants that share the same key word as one or more entries in the original study and therefore have the same number, with distinguishing letters added (e.g., 57d, 57e). For the entries containing new annotations only, the wording of the saying as given in the original study is repeated, followed by the added references and an indication, in parentheses, of any variation from the original form.

Group Ia.

1. Quien ASNO nace, asno muere. Mexico: Conde 142 (el que asno nació, asno murió).
5. Quien LOBO nació, lobo murió. Mexico: Conde 341.
8b. Quien TONTO nace, tonto se yace. Mexico: Conde 353 (tonto yace).

Group Ib.

23. El que nació para AHORCADO, no morirá de ahogado. Mexico: Gallegos 85 (quien nació . . . no morirá ahogado).

Group IIa.

29. Al que nace BARRlGÓN, es al ñudo que lo fajen. Uruguay: field (añudo).
32. El que ha de morir a ESCURAS, poco le importa ser cerero. Spain (Galicia): Rodríguez González II 648 (non lle importa).

 

The full text of this article is published in De Proverbio - Issue 7:1998 & Issue 8:1998, an electronic book, available from amazon.com and other leading Internet booksellers.

P7. Quem nasceu para a FORCA não morre afogado. Portugal: Chaves Q-1175. See No.23 in the original study.

Group IV

P8. Quem nasce para BURRO, nunca chega a cavalo. Portugal: Chaves Q-1177. See No.69 in the original study.
P9. Quem nasceu para BURRO de horta, mal pode chegar a ginete. Portugal: Chaves Q-1176. Brazil: Lamenza 242.
P10. Quem nasceu para CINCO, não chega a dez. Portugal: Chaves Q-1178; Braga 69 (não pode chegar).
P11. Quem nasceu em baixo do BANCO, nunca chega a se sentar. Brazil: Pérez 2133.
P12a. Quem nasceu para DEZ-RÉIS não chega a tostão. Brazil: Pérez 2134; Amaral 254.
P12b. Quem nasceu para DEZ-RÉIS não chega a vintém. Portugal: Chaves Q-1179. Brazil: Lamenza 242; Amaral 263; Gomes 202; Fernandes 83; Araújo 151; Teixeira 50.
P12c. Quem nasceu para DEZ-RÉIS nunca chegará [a] dois vintens. Brazil: Júlio 122.
P13. Quem nasceu para POBRE não chega a rico. Portugal: Chaves Q-1180; Braga 68 (nasce).
P14. Quem nasceu para PORCO, nunca chega a porqueiro. Portugal: Chaves Q-1181.
P15. Quem nasceu para VINTÉM não chega a pataco. Portugal: Chaves Q-1182.

Miscellaneous.

P16. Quem nasceu para CANGALHA, não da pra sela. Brazil: Gomes 202; Pérez 2130 (cela). See also P23, below, and Spanish entry No.143, Appendix I, above.
P17. Quem nasceu para CARREIRO, vira, mexe, larga e pega, sempre acaba junto ao carro. Brazil: Escragnolle 23. This version appears in the novel Inocência and may represent the author's adaptation of a conjectured traditional form *Quem nasceu para carreiro. sempre acaba junto ao carro.
P18. Quem nasce pra ralar COCO, morre de "cóca." Brazil: Lamenza 242; Motta 401 ("relar"). This saying is similar to those of pattern Ib, but the relationship between the X and Y terms is somewhat different and an element of word play is involved.
P19. Quem nasceu pra LACAIO, não aspire a senhor. Brazil: Brandão 100.
P20. Quem nasce p'ra ser MANDADO, já nasce com marca na picanha. Brazil: Perez 2131.
P21. Quem nasce pra quebrar OURICURI, morre com o c[u] na pedra. Brazil: Motta 399; Motta Lampeão 153 (nasceu . . licury).
P22. A quem nasceu para ser POBRE, o oiro se torna em cobre. Portugal: Chaves A-300. See Spanish entry No. 121, Appendix I.
P23. Quem nasceu QUARTAU, não dá p'ra cela. Brazil: Pérez 2137. See also No. P16, above. A pattern quem nasce para X não dá para Y might be postulated, but further examples have not yet come to light, and the relationship between X and Y is quite different in these two examples.
P24. Quem RUIM é, sempre o é. Portugal: Chaves Q-1371. See No. 123 in the original study.
P25. Quem nasce pra SOFFREU não pode ser cardeal. Brazil: Lamenza 242.
P26. Quem nasceu p'ra TIA, não há Deus nem o diabo que ajeite. Brazil: Pérez 2136.
P27. Quem TORTO nasce, tarde ou nunca endireita. Portugal: Chaves Q-1637. See No. 27a in the original study.

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NOTES

* Previously published in Journal of Latin American Lore 1:2 (1975), 185-198

Shirley Arora
Department of Spanish and Portuguese
UCLA


 
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