Brer Rabbit: Plantation Proverbs

As you might have guessed from the proverbs I include in the daily class announcements, I am such a fan of proverbs. Maybe you can find one or two here that you really like. I think my favorites here would be: "Jay-bird don't rob his own nest" — "Moon may shine, but a lightered knot's mighty handy" — "You can hide the fire, but what you gonna do with the smoke?" — "Watch out when you're getting all you want; fattening hogs ain't in luck."

Unlike the stories, I've left the eye-dialect here, so you can see what it's like. Some people find it really hard to read, other people not so much. Anyway, this gives you an example of the way that Joel Chandler Harris tried to capture a particular style of pronunciation by using the standard English alphabet but non-standard spelling.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Brer Rabbit unit. Story source: Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings by Joel Chandler Harris (1881).

A Selection of Plantation Proverbs
but this is just a selection of the proverbs;
it will not match the audio exactly]

Big 'possum clime little tree.

Dem w'at eats kin say grace.

Ole man Know-All died las' year.

Better de gravy dan no grease 'tall.

Lazy fokes' stummucks don't git tired.

Mole don't see w'at his naber doin'.

Save de pacin' mar' fer Sunday.

Don't rain eve'y time de pig squeal.

Crow en corn can't grow in de same fiel'.

Tattlin' 'oman can't make de bread rise.

Rails split 'fo' bre'kfus'll season de dinner.

Hog dunner w'ich part un 'im'll season de turnip salad.

Mighty po' bee dat don't make mo' honey dan he want.

Kwishins on mule's foots done gone out er fashun.

Pigs dunno w'at a pen's fer.

Possum's tail good as a paw.

Colt in de barley-patch kick high.

Jay-bird don't rob his own nes'.

Meat fried 'fo' day won't las' twel night.

De howlin' dog know w'at he sees.

Blin' hoss don't fall w'en he follers de bit.

Don't fling away de empty wallet.

Looks won't do ter split rails wid.

Settin' hens don't hanker arter fresh aigs.

Tater-vine growin' w'ile you sleep.

Hit take two birds fer to make a nes'.

Ef you bleedzd ter eat dirt, eat clean dirt.

Tarrypin walk fast 'nuff fer to go visitin'.

W'en coon take water he fixin' fer ter fight.

Corn makes mo' at de mill dan it does in de crib.

Good luck say: "Op'n yo' mouf en shet yo' eyes."

Rooster makes mo' racket dan de hin w'at lay de aig.

One-eyed mule can't be handled on de bline side.

Moon may shine, but a lightered knot's mighty handy.

Licker talks mighty loud w'en it git loose fum de jug.

Hongry rooster don't cackle w'en he fine a wum.

You may know de way, but better keep yo' eyes on de seven stairs.

All de buzzards in de settlement 'll come to de gray mule's funer'l.

You k'n hide de fier, but w'at you gwine do wid de smoke?

Termorrow may be de carridge-driver's day for ploughin'.

Hit takes a bee fer ter git de sweetness out'n de hoar-houn' blossom.

Ha'nts don't bodder longer hones' folks, but you better go 'roun' de grave-yard.

'Twix' de bug en de bee-martin 'tain't hard ter tell w'ich gwineter git kotch.

'Simmons ain't good twel dey 'er fros'-bit.

Watch out w'en you'er gittin all you want. Fattenin' hogs ain't in luck.

(400 words)

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