Code of conduct : Proverbs, idioms

Code of conduct : Proverbs, idioms

March 23, 2017

The age of a society in which its members not only firmly believed in but also assiduously adhered to the practice of pleasant conduct in both word and deed. The code of conduct, crystallising in the form of proverbs and idioms, apart from lyrical lines attributed to the wise such as Sarvajna of the 16th century and Gundappa (1887-1975) of Manku Thimmana Kagga fame recollected and reeled off by the grandpas and grandmas of typical Mysuru families, has now gone out of fashion. The elders at home in the bygone days were truly not only a repository of the sayings, uttered sportingly, but also played their watchdog role whenever the younger lots in the family went off track. Proverbs earned a niche for themselves with the society echoing the conviction that the vedas may not pass the test of veracity but the proverbs never.

Timeliness of citing proverbs and idioms, in Kannada and other tongues, taking care not to sound abusive or hurtful or repulsive used to be mastered by even the ajjis (grandmas) of Mysuru, who couldn’t lay claim to much schooling but were literate enough to hold their fort as it were in the company of grandpas wearing the literati badge on their sleeves.

A good turn has been done by some compilers having proverbs and idioms sourced to publications of different regions and languages and bringing out the compilation in handy book form. Now that the ajjas (grandpas) and ajjis (grandmas) are not part of most families in urban spaces, the gen next has lost both fun and words of wisdom that could be had effortlessly in the days of a distant past, which the elderly lot of Mysuru, whoever are still around would vouch for. The ajjis, with their keen eyes on boys and girls reaching adulthood, had no hesitation in citing proverbs using terms that the prudes would not approve of. One such goes like this: “Meese barovnu, desha kaana; molay barovlu, nela kaanlu.” Another one goes like this: “Kurudanige enu chinte, tharudina chinte.”

Every language of the land, including even those without an exclusive script, is marked by a cornucopia of proverbs and idioms that can never fail to appeal to refined tastes. In North India, idioms like “Daane daane pe likha hai, khaanevaalonka naam” is unmatched for mirroring hospitality of India’s homes. Let this column not miss one more from the North: “Bandar kya jaane, Adrak ka swaad”, meant to gently remind one about poor knowledge of food.


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