Dichos are Spanish popular sayings. Unlike proverbios, which are more extended thoughts, dichos can be either brief phases or longer refranes. When I was running Mercury House I published a book by José Antonio Burciaga, called En Pocas Palabras /In Few Words: A Compendium of Latino Folk Wit and Wisdom. Sadly, Tony succumbed to cancer before the book was finished, so I finished it with my regular collaborator, Carol — mainly a matter of organizing and translating the sayings, which Tony had already collected.
I’ve always liked that book, and I refer to it often. So here are a few sample dichos:
- De noche todos los gatos son pardos.
All cats are gray in the night.
- El mal ajeno da consejo.
Other people’s problems give the best advice.
- No toda gallina que cacarea pone huevo.
Not every hen that cackles lays an egg.
- Date buena vida y sentiras más la caída.
The softer your life the harder your fall.
- Buena vida, arrugas trae.
A good life brings out wrinkles.
- El que se hace miel, se lo comen las abejas.
Who turns into honey will be eaten by bees.
- El hambre es lo bueno, no la comida.
Hunger is what is good, not the meal.
- El hombre debe ser feo, fuerte, y formal.
A man should be homely, hardy, and honorable.
- Cada loco con su tema.
Each fanatic with his fancy.
- La cochina más flaca es la que quiebra el chiquero.
The scrawniest pig is the one that breaks the pigpen.
- Cada oveja con su pareja.
Every lamb has her love
Like a lot of backlist titles, the book might be a little hard to find. If you can’t locate it at your locate independent bookstore, you can get it from Amazon (left link below), or from Powell’s (right link below), or elsewhere on the web (I get no royalties, but sales benefit Mercury House, a great literary nonprofit now under the direction of Jeremy Bigalke).