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Mayan proverbs
Collected and translated into Spanish by Feliciano P. Eberardo
English translations from Spanish by Carl Rubino

[The character is used for x diaeresis (x with two dots above it).]

Nya ban tun tchub key toj be, kun nlay chiyl twey.
Its not good that you sit on the road because you will no longer grow.
[Children sitting on the road alone can be kidnapped]

Nya ban tun tjax tkon chil toj twiy, kun bex chajila tun txyan.
Its not wise to put a basket on your head as you will be eaten by a dog.
[He who walks without looking will fall into trouble]

Nya ban tun cyoc tkon xjab, mo tun tjax tkon cysambrel xjal toj twij, kun bex ctzajil xcyaklinchej tija.
It is not good to wear foreign hats or caites because then youll suffer cramps.

Nya ban tun tcub neje, ex tun tcyija cyijxjal, aj toc ten betil kun bex chi xjetwelix timi a mo tjosa.
It is not good to go forward and back while walking because this will cause abnormalities in your breasts (women) or testicles (men).

Nya ban tun tjax key cyibaj kok, kun bex cyjel pise t ope te jun majx.
It is not good to sit on pumpkins, because your rump will freeze up for good.

Nya ban tun t-xi tyecin t-xew can, kun bex ckayjil twi tkoba.
It is not good to point at a rainbow or your finger will rot.

Nya ban tun tjaw tsolin twutz wabj, kun bex ctzajil wabj twutza.
It is not good to remove the first layer of the tortillas, or pimples will appear on your face.

Nya ban tun tel tlekin tij pac, kun bex cyelil cantaleke.
It is not good to lick the spoon or you will become a gossipmonger.

Nya ban tun twan toj chuj, kun bex cy-elil chuj tcuja.
It is not good to eat in the bath or your stomach will grow that size.

Nya ban tun toc amle tija, kun bex cy-elil miley.
It is not good that you wear a skirt if you are a male unless you want to menstruate.

Nya ban tun t-xi tcayin muj kun nlayx bet takin.
It is not good to look at the clouds or your work will not progress.

Nya ban tun t-xi tchon tkan ecy, kun bex cy-elil xcota.
It is not good to eat hens legs or you will become a slow worker.

Nya ban tun t-xi t-xon tsmal twiy, t-xcyaka, mo tstey, kun ka mina i jet aj tcyima, ocx cokila cyij.
It is not good to throw away your hair, fingernails or teeth because if you dont find them upon your death, you will regret it.

Nya ban tun tnicyin yol mo tun t-xi tewin jun tila cywutz ttijila, kun nokx tila c-ocila koniy.
It is not good to lie or hide anything from your parents because you dont know what they will change into.

Nya ban tun t-xi tewin chibaj cye tuliy, kun ajo chibaj bex cy-elil chuk-ix.
It is not good to hide good food from visitors because it will turn into worms.

Nya ban tun tcyajin aj t-xiy awil cjon, kun coxke jal cchi elil.
It is not good to show laziness on sowing cornfields because the ears of corn will end up twisted.

Nya ban tun ttzaj tcyaja aj t-xiy siwil, kun bex cjawil pacchaje.
Its not good to be lazy when bringing in firewood or youll fall.

Nya ban tun ttzaj tcyaja aj t-xiy siwil, kun bex cjawil pacchaje.
It is not good (for a pregnant lady) to put a comb in the folds of her skirt because her child's teeth will end up crooked.

Nya ban tun cycub tajlan tal kak, kun alix taljiy tzul.
It is not good to count matches because if there are many that is how many children you will have. [Counting matches is also a waste of time]

Nya ban tun ticyx lipin jun txin tibaj jun ka, kun bex c-elel snacjo ka anetzin.
It is not good for a girl to pass over a boy, because this will be useless.

Nya ban tun toc tjemin jun txyan, kun nlay mojin tuciy aj ticyx kon tibaj kak.
It is not good to hit a dog because it will no longer help you in case you need to pass the flames of a fire.

Nya ban tun mina t-xi koyin chin tile cye ktata, nokx sis c-ocil pukle kuj, aj kcyim.
It is not good to deny anything to your parents because at the end of our life we will suffer hen ticks.


Eberardo, Feliciano P. (1991). "Dichos en el idioma maya-mam de Guatemala como una estrategia para la transmision de valores." Past, Present, and Future: Selected Papers on Latin American Indian Literatures. Ed. Mary H. Preuss. Culver City, CA: Labyrinthos, pp. 27-29.




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