American-Italian Folklore: Proverbs and Old Sayings

Mastica e inghiotta le parole amare e sole sputa le parole dolce.
Masticate and swallow the bitter words and only spit out the sweet sayings.

Amici e maccheroni, se non sono caldi, non sono buoni
Friends & macaroni, if they are not warm, they are not good.

L’ospite e come il pesce - doppo tre giorne – Puzza!
Guests are like fish – after 3 days – they stink!

Il buono vinci, il cattivo perde.
The good will win and the bad will lose.

Chi semina vento, racoglie tempesta.
Who sows the wind, gathers tempests.

Chi patisce e non impara vuol dire che gli piace patire.
He who suffers and doesn't learn, means he likes to suffer.

Chi si sbagli, causa le sue lacrime.
Who causes wrongs for himself, causes his own tears.

Fai amici con tutti, ma tieni la fede in dio.
Make friends with everone but put your faith in God.

Si non fai del male, non devi aver paura. Do no wrong and have no fear.

Il denaro makes a man rich – L’Educazione lo fa sinnora.
Money makes a man rich. Education makes him a gentleman!

Signore benedici chi non mi fa perdere tempo!
God bless those who keep me from wasting time!

Non ce rosa senza spina.
There is no rose without thorns.

Piu conosco gli uomini a pia amo le bastie!
The more I understand people – the more I love the beasts!

La carita' la fai prima tuoi e si puoi le fai ad altri.
When it comes to charity, help your own first and then others if you can.

L'educazione dei figli comincia nelle braccia della madre.
The education of children begins in the arms of their mother.

Chi primo non pensa, in ultimo sospira.
He who does not think first, in the end sighs.

Il diavolo non ha vigna e vende vino.
The devil has no vineyard, but sells wine!

Nel bisogno, si conosce I'amico.
In your need, you will know your friend.

Chi paga, balla.
Whoever pays, dances.

Dopo i confetti, vengono i difetti.
After the confetti, come the faults.

Chi ti vuole male, ti fa ridere.
Whoever dislikes you, makes you laugh.

Chi ti vuole bene, ti fa piangere.
Whoever loves you, makes you cry.

Tutto il mondo e paese.
The whole world is a village.

Folklore is passed in a varity of ways--customs and practices, jokes, stories, tradtional folktales, sometimes only a often repeated phrase or a proverb/saying. Not all second and third generation Italian-Americans are fluent in Italian, or even their regional dialect, but they may preseve a piece of the language in sayings like these which have been heard from their families and neighbors. Sometimes the giest of the folk wisdom will remain, but the origianal phrasing someone heard in the Italian language will be lost.

I gleaned the above Proverbs and Old Sayings from The Little Italy Lodge OSIA #2286 Baltimore, MD website.

Proverbs and Old Sayings

I have collected more:

Detto fatto
No sooner said than done.

L'abito non fa il monaco.
The habit doesn't make the monk.

Patti chiari, amici cari
Clear agreements make for good friends.

Roma non fu fatta in un giorno.
Rome wasn't built in a day.

Scopa nuova scopa bene.
A new broom sweeps clean.

Tutto e possible.
Anything is possible.

Volere e' potere.
Where there is will, there's a power.

I may add more later. If you have some folkore and sayings, which you would be comfortable in sharing, please send them to me, Myth Woodling
Thank you.

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