21st Century Proverbs, Part III

Posted: June 2, 2012 in Language
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Here’s the deal. My award-adjacent multi-part series, Makya McBee addresses the issue of antiquated proverbs in a multi-part series, has taken the internet by storm. Not a big storm. Like a quiet rain shower. Or maybe just some ominous clouds. Or perhaps a non-threatening cloud. My series has taken the internet by slightly overcast weather conditions. You know, the type of meteorological conditions a few people may notice if they were paying attention. “Hey, looks like it might rain,” they would say. Yes, that’s about the level at which my blog is taking the internet.


Linguists and proverb historians around the world are taking note. “Tell us more,” they theoretically could be saying. “This is so interesting, we can’t wait for the final installment,” it’s possible they’re raving. And I’ve been called many things in my life, but never have I been called a man who ignores the pleas of hypothetical linguists (I reckon no one, anywhere, ever, has been called that). So, onward and upward….

English: The Pantheon in Rome, Italy

Two weeks, minimum.

Rome wasn’t built in a day – Another proverb we could do without. Obvious is an understatement. I mean, Rome is a big place. It’s not like an inflatable moon bounce; of course it takes longer than a day to build a major city. Many, many days, I’m sure. I can’t envision any situation in which this proverb would prove useful. Usually it pops up when some person is bemoaning the fact that some task is taking longer than expected, at which point a trite bystander pipes up, “Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Thanks, so much. Really useful information. A wonderful sentiment that will no doubt help me through this lengthy ordeal. What would I have done had you not offered this tidbit of nothingness? Yeah, I’m nixing this one.

Shoot first and ask questions later – This has got to be the worst advice ever. Always ask questions first. Your first question should be, “Why am I shooting again?” This one needs to be reversed, “Ask questions. Ask as many questions as possible and delay the shooting indefinitely.”

Slow and steady wins the race – Only if the guy you’re racing against is slower and steadier. (Okay, that’s actually a line of dialogue from one of my screenplays, but if I can’t sell the darned thing I might as well let it see the light of day in blog form). This is the definition of an antiquated proverb. It comes from a time when it may have actually been true. But we live in a fast-paced, internet-crazy, short-attention-span world where…oh, look, a cat playing the piano!

A stitch in time saves nine – This is an interesting proverb in that no one, ever, in the history of the universe, has any idea what it means. Nobody knows what “a stitch in time” is. It is a meaningless assembly of words. Thus, it is particularly difficult to update this one. Let’s just go with, “A Bluetooth in Hulu.com saves solar panels.”

Puma, Belgrade Zoo

You don’t have to know him…

There’s a sucker born every minute – I can’t really argue with the sentiment, it just needs to be modernized to take into account the spike in population growth. “There’s a sucker born every 4.7 seconds.”

A watched pot never boils – Instant update – “A watched app never downloads.”

What you don’t know can’t hurt you – This couldn’t be less true. Let’s say, for example, there was a puma in your closet and you didn’t know it. Believe me, that puma could hurt you. Been there, done that. This one needs to be corrected, “What you don’t know can hurt you. Especially if it’s a puma.”

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks – That’s right. You can’t take something old like, say, proverbs and make them new…wait a second…I just wasted a whole week…

  1. Lokyra Stone says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t get the whole “stitch in time” thing. And “What you don’t know can’t hurt you” has always pissed me off, in its blatant, screaming wrongness.
    I think Rome took, like, at least a month to build.

  2. speaker7 says:

    I believe the “stitch in time” is related to sewing, which is a topic I know a lot about. Wait…no I know nothing about sewing. But I like to talk about things of which I have nonexistent knowledge so I believe it comes from sewing a clock and if you get it finished before the buzzer sounds, the 9 will be allowed to live.

  3. There should be some keyboard symbol aside from combining a colon and a parend to indicate chucklechucklechuckle.

  4. P.S. Do we really know Rome wasn’t built in a day? Perhaps time functioned differently then.

  5. Luke says:

    Also, laughters the best medicine…. Unless u have broken ribs, then it just sucks….

    • Makya McBee says:

      Linda – You could always spell out, “Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle.” And I don’t know how long it took to build Rome, but I’m still pretty sure it was longer than 24 hours. But perhaps you’re trying to invent a new proverb…”Time flies when you’re building Rome.”

      Luke – Or if you have the dreaded laughing disease, then it only compounds the problem.

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