Monday, October 1, 2001

Folklore: Proverb: “Actions speak louder than words.” folklore

Genre: Proverb                                                Seán Santos Dinsmore, age 6                                                                                                                                          
                                                                        Oct 1, 2001
                                                                        Fatima, Portugal (restaurant)
“Actions speak louder than words.”

My nephew Seán watched me interview my family for folklore for a month, and apparently he too wanted to get in on the act—which totally floored us. Probably it’s because he’s at the age where he thinks the world revolves around him. 

We—my aunt Canice, her daughter—my cousin Sineád, and her son Seán were in Fatima, Portugal, on a pilgrimage of sorts to the Azores in honor of Canice’s deceased Portuguese-American husband, Jimmy Santos, and we wanted to show Seán his ancestral homeland. 

The timing for our trip was very bad: it was a few days after the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks and we were in rough shape in general. Canice wanted to go to Fatima, and after having visited the shrine of “Our Lady of Fatima,” we were reviving ourselves in a coffee shop after having been drenched in a downpour,  After his grandmother, my aunt Canice, had given me a bit of folklore “behind the 8-ball,” he piped up “I have one too.”

Seán said, “At the beginning of school in Miss Martha’s [MacNeil] class, she said to us, ‘actions speak louder than words.’’  Seán is a first grader in a multi-grade classroom at a tiny rural, school in Nicasio, Ca. 

I asked him what he thought it meant. He replied, “because we were screaming kids, because yellow-jackets [wasps] were landed on our burritos on Burrito Day. I slapped a couple of them.” He laughs. “She was trying to get us to stop screaming and we did. And we ate our lunch. I said it was because we were talking too loud.”

I think Seán, despite his age, understood the context of the application and the use of the proverb “actions speak louder than words” perfectly. He was a good informant, and more on-task than some of the adults I interviewed. A boy of action, he did all my work for me!

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