Monday, 25 February 2013

Vietnamese proverb

Vietnamese proverb:  Khi một con ngựa bị ốm, những con ngựa khác không ăn cỏ

English translation:  When one horse is sick, the other horses don't eat grass.  

What do you think this proverb means?  

(a)  it is a proverb about being careful:  when others get sick, pay attention to what they did, or what they ate, and don't do/eat the same things.  

(b)  it is a proverb about unity/solidarity:  if your friend or family member can't enjoy something, then you also go without that pleasure until you can enjoy it together.   

(c)  it is a proverb about greed; if you take too much of something, you will make yourself sick, and there will not be enough for others.

The correct answer is (b).  Vietnamese society values solidarity and unity within any group or family.  Children are taught that the needs and goals of the group are more important than those of the individual, and expressing individuality is not encouraged.   For more information about the the culture and values of Vietnamese society, from Charles Sturt University in New South Wales, Australia, click here

Thanks to my student Ha for sharing this proverb, and thanks to my colleague Chi for helping in the editing process

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